Preschool language abilities and emergent literacy in deaf and hearing children

Preschool language abilities and emergent literacy in deaf and hearing children

First Author: Fiona Kyle -- University College London
Additional authors/chairs: 
Kathryn Mason; Indie Beedie; Ros Herman
Keywords: Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Emergent literacy, Phonological awareness, Vocabulary, Language
Abstract / Summary: 

Previous research has shown that vocabulary and phonological skills are predictors of reading outcomes in school-age deaf children. Less is known about early language abilities and emergent literacy in preschool deaf children. This poster will present data from the first year of a longitudinal study investigating the development of emergent literacy, language and phonological skills in preschool deaf using spoken language.

49 severely and profoundly deaf pre-schoolers (3 and 4 year olds) and a comparison sample of 51 hearing pre-schoolers participated in the study. Children were assessed on a broad range of language skills including morphosyntax (sentence repetition, word structure and sentence structure), phonological skills (nonword repetition and speechreading), and emergent literacy (vocabulary knowledge, phonological awareness, letter-sound knowledge, and print awareness).

Deaf children showed an uneven pattern of performance across the different spoken language tasks. As a group, they had age-appropriate expressive vocabulary and letter-sound knowledge but their morphosyntax and phonological skills were delayed. Deaf and hearing children exhibited similar patterns of associations between skills. Early phonological and morphosyntax skills were related to three components of emergent literacy: expressive vocabulary, letter-sound knowledge, and print awareness. In addition, early phonological skills were associated with phonological awareness.

Although many preschool deaf children had age-appropriate vocabulary and letter-sound knowledge, their significantly weaker phonological and broader language skills are likely to put them at higher risk of later reading difficulties.