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Neuroscience and Reading

The International Journal of Behavioral Development had a special section on literacy development with a focus on neuroscientific methods. One paper was of particular relevance to the theme of this blog, Brain event-related potentials to phoneme contrasts and their correlation to reading skills in school-age children. It was written by a group of authors I won’t bother listing. If you want to read it, it is at:

This paper confirms much of what I have been blogging about – the importance of teaching the individual sounds of an L2. In the conclusion they say:

Overall, our results show that processing of uncommon speech sound contrasts with respect to native language is associated with reading skills. … Our results also support the link between speech perception, phonological skills, and reading skills, particularly in opaque orthographies.

One of my earlier posts, Fine Tuning Phonics 1, quoted Dr. Usha Goswami of Cambridge where she pointed out the importance of phonemic awareness to L1 reading:

…the way in which the brain represents the sound-structure of spoken language – phonology – is critical for the future development of literacy. The brain develops phonological ‘representations’ in response to spoken language exposure and learning to speak, and the quality of these phonological representations determines literacy acquisition. (Goswami)

If the individual sounds are central to L1 reading, it only follows that they would be equally important to L2 reading. These papers confirm that being able to hear the sounds, phonemic awareness, is essential.

That is what b4 does.

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