Academic journal article The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation

Phonological Skills among Children with Reading Disabilities

Academic journal article The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation

Phonological Skills among Children with Reading Disabilities

Article excerpt


The main purpose of this study was to examine the phonological skills among children with reading disabilities of the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language, where each phoneme is represented by a grapheme following a certain phonemic principle. The sample consists of 15 children with reading disabilities and 15 children without reading disabilities, where "The diagnostic set for examination of the speech, language, reading and writing abilities among children" was used for examination of their phonological capacity. Phonological skills in children are very important for reading and writing acquisition. The results of the study showed that children with reading disabilities achieved poorer results in all tasks examining the phonological skills, compared to children without reading difficulties. The results of our study comply with results of studies conducted for other languages. The study highlights the importance of the mentioned skills for acquiring reading skills in the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language and the significance of deficient phonological abilities for the etiology of reading disabilities. Based on the conducted study, it can be concluded that phonological skills are very important for acquiring reading and writing abilities.

Key words: reading disabilities, phonological skills, phonemic synthesis and analysis

1. Introduction

Phonology deals with the system of sounds that exist within a specific language, whereas phonetics deals with the physical reality of the speech sounds, independently of their meaning and function (1). Phonological skills involve the manipulation of phonological constituents of the spoken words in tasks such as blending, segmenting and rhyming. Different researchers reported that children who learn to read well can rhyme at the age of four and they can blend and segment orally presented words and sounds by the end of first grade (2). A number of longitudinal studies found that children who show poor phonological awareness before they have learned to read are at risk of developing a reading disability (3). Reading accuracy is well predicted by early phonological and language skills (4). The relationship between phonemic awareness and learning to read is a two-way process: phonemic awareness is a precondition for learning to read and learning to read facilitates further progress of phonemic awareness (5). Results of different studies showed that phonemic awareness does not develop itself spontaneously, but it partly depends on the literacy (6). When the child learns to read, he/she must be able to detect phonemes that make up spoken words in order to understand that these separate sound units can be represented by letters or group of letters, that is, graphemes in the written language. If the child has not mastered phoneme segmenting, it will be very difficult for him/her to achieve reading and writing fluency (7). In the past 15 years, it has been considered that déficient phonological processing represents the main cause of reading and writing difficulties (8). Most cases of reading disabilities arise because of difficulties in the process of word recognition. These difficulties occur due to deficiencies in the processes of phonological coding, where letter patterns are transformed into phonological codes (9).

Dyslexia involves deficiency within the language system, especially at the level of a phonological module. Children with dyslexia need more time to retrieve appropriate phonemes and sometimes while speaking these children retrieve a phoneme that sounds similar to the one they intended to pronounce. The children with dyslexia lack phonemic awareness and they experience difficulty noticing basic sounds - phonemes that make up all spoken and written words (10).

The majority of studies about phonological skills among children with dyslexia have been conducted in English speaking countries. The Bosnian language is characterized with a phonemic alphabet, where each letter conesponds to one sound. …

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