Skip to main content Accessibility help

Phonological analysis as a function of age and exposure to reading instruction

  • Judith A. Bowey (a1) and J. Francis (a1)


This study was designed to test the prediction that, whereas sensitivity to subsyllabic phonological units might emerge prior to alphabetic reading instruction, phonemic analysis skills develop as a consequence of reading instruction. A series of phonological oddity tasks was devised, assessing children's sensitivity to subsyllabic onset and rime units, and to phonemes. These tasks were administered to three groups of children. The first group comprised the oldest children of a sample of kindergarten children. The second and third groups comprised the youngest and oldest children from a first-grade sample. The kindergarten group was equivalent to the younger first-grade group in terms of general verbal maturity, but had not been exposed to reading instruction. The younger first-grade sample was verbally less mature than the older first-grade sample, but had equivalent exposure to reading instruction. On all tasks, both first-grade groups performed at equivalent levels, and both groups did better than the kindergarten group. In all groups, onset and rime unity oddity tasks were of equal difficulty, but phoneme oddity tasks were more difficult than rime oddity tasks. Although some of the kindergarten children could reliably focus on onset and rime units, none performed above chance on the phoneme oddity tasks. Further analyses indicated that rime/onset oddity performance explained variation in very early reading achievement more reliably than phoneme oddity performance.


