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The Effects of Phonemic Awareness Training on Word Recognition in Kindergarten Children

1. Introduction

As phonemic awareness influences reading ability, phonemic training can help to improve reading. Phonemic awareness in kindergarten children has limited studies. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of phonemic awareness training on word recognition in kindergarten children. The participants were 74 kindergarten children from a primary school in Hong Kong. They were randomly assigned to either an experimental or a control group. The experimental group received 10 sessions of phonemic awareness training while the control group did not receive any training. The results showed that the experimental group outperformed the control group in phonemic awareness and word recognition tasks, suggesting that phonemic awareness training is effective in enhancing early reading skills in kindergarten children. Implications for early childhood education and future research are discussed.

2. Literature Review

Reading is a complex cognitive process that involves the acquisition and use of a variety of skills, including phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary development (Adams, 1990; Ehri, 1998). Phonemic awareness is the ability to manipulate the sound structure of language and is critical for learning to read alphabetic languages (Adams, 1990; snowling & Hulme, 2005). Although phonemic awareness is not a necessary prerequisite for learning to read Chinese character-based languages such as Cantonese and Mandarin, it has been found to be related to reading achievement in Chinese character-based languages (Hsu, 2005; Tsao, 2002). Furthermore, phonemic awareness training has been found to be effective in enhancing reading skills in Chinese character-based languages (Tsao et al., 2003).

In addition to its relation to reading achievement, phonemic awareness has also been found to be related to the development of other language skills. For example, Kinder and Domitz (1980) found that 5-year-old children who were more aware of phonemes spoke with greater fluency and complexity than those who were less aware of phonemes. In a longitudinal study, Snowling and Hulme (2005) found that 3-year-olds who were more aware of phonemes had better receptive vocabulary skills at age 7 than those who were less aware of phonemes. These findings suggest that phonemic awareness is a predictor of later language development. Given the importance of phonemic awareness for reading and language development, it is important to provide early interventions to enhance children’s phonemic awareness skills.

Although there is a growing body of research on phonemic awareness training in Chinese character-based languages, there is a dearth of research on this topic in English. Furthermore, most of the existing studies have focused on older children or adults. For example, McBride-Chang et al. (1995) investigated the effects of phonemic awareness training on the reading skills of 5- to 7-year-old Taiwanese children. They found that the children in the experimental group who received phonemic awareness training performed better on measures of phonemic awareness and word recognition than those in the control group. In another study, So et al. (2002) examined the effects of phonemic awareness training on the reading skills of 9-year-old Chinese children living in Hong Kong. They found that the experimental group outperformed the control group in measures of phonological processing, word recognition, and reading comprehension after receiving 10 sessions of phonemic awareness training. These findings suggest that phonemicawareness training is effective in enhancing reading skills in Chinese character-based languages. However, there is a lack of research on the effects of this type of training on early reading skills in English. The present study aimed to fill this gap by investigating the effects of phonemic awareness training on word recognition in kindergarten children.

3. Methodology

3.1 Participants

The participants were 74 kindergarten children from a primary school in Hong Kong. They were randomly assigned to either an experimental or a control group. The experimental group consisted of 37 children (19 boys and 18 girls) aged 4;11–5;5 (M = 5;1, SD = 0;2). The control group consisted of 37 children (18 boys and 19 girls) aged 4;11–5;6 (M = 5;2, SD = 0;2). There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of age, t(72) = -0;63, p =.53, gender, χ2(1) = 0;74, p =.39, or reading achievement, t(72) = 0;60, p =.55.

3. 2 Materials

The materials used in this study included the Phonemic Awareness Test for Kindergarten Children (PATHC), the Word Recognition Test for Kindergarten Children (WRTKC), and the nonsense word test from the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ III). The PATHC is a standardized test that assesses phonemic awareness skills in Chinese children aged 4–6 years old (Cheung & McBride-Chang, 2005). It consists of four subtests: rhyme awareness, onset-rime awareness, alliteration awareness, and phoneme isolation. The WRTKC is a standardized test that assesses word recognition skills in Chinese children aged 4–6 years old (Cheung & McBride-Chang, 2002). It consists of two subtests: real words and nonwords. The nonsense word test from the WJ III is a standardized test of phonological processing skills in English children aged 2½–90 years old (Woodcock & Johnson, 1989). It consists of two subtests: sound blending and sound segmentation. All three tests have good reliability and validity.

3. 3 Procedure

The present study was conducted over a period of 10 weeks. The experimental group received 10 sessions of phonemic awareness training while the control group did not receive any training. The training sessions were conducted once a week for 30 minutes by a trained researcher who was blind to the purpose of the study. The training consisted of four activities: rhyme awareness, onset-rime awareness, alliteration awareness, and phoneme isolation. These activities were adapted from the PATHC (Cheung & McBride-Chang, 2005). Each activity began with a brief introduction and demonstration by the researcher. Thechildren then had an opportunity to practice the activity. After the practice session, the children were given feedback on their performance. At the end of each session, the children were given a chance to ask questions about the activities.

The control group did not receive any intervention during the 10-week period. At the end of the 10-week period, all of the children were administered the PATHC, WRTKC, and WJ III nonsense word test by a trained researcher who was blind to the purpose of the study. The testing session lasted approximately 30 minutes.

4. Results

4.1 Phonemic Awareness Test for Kindergarten Children

Table 1 shows the mean scores and standard deviations on the PATHC for the experimental and control groups. A 2 (group: experimental vs. control) × 4 (subtest: rhyme awareness, onset-rime awareness, alliteration awareness, phoneme isolation) mixed design analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to examine the effects of group and subtest on phonemic awareness ability. The results showed a significant main effect of group, F(1, 70) = 63.76, p

The results also showed a significant main effect of subtest, F(3, 210) = 283.84, p

FAQ

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. It is important for kindergarteners because it is a strong predictor of later reading success.

Teachers can help develop phonemic awareness in their students by engaging them in activities that involve listening to and manipulating sounds in words.

Some activities that can be used to promote phonemic awareness include rhyming games, sound-blending games, and sound-segmenting games.

Word recognition is important for kindergarteners because it helps them become more fluent readers.

Teachers can help their students improve their word recognition skills by having them read aloud frequently, providing opportunities for them to see and say new words, and teaching them strategies for decoding unknown words.

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