A cross-sectional study of prosodic sensitivity and reading difficulties


Address for correspondence: Andrew J. Holliman, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, UK. E-mail: a.holliman@coventry.ac.uk


In this cross-sectional study, we explore the relationship between prosodic sensitivity (suprasegmental phonology) and phonological awareness (segmental phonology) and investigate whether a group of poor readers display significant suprasegmental phonological deficits in comparison to chronological age-matched controls and younger, reading age-matched controls. Phonological awareness assessments were administered along with a battery of prosodic sensitivity assessments drawn from recent literature. The results showed that poor readers were outperformed by their chronological age-matched counterparts on all measures of prosodic sensitivity. A significant main effect of group was found on the revised stress mispronunciations task and the stress assignment task from the prosodic assessment battery, the former of which remained even after controlling for individual differences in receptive vocabulary and measures of phonological awareness. Significant relationships were also found between measures of prosodic sensitivity and phonological awareness (especially phoneme awareness). These findings emphasise the importance of both segmental and suprasegmental phonological skills in children's reading development.