Early Reading Development Research

This study investigated the predictive relationship between key phonological language skills and early reading development in a sample of 191 children, averaging 4 years and 6 months in age. In addition, this study explored the theory that the failure to establish an automatic association between letters and speech sounds is a proximal causal risk factor for difficulties in learning to read.

Authors: Francina J. Clayton, Gillian West, Claire Sears, Charles Hulme & Arne Lervåg
(Scientific Studies of Reading, 1-17, June 2019)

To conduct this study, subjects were tested four times over the course of 14 months. During each testing period, subjects participated in a task that was designed to measure the automatic letter-sound integration and a range of measures assessing early reading and language skills. The task involved a visual prime, 50% of trials used letters and 50% of trials used one of five novel letter-like forms. After the initial prime, an auditory letter-sound target was emitted. Subjects were then prompted to decide whether the 2nd stimulus was a speech sound (one of the five-letter sounds), or a “robot voice” (mixed and rerecorded versions of the five-letter sounds.) Responses were recorded both for speed and accuracy.

The results of this study show that automatic letter-sound associations do not predict variations in reading development, however, phoneme awareness, letter-sound knowledge, and alphanumeric RAN are strong independent predictors of reading development.

Read more about the research here.