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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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)(In-press)
JournalReading and Writing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2020


  • Literacy
  • Phonology
  • Prosody
  • Prosodic sensitivity
  • Rhythm

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    Critten, S., Holliman, A. J., Hughes, D. J., Wood, C., Cunnane, H., Pillinger, C., & Deacon, S. H. (2020). A longitudinal investigation of prosodic sensitivity and emergent literacy. Reading and Writing, (In-press), (In-press). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-020-10077-7