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Comparative Study
, 92 (4), 345-65

The Effects of Spelling Consistency on Phonological Awareness: A Comparison of English and German

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Comparative Study

The Effects of Spelling Consistency on Phonological Awareness: A Comparison of English and German

Usha Goswami et al. J Exp Child Psychol.

Abstract

Within alphabetic languages, spelling-to-sound consistency can differ dramatically. For example, English and German are very similar in their phonological and orthographic structure but not in their consistency. In English the letter a is pronounced differently in the words bank, ball, and park, whereas in German the letter a always has the same pronunciation (e.g., Ball, Park, Bank). It is often argued that reading acquisition has a reciprocal effect on phonological awareness. As reading is acquired, therefore, spoken language representation may be affected differently for English and German children. Prior to literacy acquisition, however, phonological representation in English and German children should be similar due to the similar phonological structure of the two languages. We explored this hypothesis by comparing phonological awareness at the rime and phoneme levels in prereaders and beginning readers in English and German. Similar developmental effects were indeed observed in prereaders, but differential effects had emerged within the first year of reading instruction.

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