Linking the shapes of alphabet letters to their sounds: the case of Hebrew

Linking the shapes of alphabet letters to their sounds: the case of Hebrew Learning the sounds of letters is an important part of learning a writing system. Most previous studies of this process have examined English, focusing on variations in the phonetic iconicity of letter names as a reason why some letter sounds (such as that of b, where the sound is at the beginning of the letter’s name) are easier to learn than others (such as that of w, where the sound is not in the name). The present study examined Hebrew, where variations in the phonetic iconicity of letter names are minimal. In a study of 391 Israeli children with a mean age of 5 years, 10 months, we used multilevel models to examine the factors that are associated with knowledge of letter sounds. One set of factors involved letter names: Children sometimes attributed to a letter a consonant–vowel sound consisting of the first phonemes of the letter’s name. A second set of factors involved contrast: Children had difficulty when there was relatively little contrast in shape between one letter and others. Frequency was also important, encompassing both child-specific effects, such as a benefit for the first letter of a child’s forename, and effects that held true across children, such as a benefit for the first letters of the alphabet. These factors reflect general properties of human learning. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Reading and Writing Springer Journals

Linking the shapes of alphabet letters to their sounds: the case of Hebrew

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Linguistics; Language and Literature; Psycholinguistics; Education, general; Neurology; Literacy
ISSN
0922-4777
eISSN
1573-0905
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11145-010-9286-3
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Learning the sounds of letters is an important part of learning a writing system. Most previous studies of this process have examined English, focusing on variations in the phonetic iconicity of letter names as a reason why some letter sounds (such as that of b, where the sound is at the beginning of the letter’s name) are easier to learn than others (such as that of w, where the sound is not in the name). The present study examined Hebrew, where variations in the phonetic iconicity of letter names are minimal. In a study of 391 Israeli children with a mean age of 5 years, 10 months, we used multilevel models to examine the factors that are associated with knowledge of letter sounds. One set of factors involved letter names: Children sometimes attributed to a letter a consonant–vowel sound consisting of the first phonemes of the letter’s name. A second set of factors involved contrast: Children had difficulty when there was relatively little contrast in shape between one letter and others. Frequency was also important, encompassing both child-specific effects, such as a benefit for the first letter of a child’s forename, and effects that held true across children, such as a benefit for the first letters of the alphabet. These factors reflect general properties of human learning.

Journal

Reading and WritingSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 8, 2010

References

  • On the special status of the vowels a and e in Israeli Hebrew
    Bolozky, S
  • Letter names, letter sounds and phonological awareness: An examination of kindergarten children across letters and of letters across children
    Evans, MA; Bell, M; Shaw, D; Moretti, S; Page, J
  • Changes in letter sound knowledge are associated with development of phonological awareness in pre-school children
    Foy, JG; Mann, V
  • Pre-schoolers, print and storybooks: An observational study using eye movement analysis
    Justice, LM; Skibbe, L; Canning, A; Lankford, C

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