Teaching orthographic mapping to novice beginners in Brazilian Portuguese: effects of phonemes, syllables and articulatory gestures

Teaching orthographic mapping to novice beginners in Brazilian Portuguese: effects of phonemes, syllables and articulatory gestures

First Author: Renan de Almeida Sargiani -- Harvard University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Linnea Carlson Ehri; Maria Regina Maluf
Keywords: Grapheme-phoneme correspondences, Reading development, Writing development, Phoneme awareness, Early childhood age 3-8
Abstract / Summary: 

The purpose of this study was to explore 1) whether children benefit more from instruction in the orthographic mapping of phonemes or syllables at the outset of learning to read in Brazilian Portuguese and 2) whether including articulatory gestures in the training of orthographic mapping of phonemes improves phonemic segmentation more than training without articulation. This was an experimental study with a pretest/posttests design and random assignment of participants to treatment and control groups. 90 Brazilian Portuguese speakers, mean age 4 years, 5 months, were drawn from one public kindergarten in São Paulo, Brazil. Children received instructions in small groups in one of 4 conditions: 1) orthographic mapping of phonemes with articulation (OM-PA), 2) orthographic mapping of phonemes without articulation (OM-P), 3) orthographic mapping of syllables without articulation (OM-S), or 4) drawing pictures (Control). Then children were assessed in a word-learning task followed by reading, spelling, phonemic and syllabic segmentation tasks. Results showed that children in the OM-PA and the OM-P groups outperformed children in the OM-S and control groups in reading and spelling tasks. Instruction with articulatory gestures benefited children more than instruction without this component. The OM-PA group outperformed the others in phonemic segmentation, reading and spelling. In a delayed posttest given 1.5 years later, 48 children, 12 from each experimental condition, were assessed again in several literacy skills. Children who received orthographic mapping of phonemes performed better in phonemic segmentation, reading and spelling tasks, than children who received orthographic mapping of syllables and children in the control group. Overall results show that teaching orthographic mapping of phonemes to novice beginning readers is more effective than teaching orthographic mapping of syllables, despite the fact that syllables are more salient units in Brazilian Portuguese.