Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9: 241–263, 1997.
1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Training phonological awareness: A study to evaluate the effects
of a program of metalinguistic games in kindergarten
FIONA BRENNAN and JUDITH IRESON
Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK
Abstract. A phonological awareness program was evaluated in a small-scale study using thirty
eight children from three intact kindergarten classes at an American school on the outskirts
of London. The average age of the children was ﬁve years four months. There was one
experimental class and two control classes. The experimental class received a Danish training
program of metalinguistic games and exercises. One control class used a kindergarten reading
and writing program called Success in Kindergarten Reading and Writing which incorporates
phonological awareness skills, but in an informal way. The other control class followed the
normal kindergarten program. The results showed that the children in the experimental group
and the Success in Kindergarten group had signiﬁcantly greater gains in reading and spelling
measures given at the end of the year. They also did better on six of the metalinguistic tests,
with the experimental group showing signiﬁcantly greater gains in all the tests of phoneme
awareness than the other two groups. The implications of a formal versus informal phonological
awareness training program are discussed.
Key words: Phonemic awareness, Phonological awareness, Reading, Spelling
In the last three decades there has been considerable research into children’s
reading. This research has yielded important insights into the acquisition of
normal reading and spelling skills and the problems that underlying reading
and spelling difﬁculties. One of the factors common to nearly all the research
is the consistent relationship between reading and phonological awareness.
Phonological awareness can be deﬁned as sensitivity to sounds in the
spoken language. It consists of various phonological abilities or insights.
Being able to judge which is the longer word in acoustic duration is one
such insight. Being able to rhyme words, or knowing that ‘toad’ is composed
of three distinctive sounds, or being able to say cat with the /t/ are other
insights (Juel 1988). Some phonological abilities may well be outcomes of
learning to read, but others appear deﬁnite prerequisites to learning to read.
Longitudinal studies, in which phonological awareness has been assessed in
kindergarten and the progress of reading acquisition has then been measured
in school, have indicated that certain phonological insights may be necessary
for the acquisition of reading. Where a training intervention program has
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