Prosodic awareness and children’s multisyllabic word reading

Andrew Holliman, Ian Mundy, Lesly Wade-Woolley, Clare Wood, Chelsea Bird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Prosodic awareness (the rhythmic patterning of speech) accounts for unique variance in reading development. However, studies have thus far focused on early readers and utilised literacy measures which fail to distinguish between monosyllabic and multisyllabic words. The current study investigated the factors that are specifically associated with multisyllabic word reading in a sample of 50 children aged between 7 and 8 years. Prosodic awareness was the strongest predictor of multisyllabic word reading accuracy, after controlling for phoneme awareness, morphological awareness, vocabulary and short-term memory. Children also made surprisingly few phonemic errors while, in contrast, errors of stress assignment were commonplace. Prosodic awareness was also the strongest predictor of stress placement errors, although this finding was not significant. Prosodic skills may play an increasingly important role in literacy performance as children encounter more complex reading materials. Once phoneme-level skills are mastered, prosodic awareness is arguably the strongest predictor of single word reading.Publisher Statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Educational Psychology on 24/05/2017, available online:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1222-1241
Number of pages20
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number10
Early online date24 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Prosody
  • suprasegmental phonology
  • stress
  • multisyllabic
  • reading


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