Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9: 23–40, 1997.
1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
A reading-level match study of phonemic processes underlying
reading disabilities in a transparent orthography
JUAN E. JIM
Departamento de Psicolog
ıa Evolutiva y de la Educaci
on, Universidad de La Laguna, Islas
Abstract. The current study examined the relationship in Spanish (i.e., a transparent ortho-
graphy) between different levels of phonological awareness and reading disabilities. In
addition, the strategies used by the children when they resolved phoneme segmentation and
reversal tasks were analyzed. A sample of 133 subjects were selected and organized in three
different groups: (1) A group of 45 reading-disabled children, (2) A comparison group of 44
normal readers matched in age with the reading disabled, and (3) A reading level match group
of 44 younger normal readers at the same reading level as the reading disabled. Three phonolog-
ical awareness tasks were used to measure levels of intrasyllabic and phonemic awareness. The
reading disabled group was equivalent to the younger reading level-matched control group in
the odd-word-out task. However, there were differences in the phonemic tasks (e.g., phoneme
segmentation and reversal) because the reading disabled group performed more poorly than
the younger children. Overall, the children matched in age with the reading disabled group
were superior in all phonological awareness tasks. There were differences between the groups
when the strategies used by the children were analyzed.
Key words: Phonological awareness, Reading level design, Reading disabilities, Transparent
The children who learn to read in alphabetic systems need to develop
metalinguistic abilities because alphabetic written languages represent the
phonological units of speech and phonological segments are abstract units.
The children must ﬁrst learn how to manipulate phonological codes by
memory and discover their relationship with graphemes (Alegria 1985). At
the ﬁrst stages of learning to read, if the children discover which sounds
are related to different letters they are able identify unfamiliar words. This
speciﬁcknowledge is related directly to reading skill development(Backman,
Bruck, Herbert & Seidenberg 1984; Manis & Morrison 1985).
Phonological awareness is a form of metalinguistic awareness and refers to
the ability to carry out mental operations on speech (Morais 1991; Sinclair,
Jarvella & Levelt 1978; Tunmer & Herriman 1984; Tunmer & Rohl 1991).
This ability does not constitute a homogeneous entity but rather is expressed
VICTORY: PIPS No.: 118776 LAWKAP
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