The English orthography represents both phonemes and morphemes, implying that sensitivity to each of these units could play a role in the acquisition of decoding skills. This study offers some new evidence about sensitivity to morphemes and the decoding skills of American children in grades three to six. It focuses on knowledge of derivational suffixes, which is examined with sentence completion and sentence acceptability tasks that manipulate the suffixes in real words (e.g., electric, electricity) and nonsense derived forms (e.g., froodly, froodness). Both written and spoken materials are considered over the course of two experiments in which the children also received various reading tests, as well as tests of phonological awareness, vocabulary and intelligence. The results indicate that knowledge of derivational suffixes increases with grade level, along with decoding ability and phoneme awareness. Path analyses further reveal that, although there is a consistent correlation between performance on the derivational suffix materials and phoneme awareness and decoding ability, performance on the derivational suffix materials makes an independent and increasing contribution to decoding ability throughout the higher elementary grades.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 7, 2004
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