Corresponding author

J. A. Bowey, Department of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Queensland 4072, Australia


Hide All
Bowey, J. A. (1990). On Rhyme, language, and children's reading. Applied Psycholinguistics, 11, 439448.
Bowey, J. A., & Patel, R. K. (1988). Metalinguistic ability and early reading achievement. Applied Psycholinguistics, 9, 367383.
Bradley, L. (1980). Assessing reading difficulties: A diagnostic and remedial approach. London: Macmillan.
Bradley, L., & Bryant, P. E. (1983). Categorizing sounds and learning to read-A causal connection. Nature, 301, 419421.
Bruce, D. (1964). The analysis of word sounds by young children. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 34, 158170.
Bryant, P. E., Bradley, L., MacLean, M. & Crossland, J. (1989). Nursery rhymes, phonological skills and reading. Journal of Child Language, 16, 407428.
Bryant, P. E., & Goswami, U. (1987). Phonological awareness and learning to read. In Beech, J. R. & Colley, A. M. (Ed.), Cognitive approaches to reading (pp. 213243). New York: Wiley.
Bryant, P. E., MacLean, M., & Bradley, L. L. (1990). Comments “On Rhyme, language, and children's reading.” Applied Psycholinguistics, 11, 449450.
Bryne, B. (1981). Reading disability, linguistic access and short-term memory: Comments prompted by Jorm's review of developmental dyslexia. Australian Journal of Psychology, 33, 8396.
Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1989). Phonemic awareness and letter knowledge in the child's acquisition of the alphabetic principle. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 313321.
Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (in press). Acquiring the alphabetic principle: A case for teaching the recognition of phoneme identity. Journal of Educational Psychology.
Chomsky, N., & Halle, M. (1969). The sound pattern of English. New York: Harper & Row.
Clay, M. M. (1979). The early detection of reading difficulties. Melbourne: Heinemann.
Content, A., Kolinsky, R., Morais, J., & Bertelson, P. (1986). Phonetic segmentation in prereaders: Effect of corrective information. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 42, 4972.
Cutler, A., Butterfield, S., & Williams, J. N. (1987). The perceptual integrity of syllabic onsets. Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 406418.
Dunn, L. M., & Dunn, L. M. (1981). Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test–Revised (3rd ed.). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.
Dunn, L. M., & Markwardt, F. C. (1970). Peabody Individual Achievement Test. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.
Ehri, L. C., & Wilce, L. S. (1980). The influence of orthography on readers’ conceptualization of the phonemic structure of words. Applied Psycholinguistics, 1, 371385.
Ehri, L. C., & Wilce, L. S. (1985). Movement into reading: Is the first stage of printed word learning visual or phonetic? Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 163179.
Fox, B., & Routh, D. K. (1984). Phonemic analysis and synthesis as word attack skills: Revisited. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 10591064.
Fudge, E. C. (1969). Syllables. Journal of Linguistics, 5, 253286.
Gibson, E. J., & Levin, H. (1975). The psychology of reading. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Goodall, M. (1984). Can four year olds “read” words in the environment? The Reading Teacher, 37, 478482.
Goswami, U. (1986). Children's use of analogy in learning to read: A developmental study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 42, 7383.
Helfgott, J. A. (1976). Phonemic segmentation and blending skills of kindergarten children: Implications for beginning reading acquisition. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 1, 157169.
Jackson, N. E., Donaldson, G. W., Cleland, L. N. (1988). The structure of precocious reading ability. Developmental Psychology, 80, 234243.
Juel, C.Griffith, P. L., & Gough, P. B. (1986). Acquisition of literacy: A longitudinal study of children in first and second grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 243255.
Kirtley, C., Bryant, P. E., MacLean, M. J., & Bradley, L. L. (1989). Rhyme, rime and the onset of reading. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 48, 224245.
Liberman, I. Y., Shankweiler, D., Fischer, F. W., & Carter, B. (1974). Explicit syllable and phoneme segmentation in the young child. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 18, 201212.
Lundberg, I., Olofsson, A., & Wall, S. (1980). Reading and spelling skills in the first school years predicted from performance from phonemic awareness skills in kindergarten. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 21, 159173.
MacKay, D. G. (1972). The structure of words and syllables: Evidence from errors in speech. Cognitive Psychology, 3, 210227.
Mann, V. A. (1984). Longitudinal prediction and prevention of early reading difficulty. Annals of Dyslexia, 34, 117136.
Mann, V. A. (1986). Phonological awareness: The role of reading experience. Cognition, 10, 6592.
Mann, V. A., & Liberman, I. Y. (1984). Phonological awareness and verbal short-term memory. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 17, 592599.
Mann, V. A., Tobin, P., & Wilson, R. (1987). Measuring phonological awareness through the invented spelling of kindergarten children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 33, 365391.
Masonheimer, P. E., Drum, P. A., & Ehri, L. C. (1984). Does environmental print identification lead children into word reading? Journal of Reading Behavior, 16, 257271.
Morais, J., Bertelson, P., Cary, L., & Alegria, J. (1986). Literacy training and speech segmentation. Cognition, 24, 4564.
Morais, J., Cary, L., Alegria, J., & Bertelson, P. (1979). Does awareness of speech as a series of phones arise spontaneously? Cognition, 7, 323331.
Perfetti, C. A., Beck, I., Bell, L. C., & Hughes, C. (1987). Phonemic knowledge and learning to read are reciprocal: A longitudinal study of first-grade children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 35, 283319.
Read, C.Zhang, Y.-N., Nie, H.-Y., & Ding, B.-Q. (1986). The ability to manipulate speech sounds depends on knowing alphabetic writing. Cognition, 24, 3144.
Rosner, J., & Simon, D. P. (1971). The auditory analysis test: An initial report. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 4, 384392.
Schonell, F., & Goodacre, E. (1971). The psychology and teaching of reading (5th ed.). London: Oliver & Boyd.
Share, D. L., Jorm, A. F., Maclean, R., & Matthews, R. (1984). Sources of individual differences in reading achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 13091324.
Stanovich, K. E., Cunningham, A. E., & Cramer, B. B. (1984). Assessing phonological awareness in kindergarten children: Issues of task comparability. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 38, 175190.
Stuart, M., & Coltheart, M. (1988). Does reading develop in a sequence of stages? Cognition, 30, 139181.
Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (1989). Using multivariate statistics (2nd ed.). New York: Harper & Row.
Treiman, R. (1983). The structure of spoken syllables: Evidence from novel word games. Cognition, 15, 4974.
Treiman, R. (1985). Onsets and rimes as units of spoken syllables: Evidence from children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 39, 161181.
Treiman, R., & Danis, C. (1988). Short-term memory errors for spoken syllables are affected by the linguistic structure of the syllables. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 14, 145152.
Tunmer, W. E., Herriman, M. L., & Nesdale, A. R. (1988). Metalinguistic abilities and beginning reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 134158.
Tunmer, W. E., & Nesdale, A. R. (1982). The effects of digraphs and pseudowords on phonemic segmentation in young children. Applied Psycholinguistics, 3, 299311.
Vellutino, F. R., & Scanlon, D. M. (1987). Phonological coding, phonological awareness, and reading ability: Evidence from a longitudinal and experimental study. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 33, 321363.
Williams, J. P. (1980). Teaching decoding with an emphasis on phoneme analysis and phoneme blending. Journal of Educational Psychology, 72, 115.
Woodcock, R. W. (1973). Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.
Yopp, H. K. (1988). The validity and reliability of phonemic awareness tests. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 159177.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Phonological analysis as a function of age and exposure to reading instruction

  • Judith A. Bowey (a1) and J. Francis (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.