Exploring the dual-foundation model: Evidence from four studies of beginning readers

Exploring the dual-foundation model: Evidence from four studies of beginning readers

First Author: Anna Cunningham -- Coventry University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Anne Castles; Gabriela Malkova ; Markéta Caravolas
Keywords: Letter knowledge, Phoneme awareness, Word reading, Cross-linguistic
Abstract / Summary: 

The dual foundation model presents that theory that letter-sound knowledge (LK) and phoneme awareness (PA) uniquely and interactively predict early reading skills (Byrne, 1998). We explore whether these relationships are moderated by age and the phonological structure of the input language.

This paper brings together data from four studies conducted in the UK, Czech Republic and Australia, representing 980 children. Analyses will compare groups of English-speaking 4-5 and 7-8 year olds (both in the first year of school due to the older group starting school later), and Czech and English-speaking 4-5 year olds (in preschool and the first year of school respectively). The paper uses, for the first time, item-level data (whether a child knows the letter-sound corresponding to the phoneme they are asked to identify/manipulate) to test the pathways depicted in the dual foundation model (e.g. the direct link between phoneme awareness and reading is measured via the proportion of PA+LK-). In view of between-study methodological differences, each study is analysed separately, and standardized beta weights compared to see how different factors may moderate the relationship between early letter knowledge, phoneme awareness, and later word reading.

Preliminary analyses suggest that age and language act as moderators of the dual-foundation model with a) older beginning readers showing a stronger direct link from PA to reading than younger children, and b) Czech children showing a stronger direct route from PA to reading than English-speaking children. We hypothesise this is due to better phonological awareness at school entry in older children, and early development of more detailed phonological representations in Czech speakers (due to a complex syllable-onset structure).

This paper provides new insights about the nature of the dual-foundation model in different populations.