The development of vocabulary, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge in low-SES Filipino children in Cebu

The development of vocabulary, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge in low-SES Filipino children in Cebu

First Author: Katrina May Dulay -- Chinese University of Hong Kong
Additional authors/chairs: 
Catherine McBride
Keywords: Emergent literacy, SES, Vocabulary, Phonological awareness, Letter knowledge
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: We examined the pre-literacy profile of young, low-SES Filipino children. Whereas age-related differences were expected, effects related to SES and access to daycare/preschool services were likewise hypothesized to exert influences on children’s pre-literacy skills.

Method: 560 children (3, 4, and 5 year olds) in low-income communities in Cebu City, Philippines were administered measures of receptive vocabulary, expressive vocabulary, syllable matching, syllable deletion, and letter name knowledge. Demographic information was collected using parent surveys. Differences were tested across age groups in the five pre-literacy measures using MANCOVA, with parents’ education, parents’ income, and prior exposure to preschool/daycare entered as covariates.

Results: Descriptive statistics revealed that 16% of children in the sample knew at least one letter, and 10% and 4% scored above chance in the syllable matching and syllable deletion tasks. MANCOVA results revealed a significant effect of age on all outcome measures. Parents’ education was significantly related to most outcome measures, and parents’ income influenced letter name knowledge. Prior preschool/daycare exposure significantly influenced letter name knowledge and vocabulary. Repeated contrasts indicated significant differences across age groups on most outcome measures. Syllable deletion scores were not significantly different between 3 and 4 year olds, but were significantly different between 4 and 5 year olds.

Conclusion: Phonological awareness and letter name knowledge were generally lower in this sample compared to previous literature in other countries. This highlights the effects of socioeconomic status on children’s pre-literacy skills and emphasizes the importance of access to high-quality pre-literacy input in such communities.