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The Roots of Learning to Read and Write: Acquisition of Letters and Phonemic Awareness in English Language Learner and English only children. Dr. Theresa.

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Presentation on theme: "The Roots of Learning to Read and Write: Acquisition of Letters and Phonemic Awareness in English Language Learner and English only children. Dr. Theresa."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Roots of Learning to Read and Write: Acquisition of Letters and Phonemic Awareness in English Language Learner and English only children. Dr. Theresa Roberts

2 Delighted to be here! Working with professionals who are: Knowledgeable Motivated Influential

3 Professional orientation to research Frame the questions Ask for the data Scrutinize the data Respond to the data

4 Major Purposes Explain the relationships between speech and print Explain why alphabet letters are very important for early literacy Discuss instructional approaches for teaching alphabetics Engage in discussion about hot topics Emphasize how all the above relates to research studies with ELLs

5 Reading: connecting speech and print Essential task in reading is to connect word pronunciations with written representations of those words –Necessary for comprehension to get a pronunciation of a word

6 Speech and print Learning these associations/connections between sounds in speech and graphemes in print is decoding: To help the child make these connections: –Speech sounds - phonological/phonemic awareness knowledge/instruction –Graphemes - letter names/sounds knowledge/instruction

7 What makes speech easy makes reading hard In speech sounds are interleaved and overlapped (coarticulated) –Speeds speech processing and lowers cognitive demand In reading, must unconnect these sounds in somewhat artificial manner – phonemic awareness

8 A few misunderstandings English, while more variable than other languages, is largely systematic in phoneme- grapheme correspondences Learning to read is somewhat of an unnatural process

9 Phases in learning the speech to print connection (Ehri, 1999) Pre-alphabetic Partial alphabetic Full alphabetic Consolidated alphabetic

10 Pre-alphabetic phase ( pre-k - grade 1) Lack letter knowledge and phonemic awareness Children resort to use of visual or contextual cues –McDonalds sign, Pepsi label Do not have word awareness as shown by fingerpoint reading Characteristic of children with limited informal and formal experience with the alphabet (preschool to grade 1 range)

11 Partial alphabetic phase (pre-K - grade 1) Know some names/sounds and have some phonemic awareness Form partial connections between speech and print –/jp/ for jump –Very evident in writing Initial and final sounds more salient Characteristic of preschool middle class and children with extensive informal and formal PA and alphabetic experiences

12 Full alphabetic phase (k- grade 2) Know how to segment and blend Know major vowel and consonant phoneme- grapheme relationships Have both PA and alphabet knowledge Characteristic of first grade children with rich PA and alphabetic instruction

13 Consolidated alphabetic phase (Grades 1-3) Know larger spelling patterns –Silent e Acquiring extensive sight vocabularies (pronunciation and word spelling glued together in memory) Accuracy and speed in decoding are important Characteristic of grade 2 children with extensive reading and good fluency

14 Instructional approaches for developing PA Purpose of PA instruction is to help children be able to connect letters to phonemes when they read or write letters Helps children move from pre- alphabetic to partial alphabetic phase

15 Informal and formal approaches to PA Both informal and formal approaches to teaching phonological/phonemic awareness have been suggested

16 Informal experiences for PA Nursery rhymes –Challenged –Letter knowledge more powerful than nursery rhymes (Johnston, Anderson & Holligan (1996) –Meaning may get in the way Inventive spelling Reading of alphabet books with initial sounds of words emphasized

17 Instruction for PA Differentiate: –Phonological awareness –Phonemic awareness

18 Instruction for PA Developmental progression should guide instruction: –Syllable/word counting –Isolating initial phonemes/rhyming/onset-rime –Segmenting and blending –Deleting phonemes –Substituting phonemes

19 Instruction for PA Many programs are effective at kindergarten and some studies show programs effective at pre-k Concurrent and later reading-related performance improves with instruction Instruction most beneficial for those most at risk

20 Alphabet letters are our friends Knowledge of alphabet letters and phonemic awareness are the two best predictors of beginning reading competence Alphabet letter knowledge influences later reading as well, but less strongly Includes knowing shapes, names, sounds Which is most critical?

21 Learning alphabet letters Is substantially a paired associate learning task Is difficult- there are 40 shapes to be learned whose names are arbitrary Requires significant practice Children are oriented to meaning rather than print (write apple in red, believe bear should be a longer word than caterpillar) What are the implications for learning of these facts ?

