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October 2021

Phonological awareness of syllables, rhymes, and phonemes in deaf children

Author(s): Goswami, U.

Journal/Book: J Child Psychol Psychiat. 2000; 41: 40 West 20Th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA. Cambridge Univ Press. 609-625.

Abstract: Phonological awareness is important for reading development in hearing children, in whom it develops at the three consecutive levels of the syllable, rhyme, and phoneme. Deaf children typically have literacy difficulties, and previous research has been equivocal about whether deaf children can develop phonological awareness. Three experiments are presented that investigate the phonological skills of deaf children (mean age 11 years) at the three linguistic levels of syllable, rhyme, and phoneme. The first experiment showed that deaf children's syllable awareness can be equivalent to that of chronological age-matched hearing controls. In the second experiment, deaf children's ability to make rhyme judgements was above chance, but poorer than that of younger reading-matched hearing controls. The third experiment showed that deaf children could phonologically recode nonsense words at a level above chance, suggesting that they could draw on phonemic skills in certain conditions. We conclude that deaf children can develop phonological awareness, but that their phonological skills lag those of hearing children and may develop in different ways. Differences between our tasks and those used in other studies are discussed.

Note: Article Goswami U, Inst Child Hlth, 30 Guilford St, London WC1N 1EH, ENGLAND

Keyword(s): development; hearing loss; language; phonological processing; reading; SPOKEN WORD RECOGNITION; READING-DISABILITY; SEGMENTATION; HYPOTHESIS; SPEECH; ADULTS


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