Children’s Literacy Study Links Hearing Words to Reading Ability for First Time

(ABC Australia) Parents should be actively talking to their children as well as reading to them if they want to boost their literacy skills, a study from Macquarie University has found.

Researchers from the Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders have for the first time demonstrated the link between hearing words and being able to read them.

Using special eye-tracking technology, neuropsychologist Signy Wegener has established that when children hear a word, it prepares them to be able to read it later on.

The findings from the Australian Research Council centre have been published in the journal Developmental Science.

“It really confirms the importance of teaching oral vocabulary to children,” Ms Wegener said. “It helps them to expect what they see when they see it written for the first time.”

“Once children do have that knowledge of how sounds map onto letters, then this is really a skill that can support reading throughout early childhood and into middle childhood and beyond,” Ms Wegener said.

“These findings also support the addition of oral vocabulary instruction in the classroom when it comes to teaching our kids how to spell.”

Doctorate supervisor Professor Anne Castles said while there had long been studies showing a correlation between oral vocabulary and reading ability, this was the first study to demonstrate the actual link.

“This is really ground-breaking because it’s showing an intimate relationship between vocabulary and reading which we’ve never really been able to demonstrate before,” she said.

“We’ve known children starting to read [and] how good their vocabulary is is one of the best predictors of their reading ability, but we haven’t known what the mechanism is.”

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Publication:      ABC Australia
Author:             Alison Branley
Publish Date:   7.17.2017