22 Alphabet letter factoids All but one letter name contains clues to a phoneme it represents Letters with the name at the beginning are easier to learn than those with the name at the end (letter b vs. letter f ) Capital letters are easier to learn than lower case letters There are 40 different shapes to be learned Some letters are highly confusable with other letters

23 Informal and formal approaches to the alphabet Like PA, both informal and formal learning approaches have been suggested

24 Informal experience for learning letters Singing the alphabet song Manipulating alphabet letters Learning to write personal names Watching Sesame Street etc. Reading alphabet books Reading storybooks Attending to environmental print Rank these from most to least effective

25 Writing your name gets your letter name learning engine going Name and letter knowledge linked (Bloodgood, 1999) 3-year olds name knowledge in advance of other literacy Know names of letters in own name best (Treiman & Broderick, 1998) Names, not sounds, promoted by personal name knowledge

26 Book reading During storybook reading, little attention directed to letters Alphabet book reading with attention to letters and words containing them (usually initial sounds) can be effective For ELLs, alphabet letter instruction decontextualized from storybook reading more effective. What might be the reasons for this?

27 Alphabet song Familiarizes children with the letter names Depends on how it is used whether it teaches the letter names and the letter shapes How might teaching ensure the alphabet song helps with learning letter shapes?

28 Environmental print Children are actually learning the visual signs and are not attending to print –Studies where arches removed from McDonalds and Pepsi written separately show children cannot recognize the print –Fail to recognize changes in the print xepsi for pepsi

29 Instructional principles for learning letters Learn to recognize visually and write letters Connect the letter names/sounds with the grapheme repeatedly –Oral production important Need sufficient instruction and practice

30 Methods of teaching alphabetics Mnemonics Help with making the letters efficiently –templates Names versus sounds –All letters but one contain clues to the sounds –Letter names are more stable than letter sounds-important for ELLs Make letters and sounds concrete and stable

31 Mnemonics principles Link letters to sounds in words –Integrated picture mnemonics When the mnemonic does not link letters to their sounds, only limited benefit (Marsh & Desberg, 1978) –Pumpkin picture for /p/ –Boy blowing out a candle and saying /p/ –When pictures removed, no advantage –May be best used for initial learning

32 Integrated mnemonic

33 Help with making the letters efficiently Templates with directionality Modeling of correct letter making Attend to the fine motor control challenges of young children White boards Writing experiences

34 Names versus sounds All letter names but one contain clues to a sound for that letter Letter names are more stable than letter sounds-important for ELLs More sounds than letters so ultimately need to systematically include all sounds –/sh /

35 Making alphabetics concrete Particularly important for Ells with limited English Use markers, tiles, movable letters A reason letter names may be preferred over letter sounds for initial instruction Particularly important for PA instruction- why?

36 A big worry Low income and English learners are much more likely to enter K with limited letter knowledge Teachers are also more reluctant to offer such instruction to these same children Programs for low income children have not had a strong emphasis on and effectiveness in teaching letters

37 Hot topics: Preschool reading foundations What to develop? –How much attention to decoding skills? –Are letter names or letter sounds best? –Upper case or lower case, sequence of letters, rhyming? How to develop? –Teacher led versus child-initiated? –Contextualized versus decontextualized? When to develop? – - Is preschool too early? –Child interest? –English oral proficiency?

38 Research study citations: Roberts, T. (2003). Effects of alphabet letter instruction on young childrens word recognition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, Roberts, T. & Neal, H. (2004). Relationships among preschool English language learners Oral proficiency in English, instructional experience and literacy development. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29, Ehri, L. C. & Roberts, T. A. (2005). The roots of learning to read and write. In Newman, S. & Dickinson, D. (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research, vol.II, pp New York, NY: Guilford Press. Roberts, T. (2005). Articulation accuracy and vocabulary size contributions to phonemic awareness and word reading in English language learners. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(4),

39 Purpose of my studies Development of alphabetic knowledge in preschool and kindergarten English Language Learners from two language groups Developmental patterns in the context of instructional experience (explicit, small group, decontextualized) Relationships among alphabetic knowledge and other components of language and reading (oral proficiency, pronunciation)

40 Participants Preschool and kindergarten ELLs from low socioeconomic families Two preschool studies (35-44 children) Two kinder studies (126 and 27 children) Children attended one site Drawn from all 4 preschool classes and all 5 kindergarten classes at the school Hmong, Spanish and English primary languages All learning to read in L2 only (70-80% of ELLs in US)

41 Preschool instructional variation Random assignment across teachers Treatments: –Alphabet letter/rhyme instruction –Comprehension/vocabulary instruction –Decontextualized vs contextualized alphabet instruction Differences in the studies: –Duration (8 or 16 weeks) –Frequency (2 or 3X weekly) –Type (decontextualized vs contextualized )

