Understanding prosodic awareness in school-age children’s reading.

Understanding prosodic awareness in school-age children’s reading.

First Author: Jessica S. Chan -- Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of South Carolina
Additional authors/chairs: 
Lesly Wade-Woolley; John R. Kirby
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Prosodic awareness refers to the speech rhythm in oral language including linguistic stress, tone, rhythm, and intonation. The awareness and application of lexical stress represents phonological processing at the suprasegmental level, which is particularly important in multisyllabic word reading (MAjor; maJORity) and indicating focus or emphasis in connected-text. In the current study, we investigate prosodic awareness as a predictor of children’s word reading and reading comprehension using an aural stress assignment task.

Method: Our study included 110 readers (Mage = 10.41 years) in Grades 4 and 5 (49 Males; 61 Females). Measures of vocabulary, nonverbal ability, RAN, morphological awareness, segmental PA, and suprasegmental PA were administered as predictors of word reading and reading comprehension. A series of hierarchical multiple regression analyses was conducted.

Results: Prosodic awareness was a significant correlate of word reading (r = .36, p < .01) and reading comprehension (r = .25, p < .01). Segmental PA and prosodic awareness correlated at r = .22, p < .05. Prosodic awareness uniquely predicted word reading (4%) beyond segmental PA (9%) and known cognitive predictors of reading for a total of 72% of word reading explained. After accounting for word reading (7%), morphological awareness emerged as a significant predictor (3%) of reading comprehension to explain 63% of the model.

Conclusion: Our findings support previous studies illustrating suprasegmental PA as a separate predictor of children’s word reading, beyond segmental PA among older readers. We provide further evidence for the role of suprasegmental phonology in models of word reading.