The morpho-phonological nature of English orthography is examined in this study of the relation between morphological sensitivity and decoding ability in the latter elementary grades. Children in grades three to six were required to distinguish derivationally-related word pairs (e.g., nature-natural) from foil pairs that are related in spelling but not in morphology (e.g., ear-earth). The materials included both transparently-related (i.e., the second word incorporated the pronunciation of the first, as in person-personal) and complexly-related word pairs (i.e., the second word involved some change in pronunciation, as in atom-atomic). Across two experiments, these items were presented in either oral or written form along with various tests of reading ability, intelligence and phonological awareness. The results indicate that children's recognition of derivational relationships improved with grade-level. As anticipated, there was also a significant association between sensitivity to derivational relatedness and decoding ability which remains significant even when the word pairs were orally presented and even when phonological awareness in taken into account. Both phonological awareness and sensitivity to morphological structure emerge as important factors in decoding skill in the later elementary grades.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 7, 2004
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