42 Preschool measures Letter naming (0-16) Rhyme generation (0-10) Storybook vocabulary (0-30) Paired associate learning of simplified word spellings (6 word pairings, 7 trials) (0-42) –Phonetic (BL for ball, JMP for jump) –Visually distinct (QN for ball, cFy for jump) Pre-IPT test of English oral proficiency

43 Is knowing letters causally connected to word reading? Experimental study (Roberts, 2003) Previous evidence correlational Studies from 1980s concluded not causal Ehri (1983) critiqued these studies I decided to retest this with improved methodology in predominantly ELL population

44 Methodology Random assignment to explicit alphabet letter instruction or storybook reading instruction Taught 16 letters- 16 weeks- letters A-P After instruction ended taught children paired associate word spellings and tested their learning of these words over one session

45 Word learning trials Children taught to spell three kinds of words: – simplified phonetic spellings based on letters included in the letter instruction (e.g. BL for ball; KND for candy); –simplified phonetic spellings with letters not included in letter instruction (e.g. ZR for zipper; RYS for rice) –visually distinct spellings (e.g. sT for lunch; cFy for apple) If letter knowledge a cause, what should happen?

46 Phonetic spellings with taught letters

47 Phonetic spellings with letters not taught

48 Visually distinctive spellings



51 Results Alphabet letter instruction children learned the phonetic spellings using letters they had been taught significantly better than either a) phonetic spellings with not taught letters or b) visually distinct letters Storybook instruction children learned visually distinctive spellings best

52 Conclusion Learning alphabet letters is a cause in learning phonetically spelled words in ELL and EO children. Letter name instruction helped move children from the pre-alphabetic to the partial alphabetic phase of reading

53 How much alphabet letter instruction was needed? Sixteen weeks of instruction that covered one letter a week for 3 X week with no more than 30 minute lessons was adequate for relatively high levels of alphabet letter learning. 24 hours of explicit alphabet letter instruction, or no more that 1 ½ hours per week was adequate for significant alphabet learning.

54 Amplification of letter name learning instruction In our studies children who received instruction began knowing about 2.75 letters and ended knowing an average of 11/16 letters taught Put them very close to middle class counterparts 1/2 year program Limited to 20 mins. 3X per week Included 3 year olds Comparison scores of 50% (no formal instruction) to 78% (instruction)

55 But is it developmentally appropriate? However, preschool childrens participation in skill-oriented, explicit small group instruction of the type used in this study has been argued against. For example, the most recent statement on developmentally appropriate practice published by the National Association for Young Children (1998) concludes, after reviewing studies showing positive effects of explicit training on phonemic awareness for kindergarten and grade 1 children, Yet, whether such training is appropriate for younger-age children is highly suspect (p.4). They also state, In the preschool years sensitizing children to sound similarities does not seem to be dependent on formal training but rather from (sic) listening to patterned, predictable texts while enjoying the feel of reading and language (p. 4). Yet no direct evidence was used to support these assertions.

56 But is it developmentally appropriate? One might argue that just because the instruction worked, it could still be out of alignment with the cognitive characteristics and inclinations of children. Childrens apparent utilization of letter names for learning to recognize words without instruction or guidance to do so provides strong evidence that the instructional experiences and simple word learning tasks were developmentally appropriate. (Roberts, 2003)

57 Oral language proficiency Children with the lowest levels of oral language proficiency (level a-b) showed the same pattern of results Oral language proficiency more related to vocabulary than alphabetics

58 Correlations between oral language and posttest letter naming and vocabulary Measure Oral Language 1 Oral Language 2 Vocab Letter Naming Oral Language 1.80***.67***.42* Oral Language 2.57***.30 Vocabulary.14 p.05 p.01** p.001***

59 Whats up with rhyming? Preschool ELL children were not successful with learning to rhyme in either the 8- week or 16-week study Learning to generate rhymes is a very difficult task for preschool English language learners Alliteration may be better? Kinder ELL children can learn rhyming

60 Whats up with rhyming? Controversy in the primary language literature –Phonological or phonemic? –How relevant to reading? Different issue- task difficulty? –Phoneme identity? (Roberts, 2003) –Vocabulary? –Verbal memory? In kindergarten, only task on which EO better than both groups of ELLs

61 Decontextualized small group instruction Pre-K ELLs were able to learn alphabet letters in small group and decontextualized instruction Instructional Press concept: The nature and focus of instruction directs attention and activates strategies (Roberts & Neal, 2004)

