Monday, June 21, 2010

Speech rhythm perception (Ga?) important for early reading

Holliman, A. J., Wood, C., & Sheehy, K. (2010). Does Speech Rhythm Sensitivity Predict Children's Reading Ability 1 Year Later? Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(2), 356-366.

There is a growing literature demonstrating that speech rhythm sensitivity is related to children's reading development, independent of phonological awareness. However, the precise nature of this relationship is less well understood, and further research is warranted to investigate whether speech rhythm sensitivity predicts the different components of reading over time. In this 1-year longitudinal study, 69 five- to 8-year-old English-speaking children completed a speech rhythm assessment at Time 1 along with other cognitive assessments and then completed a variety of reading assessments at Time 2 (1 year later). A series of hierarchical regression analyses revealed that after controlling for individual differences in age, vocabulary, and phonological awareness, speech rhythm sensitivity was able to predict unique variance in word reading and the phrasing component of the reading fluency measure 1 year later. The findings emphasize the contribution of speech rhythm sensitivity in children's reading development, and the authors argue that speech rhythm sensitivity should now be included in current models of children's reading development.

Speech rhythm was measured via the revised mispronounciations task:  As described in the article:

Speech rhythm sensitivity was measured using the revised mispronunciations task (Holliman et al., in press). Children heard a prerecorded word that was sounded through a speaker, where the stress of that word had been manipulated and reversed. For example, in the normal pronunciation of the word carrot [kær?t], the vowel in the first syllable is fully articulated and the vowel in the second syllable is reduced. However, in this task the stress was reversed so that the vowel in the first syllable became reduced and the vowel in the second syllable was fully articulated; carrot was pronounced as “c’rot” [k?'r?t]. To succeed in this task, children would need to be sensitive to the fact that the stress had been manipulated, and be
able to recover the correct stress, making a stress shift (Kitzen, 2001) to match the auditory input to a word stored in the lexicon, and then identify the corresponding target item from a choice of four pictures available.
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