A longitudinal investigation of prosodic sensitivity and emergent literacy

Sarah Critten, Andrew J Holliman, David J Hughes, Clare Wood, Helen Cunnane, Claire Pillinger, S. Helene Deacon

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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Prosodic sensitivity—the rhythmic patterning of speech—is theorized to influence reading and spelling via vocabulary knowledge, phonological, and morphological awareness. Previously this conceptual model has been evidenced with children who can already read, however as orthographic knowledge can be used to complete phonological awareness tasks it cannot be said definitively that it is prosodic sensitivity influencing reading and spelling and not the reverse. Therefore, the present study sought to test the model in a longitudinal study conducted at the outset of reading development. A sample of 4- to 5-year-old English-speaking children (N = 101) were assessed for their prosodic sensitivity, vocabulary knowledge, phonological and morphological awareness, and 1 year later (N = 93) for their word reading and spelling. A path analysis revealed that the conceptual model provides an adequate fit to our sample data: prosodic sensitivity in pre-reading children predicts reading and spelling indirectly through other emergent literacy skills. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to models of literacy development and literacy instruction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-389
Number of pages19
JournalReading and Writing
Early online date21 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11145-020-10077-7

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


This research was funded by a Nuffield Foundation Grant for Research and Innovation, awarded to Andrew J. Holliman, but the views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation. More information is available at www.nuffieldfoundation.org.


  • Literacy
  • Phonology
  • Prosody
  • Prosodic sensitivity
  • Rhythm


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