Phonological contrasts and word-decoding skills of the reader of English as a second language Public Deposited

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  • Purpose of the Study The purpose of the present study was to investigate the extent to which phoneme and grapheme-phoneme contrasts between English and Spanish influence the word-decoding skills of Spanish-speaking adults who are early readers of English. The major objectives of the research were to investigate: 1. The differences in subjects' discrimination between sounds contained in both English and Spanish and those found in English only. 2. The differences in subjects' decoding of nonsense words containing letter-sound combinations occurring in both English and Spanish and those found in English only. 3. Differences in sound-discrimination and word-decoding between native speakers of Spanish and English. 4. Differences among English proficiency levels in sounddiscrimination and word-decoding performance. 5. The influence of a contrast between Spanish and English in spelling the same sound (e.g., ph and f) on the ability of Spanish-speakers to decode English words containing such letter-sounds. 6. The degree of association between performances in sound-discrimination and word-decoding. Procedures Two exercises, one in sound-discrimination and the other in word-decoding, were administered to two main groups of subjects. The first was made up of seventy-four Spanish-speaking adults on four levels of English- language proficiency. The second, a control group, was composed of twenty native-English-speaking adults. Results were analyzed for significant differences in performance by means of three-way analysis of variance. Degree of association between performances on Exercises 1 and 2 was measured by the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient. Findings of the Study No significant difference existed in sound-discrimination performance on nonsense words containing familiar as compared to unfamiliar sounds. Moreover, position of the experimental sound in the word produced no significant difference. However, significant differences appeared in word-decoding performance on words containing familiar as compared to unfamiliar letter-sounds and on letter-sounds in terminal and initial position as compared to medial in favor of the former.Significant differences on both exercises were revealed between English-speakers and Spanish-speakers and between subjects on higher and lower levels of English-language proficiency in favor of the former. The use of an unfamiliar spelling for a sound familiar to Spanishspeakers resulted in a significant difference in decoding accuracy between words containing that feature and words with letter-sounds found in both languages. Finally, slight to moderate association was revealed between performances on items in Exercise 1 and corresponding items in Exercise 2. Implications The implications of these findings are that difficulties in word-decoding for Spanish-speaking adults are associated with the presence of letter-sounds which are not found in Spanish. Unfamiliar spellings of sounds that occur in Spanish are also associated with problems in word-decoding. As English-language proficiency increases, such difficulties tend to decrease. Recommendations Further Research 1. Theoretical research a. Investigation of reasons for Level 50's high performance level b. Investigation of the association between word-decoding and word-comprehension c. Replication of the present study with the substitution of different sounds and letter-sounds and with speakers of other languages as subjects 2. Research into the utility of selected methodological techniques a. Informal Reading Inventories (I.R.I.'s) b. Word-decoding drills c. Word-practice in a variety of contexts d. Appropriate audio-visual materials e. Criterion-referenced tests
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