Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Phonological Awareness: One Key to the Reading Proficiency of Deaf Children

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Phonological Awareness: One Key to the Reading Proficiency of Deaf Children

Article excerpt

A case is made for the importance of children's development of phonological awareness-whether they are hearing or deaf-if they are to reach their potential as readers. Relevant terms are defined (i.e., phonological awareness, phonological processes, and phonics) to assist the reader with the research review, which covers (a) the typical stages in the acquisition of phonological awareness and (b) phonological awareness and deafness. Suggestions for phonological awareness assessment are offered, along with the recommendation that the use of recently developed formal and informal measures of phonological awareness might facilitate the setting of goals and objectives when deaf educators or speechlanguage pathologists are evaluating the skills of deaf students and planning instruction for these students. Such tools yield information about skills that have been shown to correlate with literacy attainment and that are not commonly addressed by deaf educators or speech-language pathologists serving deaf students. Finally, research concerning the facilitation of phonological awareness and its application is explained.

If they are to participate in contemporary society, it is critical that children become proficient readers, whether they are deaf or hearing, monolingual or bilingual, developing normally or experiencing cognitive or learning disabilities. Currently, most deaf students are educated in public schools (Moores, 1999) and are expected to comprehend and be critical readers of a variety of text types (textbooks, material from the Internet, resource books, newsmagazines, etc.) and to demonstrate the same proficiency on achievement tests shown by their hearing classmates. Such reading experiences prepare deaf students to pursue higher education and a multitude of careers, just as is true of their hearing peers. Unfortunately, most deaf students historically plateau at the third- or fourth-grade level in reading and writing achievement (see reviews by Moores, 1996; Paul, 1998).

Concern about the reading achievement of students in the United States and the need for all children to get off to a good start as readers is on the national educational agenda, and rightly so. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as the "nation's report card," evaluates the reading ability of thousands of 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-grade students every few years, and sets high standards for reading performance. The present time is widely understood as an era in which the ability to read and comprehend information is critical in all walks of life, so it is particularly disconcerting that a report of the 1998 NAEP findings indicated that only 31% of 4th graders, 33% of 8th graders, and 40% of 12th graders were reading at the proficient level or higher. Proficient performance is defined as "solid academic performance for each grade assessed. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including subject-matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real-world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to the subject matter" (NAEP, 2001).

Similar NAEP findings in the past decade led to the commission of national studies related to reading. In 1990 Marilyn Adams, hired to investigate "what we know about basis processes and instructional priorities in words and letter identification and early reading" (Adams, 1990, p. vi), concluded that the acquisition of phonological awareness and English-language proficiency is essential if children are to be able to efficiently decipher words and to understand text without continual assistance. Two additional national studies were commissioned, one focusing on preventing reading difficulties (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998) and the other on researchbased reading instruction (National Reading Panel, 2000). A key finding of all three of these extensive national studies is that phonological awareness, particularly phonemic or sound-level awareness, plays an important role in later reading achievement. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.