Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Prediction of Basic Reading Skills among Young Children with Diverse Linguistic Backgrounds

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Prediction of Basic Reading Skills among Young Children with Diverse Linguistic Backgrounds

Article excerpt


This study was conducted to assess the relative predictive validity of phonological processing, listening comprehension, general cognitive ability, and visual-motor coordination against early reading skills within a sample of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Children (N = 65) were tested in Kindergarten with measures from each of the aforementioned areas, and in Grade 1 with measures of letter and word recognition. Among all predictor variables, phonological processing was the only significant predictor of Grade 1 reading. Language(s) spoken in the home added to the prediction of letter recognition. Results suggest that phonological processing may contribute to the acquisition of basic reading skills for children with varied language experiences in the same way as it does for monolingual children.


La presente etude visait a evaluer la validite predictive du traitement phonologique, de la comprehension auditive, de la capacite cognitive generale et de la coordination visuelle et motrice par rapport aux aptitudes initiales a la lecture, dans un echantillon d'enfants issus de divers contextes linguistiques. Les enfants (N = 65) ont ete testes a la maternelle au moyen de mesures portant sur chacun des aspects ci-dessus, et en premiere annee avec des mesures de la reconnaissance des lettres et des mots. Parmi toutes les variables predictives, le traitement phonologique etait le seul important predicteur de la lecture en premiere annee. La(les) langue(s) parlee(s) a la maison contribuai(en)t a la prediction de la reconnaissance des lettres. Les resultats suggerent que le traitement phonologique pourrait contribuer a l'acquisition d'aptitudes de base a la lecture chez les enfants de milieux multilingues, de la meme facon que chez les enfants unilingues.

Increased understanding of the cognitive bases of reading-related problems among children has resulted in three major changes in the focus of this research area. One includes a greater emphasis on language-based processes, which is in part due to findings that deficits in visual processes and visual-motor integration are not the main cause of reading difficulties (e.g., Stanovich, 1986). Accordingly, many investigators have begun to study other, more language-based cognitive processes that may be involved in reading such as phonological processing and listening comprehension (e.g., Wagner & Torgesen, 1987). Another change in focus concerns the dissatisfaction with the use of discrepancies between general cognitive ability, as measured by IQ tests, and reading achievement scores to operationally define a "reading disability" (e.g., Shaywitz, Fletcher, Holahan, & Shaywitz, 1992; Siegel, 1988). Problems with this operational definition have led to the third change in the field, the search for an alternative assessment model (e.g., Kline, Snyder, & Castellanos, 1996; Spring & French, 1990). A brief review of the results of relevant research follows.

Many researchers have conducted longitudinal studies to examine various processes in young children that may be linked to later reading achievement (e.g., Hurford, Schauf, Bunce, Blaich, & Moore, 1994). Considerable evidence indicates that phonological processing plays an important role in reading development and has validity in predicting reading success (e.g., Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1994; Wagner et al., 1997). Indeed, performance on measures of phonological skills assessed as early as Kindergarten can predict with reasonable accuracy later reading performance (Hurford et al., 1994; Mann, 1993). In addition, phonological-based measures are predictive of reading skills independent of general cognitive ability, and poor readers seem to have difficulties with phonological processing regardless of their IQ levels (e.g., Stanovich & Siegel, 1994).

Other language-based abilities such as listening comprehension may also be important for reading development. …

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