The Causal Role of Phoneme Awareness and Letter-Sound Knowledge in Learning to Read: Combining Intervention Studies With Mediation Analyses

Charles Hulme, Claudine Bowyer-Crane, Julia M. Carroll, Fiona J. Duff, Margaret J. Snowling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

124 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is good evidence that phoneme awareness and letter-sound knowledge are reliable longitudinal predictors of learning to read, though whether they have a causal effect remains uncertain. In this article, we present the results of a mediation analysis using data from a previous large-scale intervention study. We found that a phonology and reading intervention that taught letter-sound knowledge and phoneme awareness produced significant improvements in these two skills and in later word-level reading and spelling skills. Improvements in letter-sound knowledge and phoneme awareness at the end of the intervention fully mediated the improvements seen in children's word-level literacy skills 5 months after the intervention finished. Our findings support the conclusion that letter-sound knowledge and phoneme awareness are two causal influences on the development of children's early literacy skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-577
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • academic achievement
  • cognitive development
  • letter-sound knowledge
  • phoneme awareness
  • reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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