62 But does knowing letters influence later reading in ELLs?

63 Kindergarten measures Upper case letter name (0-26) and letter sound (0-26) production Rhyme, blend, segment phonemic awareness test (0-30) Word recognition (2-4 letters) (0-16) –High frequency (4), decodable (6), decodable pseudowords (6) IPT- 1 Test of English oral proficiency (1- 5)

64 Preschool to kindergarten Preschool explicit alphabet instruction was linked with kindergarten letter name knowledge End of preschool letter knowledge was associated with kindergarten letter names, letter sounds and word reading End of preschool phonetic spelling was associated with kindergarten PA and word reading

65 Preschool to kindergarten

66 Preschoolers as super literacy people Preschool phonetic word learning ability was related to word reading at the end of kindergarten. –Previous work has demonstrated importance of PA –Childrens earliest attempts to use phonetic information in learning written words is also an important component of phonological sensitivity. –Using phonetic information to read and write words may be warranted in preschool.

67 Preschool to kindergarten conclusion Not only are preschool ELL children capable of using letter name knowledge in learning to read words, their ability to do so supports phonemic awareness and decodable word reading one year later.

68 Some interesting between language findings

69 Between language differences ELL= EO on alphabetics, word reading & number recognition EO > ELL on rhyme Spanish = English on blend, segment English > Hmong on blend, segment Spanish > Hmong on blend

70 Between language differences Differences exist between groups of ELLs. –Differences between Hmong and Spanish-primary children were as great as differences between ELL and EO children –Differences on PA, but not alphabetics –What may be going on?

71 Between language differences –Between language variability within the ELL population merits more careful study –Differences strongest between ELL groups on more linguistically mediated tasks

72 First and second language literacy Similarities in reading of ELL and EO children –ELL children are capable of inducing important understandings between alphabet letter knowledge and word reading (preschool study). –Preschool literacy was also predictive of kindergarten literacy, showing another similarity between ELL and English only children (kindergarten study).

73 First and second language literacy English learners alphabet knowledge is in advance of their phonemic awareness –potential educational significance It appears easier to promote alphabetics than a measure of phonological awareness (Rhyming) in ELLs Use of alphabet as a tool for PA learning should be explored

74 First and second language literacy Possible differences in reading of ELL and EO children –ELL children may have greater challenges on tasks that are more linguistic (PA) compared to alphabetics. –Alphabet knowledge may precede and prepare a foundation for phonological awareness.

75 Possible teaching sequence for letters to phoneme awareness Teach letters Show/teach simplified phonetic spellings (use taught letters) and word meaning –BT for bat (letters with sounds at beginning of letter name) Introduce markers, tiles, movable letters and delete/switch letters

76 Quality of Instruction for ELLs

77 Separate content from quality Separate content of instruction from quality of instruction –Assume alphabetics and drill and kill the same –And much practice is needed

78 Quality of instruction Instruction was designed to ensure that children understood task instructions, to draw on childrens competencies and to engage and respond to childrens language use. Less participatory and activity-based group instruction with preschool English learner children may not have been as successful. (Roberts & Neal, 2004)

79 Quality of instruction Concrete activities Language simplification Highlighting the most important language Routine within lessons Repeated exposure to and practice with lesson content, review Ongoing oral participation Carefully designed sequence of increasing difficulty

80 Curricula/program evaluation tool Shapes and names, sounds? Letter writing? Integrated mnemonics? Articulation cues, oral production? Use of personal names? Concrete supports for name, SOUND learning?

81 Curricula/program evaluation tool Use of alphabet books? Upper/lower, confusable letters? Use of Alphabet song? Opportunity for practice, review? Interest, motivation?

82 Evaluation specific to ELL Instructional language appropriate level? Verbal memory load? Level of vocabulary? Concrete activities, TPR? Signal to noise good? Articulation support and oral production? Routinized instruction? Opportunity for ethnic specific experiences and models? –Pet show book

83 New hot topic Does the quality of ELL childrens pronunciation influence their beginning reading? Pronunciation is only a surface feature and will self-correct? Pronunciation reflects childrens phoneme knowledge which will influence their ability to learn the phoneme-grapheme equation necessary for word reading?

84 New hot topic What is the importance of teacher oral proficiency on childrens literacy and language development? –Alphabetics and phonemic awareness –Vocabulary, language acquisition What are the implications of this for workforce preparation and certification?

85 New hot topic Vocabulary differences at preschool entry are huge and related to quantity of language in the home How to support language development from birth to age 3? What about children who speak a language other than English?

86 Engender open discussion on: Role of child oral proficiency Effectiveness of small group instruction Decontextualized and contextualized instruction What areas of speech matter for ELL preschool literacy Intensity and duration of instruction (practice, review, amount of instruction) Role of teacher oral proficiency

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