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Towards the understanding of the alphabetic principle : conceptual changes as children learn to identify and spell novel words

Cordeiro, Maria Helena Baptista Vilares (1999) Towards the understanding of the alphabetic principle : conceptual changes as children learn to identify and spell novel words. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

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Abstract

Although a unifying view of literacy development is already implicit within several studies, much of the knowledge is still fragmented. Hence, practitioners lack a comprehensive theoretical framework within which to articulate their practice. This thesis contributes to this framework by investigating whether children's conceptions of the alphabetic system: 1) determine the quality of their orthographic representations and their ability to make inferences about graph-phonetic segments, 2) are affected by adults' explanations of how scripts represent speech and by the characteristics of the particular orthography that children are trying to learn. Sixty two monolingual Brazilian children (mean age 6 years) and 28 bilingual Portuguese children attending two schools in London (mean age 6:7 years), participated in this study, which involved a brief intervention (20 daily sessions). The findings suggested that children's full understanding of the alphabetic principle is not affected by orthographic transparency and that it is the result of a process involving two levels of conceptual change: 1) The characteristics of written words are not related to their meaning - letters represent sub-lexical phonological units. This allows children to detect phonological identity of the initial syllable and to produce syllabic spellings by collating letters that represent syllables. Explicit information about letter-sound correspondences is not essential for this understanding. 2) Adding up the sounds of letters does not produce a word - letters within words or syllables do not sound the same as in isolation. This discovery triggers the use of partial phonological recoding, the production of syllabicalphabetic spellings, the use of analogies and the detection of phonological identity based on articulatory cues. Explicit information about the role of the letters within words may facilitate this understanding and enables the children to work out the grapheme-phoneme correspondence, which is the last step towards grasping the alphabetic principle.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis: (PhD) University of London Institute of Education, 1999.
Depositing User: Batch Import
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2014 12:51
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2015 14:54
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