Preschoolers’ metalinguistic and visual capabilities may be associated with the writing system of their culture. We examined patterns of performance in phonological awareness, naming of letters, morphological awareness, and visual-spatial relations, in 5-year-old native speakers of Spanish (n = 43), Hebrew (n = 40), and Cantonese (n = 63) and the relations of these literacy related skills to concurrent word writing and word reading. The writing systems in these languages represent three major categories, i.e., alphabetic (Spanish), abjad (Hebrew), and morphosyllabic (Chinese). Phonological awareness, letter naming, and perception of visual-spatial relations differed across groups, whereas morphological awareness showed a similar level of attainment in all three languages. Stepwise regression analyses explaining writing and reading for each language separately revealed both commonalities and differences between languages. Phonological awareness assessed by initial syllable deletion contributed to writing and to reading in Cantonese and in Spanish. Phonological awareness assessed by final phoneme isolation explained reading in Hebrew, whereas final and initial phoneme isolation explained writing in Hebrew. Letter naming predicted both writing and reading in Spanish and in Hebrew, while perception of visual-spatial relations did so in Cantonese. At age 5, children’s metalinguistic knowledge and visual discrimination abilities are already attuned to the particular features of the writing system to which they are exposed.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 24, 2011
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