The Role of Phonological Awareness in Literacy Development: Recent Research Evidence

Phonological awareness refers to the ability of language learners to detect and manipulate sounds. This enables children to develop language literacy and speech development. Various researchers have carried out studies on phonology and explained different roles of phonological awareness in language development. Some of the notable research evidences provided include the following:

Ehri et al. (2001) suggests that phonological awareness is a significant factor in children’s learning process which enables them to learn how to read and spell. The study indicates that children with strong phonological awareness also have strong reading abilities while those with poor phonological awareness also have poor reading abilities. Spelling abilities also have a direct relationship with phonological awareness.

Dodd and Gillon (2001) also claim that phonological awareness plays a big role in the development of speech and literacy. Their study indicates that levels of literacy increases with increased phonological awareness and that low levels of phonological awareness may lead to speech impairment.

Lonigan, Burgess, & Anthony (2000) assert that phonological awareness is closely related to the overall language literacy development; reading and speech development. The size of a learner’s vocabulary as well as the semantics, syntax and morphology of expression and reception are highly dependent on the learner’s phonological awareness.

Anthony et al (2003) infer from their study that phonological awareness contributes to the development of language skills in a no-linear manner. The study correlates phonological skills with language skills and suggests that the two skills work together in either direction in order to facilitate successful language literacy and development, both in reading and spelling.

Rvachew et al (2003) suggest that phonological skills does not only apply to children with normal speech but also correlates with phonological and language development of children with speech disorders. They hold that delayed phonological skills leads to low poor phonological awareness and phonemic perception, hence causing speech disorders. However, the study indicates that even with speech disorders, children at the age of four years can still develop their language and speech through an enhanced phonological awareness.

Hazan and Barret (2000) contend that there is a positive relationship between phonological awareness and reading abilities. However, this relations changes with time. This study constituted an analysis of children with ages ranging between 6 and 12 years. It further indicates that children with the ages 6-12 can develop phonological skills easily and be able to differentiate between various sounds, hence developing their language easily.

In study of why education needs linguistics, Hudson (2003) claims that education generally needs a wide range of linguistic topics. In this analysis, further narrowing of ideas indicated that phonological and phonemic notations and morphology play a crucial part in language description. Language description on the other hand enhances effective language development in learners within an education system.

Finally, Fillmore and Snow (2000) identify oral language as one of the requirements which linguistic teachers need to learn in order to enhance language development in their language students. In this research, Fillmore and Snow (2000) say that phonemes (sounds) are necessary for teachers to develop languages in learners. They postulate that the perception, detection and use of such phonemes (sounds) help learners to develop their language. Therefore, phonological awareness (identification and manipulation of sounds) constitute a crucial part of language development.


References List

Anthony, J. L., Lonigan, C. J., Driscoll, K., Phillips, B. M., & Burgess, S. R. (2003). Phonological sensitivity: A quasi-parallel progression of word structure units and cognitive operations. Reading Research Quarterly, 38, 470–487.

Dodd, B., & Gillon, G. (2001). Exploring the relationship between phonological awareness, speech impairment and literacy. Advances in Speech Language Pathology, 3(2), 139-147

Ehri, L., Nunes, S., Willows, D., Schuster, B., Yaghoub-Zadeh, Z., & Shanahan, T. (2001). Phonemic awareness instruction helps children learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 36, 250–287.

Fillmore, L. W., and Snow, C. E. (2000). What Teachers Need to Know About Language. Clearinghouse on languages and linguistics, special report, 1-41.

Hazan, V. and Barret, S. (2000). The Development of Phonemic Categorization in Children aged 6-12. Journal of Phonetics, 28, 377–396.

Hudson, R. (2003). Why Education needs linguistics (and Vice Versa). Journal of linguistics, 40 (2004), 105-130.

Lonigan, C. J., Burgess, S. R., & Anthony, J. L. (2000). Development of emergent literacy and     early reading skills in preschool children: Evidence from a latent-variable longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 36, 596–613.

Rvachew, S., Ohberg, A., Grawberg, M. and Heyding, J. (2003). Phonological awareness and phonemic perception in 4-year-old children with delayed expressive phonology skills. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology, 12, 463–471.

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