Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Using Incremental Rehearsal to Teach Letter Sounds to English Language Learners

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Using Incremental Rehearsal to Teach Letter Sounds to English Language Learners

Article excerpt


This study examined the effects of incremental rehearsal (IR) on letter sound expression for one kindergarten and one first grade English learner who were below district benchmark for letter sound fluency. A single-subject multiple-baseline design across sets of unknown letter sounds was used to evaluate the effect of IR on letter-sound expression and fluency. Although visual analysis of the data showed an increase in level and trend for the kindergarten participant, data were variable for the first grade participant who was referred for special education services during the intervention. Mean percentage of non-overlapping data (PND) was 94% for the kindergarten student and 98% for the first grade student. Although both learners made increases in letter sound expression and fluency, the intervention was 17 weeks in duration. Future research should examine both the effectiveness and efficiency of IR, as compared to other interventions, for increasing letter-sound knowledge of English learners.


The importance of acquiring early literacy skills to learn to read in the primary grades is well documented in the research literature (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Vellutino, Scanlon, & Zhang, 2007). Students who fail to learn these skills tend to continue to experience difficulties in academic skills throughout school (Stein, Johnson, & Gutlohn, 1999). Results from the National Reading Panel (NRP, 2000) specify the importance of systematic and explicit phonics instruction in kindergarten and first grade to improve students' word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehension. Letter-sound correspondence is a particularly important skill in the primary grades. Letter-sound fluency consistently predicts outcomes on high-stakes reading tests later in schooling (Pickart, Sheran, Betts, & Heistad, 2004), as well as other reading-related outcomes across first and second grades (Schatschneider, Fletcher, Francis, Carlson, & Foorman, 2004).

Systematic and explicit literacy interventions are particularly beneficial for students at risk for literacy difficulties early in the primary grades (NRP, 2000). For example, Vellutino, Scanlon, Small, and Fanuele (2006) found that kindergarten and first grade students who received targeted literacy interventions performed better on measures of emergent literacy when compared to similar peers who did not receive intervention support. In addition, Al Otaiba and Torgeson (2007) found that providing students with systematic and explicit literacy interventions in combination with a strong and explicit core reading program can reduce the percentage of poor readers by the end of first or second grade.

Although the importance of early literacy interventions in the primary grades is well researched (Stein et al., 1999), early literacy interventions for students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are underrepresented in the research literature (Klingner & Edwards, 2006). Particularly, far less attention has been given to identifying and implementing research-based interventions for this group of learners (McCray Sorrells, Webb-Johnson, & Townsend, 2004). Upon entering kindergarten, English learners face the combined tasks of learning to understand, speak, and read English. Students may also experience more significant challenges when learning to read because of issues with acculturation, linguistic isolation, and lack of prior literacy experiences in their native language or English (August & Shanahan, 2006). As a result of these confounding variables, researchers often omit English learners from their samples, adding to their underrepresentation in the research literature, and precluding a full understanding of the outcomes of literacy interventions (Gersten & Baker, 2000). If early literacy interventions are to be used with English learners, they must be validated with this population (Klingner & Edwards, 2006). …

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