Modelling the relation between prosodic sensitivity and emergent literacy

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

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A converging literature has demonstrated that prosodic sensitivity (the rhythmic patterning of speech) is related to literacy development and theoretical models of this relation have begun to enter the literature (see Holliman et al., 2014). It has been theorized that the observed relation between prosodic sensitivity and word reading and spelling might be partially mediated by children’s vocabulary knowledge, phonological awareness, and morphological awareness; however, no study to date has tested this model with children in the earliest stage of reading development. In this study, four- to five-year-old Englishspeaking children (N = 101) who were identified as pre-readers completed a new test of prosodic sensitivity and were also assessed for their vocabulary knowledge, phonological awareness, and morphological awareness. One year later, participating children (N = 93) were assessed for their word reading and spelling. The new measure was found to be reliable, understood by children of this age, and sensitive to individual differences in prosodic sensitivity. It also correlated significantly with all other measures in this study. A path analysis indicated that the model proposed by Holliman et al. provided an adequate fit to our sample data; specifically, the results suggest that prosodic sensitivity in pre-literate children predicts word reading and spelling indirectly via its inter-relations with other emergent literacy skills. It is argued that prosodic sensitivity plays an important role in early literacy development.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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