First Advisor

Rhea Paul

Term of Graduation

Winter 1993

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




English language -- Phonology, Slow learning children, Reading readiness



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, v, 53 pages)


While there is general agreement among researchers in the field of language and learning disabilities upon the language hypothesis for reading failure, little research has been explored concerning the relationship between the phonological production skills of preschool children and the same children's prereading abilities in kindergarten.

This study examined two aspects of phonological skill (a) the relationship of early phonological production errors and later success on phonological awareness and general prereading skill, and (b) determining if prereading deficits in a group of children with a history of language delay reside specifically in the phonological awareness items or the prereading score in general.

The subjects used for this study included 29 "normal" talkers and 30 "late talkers", as determined by the Language Development Survey when the subjects were between 20-34 months. When the subjects were three years old, a language sample was obtained and later phonemically transcribed from audio tape and entered into the PEPPER computer program to compute the percentage consonants correct (PCC) for each child. The subjects were later evaluated during their kindergarten year for reading readiness, using the Developmental Skills Checklist.

This study found that Late Talkers have significantly lower PCCs than there normal talking peers at age three, but their PCCs do not predict their prereading or phonological awareness skills at kindergarten. Phonological awareness was further investigated in terms of suprasegmental and segmental levels of phonological awareness, there was no significant difference between the groups on either level of phonological awareness. However, there was a nonsignificant trend (p<.10) in favor of the normals on the segmental level of phonological awareness. considerable variable in 3 performance was found on this measure, indicating that important differences between the groups might be found to be significant if a larger sample were employed. Late Talkers scored within the normal range but considerably lower than their peers with normal language history in total prereading at kindergarten. Their primary deficit in the prereading measure resided in the memory subtest, which contained the segmental level of phonological awareness as well as short term verbal memory items. Short term verbal memory items have been shown to reflect difficulty in retrieval of phonological codes from memory in learning disabled students.

It seems that Late Talkers have difficulties in manipulating sound segments, and perhaps in verbal short term memory. Skills such as retrieving phonological codes from memory and phonological awareness are known to be related to reading acquisition and to learning disorders. These findings strengthen the suggestion that Late Talkers may be at risk for reading failure even though general oral language skills are in the normal range.


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