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Cultural Psychology on Reading Acquisition - Dictionary of Arguments

Slater I 136
Reading acquisition/cultural psychology: A survey of cross-language studies shows that the overwhelming majority of studies that have measured sound categorization and reading development have supported Bradley and Bryant’s (1983)(1) claims (see Ziegler & Goswami, 2005, for review)(2).
Bradley/Bryant: Thesis: Bradley and Bryant (1983) reported high and significant time-lagged correlations between initial sound categorization scores and children’s later reading and spelling performance.
As children’s language skills develop, they become able to detect and manipulate the units of sound that comprise spoken words in their language, and individual differences in these phonological awareness skills predict reading. Languages differ in their phonological structures, however, and so rhyme and alliteration are not always the dominant units of sound categorization. For example, in Chinese, which is a tonal language, syllable and tone awareness are the best early predictors of reading (McBride-Chang et al., 2008)(3). Nevertheless, alliteration and rhyme awareness are also significant predictors of reading acquisition in Chinese (Siok & Fletcher, 2001)(4).
Slater I 137
Comparisons of children’s performance in different cross-language studies have revealed that phonological awareness follows a sequential developmental path that appears language-universal. This path can be described in terms of different psycholinguistic “grain sizes” (syllable, rhyme, phoneme). The syllable is the primary perceptual linguistic unit across languages, and as phonological awareness develops, children first become aware of syllables (e.g., Liberman et al., 1974(5); Cossu et al., 1988(6); Wimmer et al., 1991(7); Hoien et al., 1995(8); for studies in English, Italian, German and Norwegian).
Across languages, pre-reading children are aware of the phonological structure of syllables at the onset-rime level (e.g., Wimmer Wimmer et al., 1994(9), German; Ho & Bryant, 1997(10), Chinese; Porpodas, 1999(11), Greek). Cross-language divergence comes only when the development of phoneme awareness is studied. > Phonemes/cultural psychology.



1. Bradley, L., & Bryant, P. E. (1983). Categorising sounds and learning to read: A causal connection. Nature, 310, 419–421.
2. Ziegler, C., and Goswami, U. (2005). Reading acquisition, developmental dyslexia, and skilled reading across languages: A psycholinguistic grain size theory. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 3–29.
3. McBride-Chang, C., Lam, F., Lam, C., Doo, S., Wong, S. W. L., & Chow, Y. Y. Y. (2008). Word recognition and cognitive profiles of Chinese pre-school children at risk for dyslexia through language delay or familial history of dyslexia. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 211–218.
4. Siok, W. T., & Fletcher, P. (2001). The role of phonological awareness and visual-orthographic skills in Chinese reading acquisition. Developmental Psychology, 37, 886–899.
5. Liberman, I. Y., Shankweiler, D., Fischer, F. W., & Carter, B. (1974). Explicit syllable and phoneme segmentation in the young child. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 18, 201–212.
6. Cossu, G., Shankweiler, D., Liberman, I. Y., Katz, L., & Tola, G. (1988). Awareness of phonological segments and reading ability in Italian children. Applied Psycholinguistics, 9, 1–16.
7. Wimmer, H., Landerl, K., Linortner, R., & Hummer, P. (1991). The relationship of phonemic awareness to reading acquisition: More consequence than precondition but still important. Cognition, 40, 219–249.
8. Hoien, T., Lundberg, L., Stanovich, K. E., & Bjaalid, I. K. (1995). Components of phonological awareness. Reading and Writing, 7, 171–188.
9. Wimmer, H., Landerl, K., & Schneider, W. (1994). The role of rhyme awareness in learning to read a regular orthography. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 12, 469–484.
10. Ho, C. S.-H. & Bryant, P. (1997). Phonological skills are important in learning to read Chinese. Developmental Psychology, 33, 946–951.
11. Porpodas, C. D. (1999). Patterns of phonological and memory processing in beginning readers and spellers of Greek. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32, 406–416.



Usha Goswami, „Reading and Spelling.Revisiting Bradley and Bryant’s Study“ in: Alan M. Slater & Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Cultural Psychology
Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012


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