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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Academic Paper


Title: Learning about the letter name subset of the vocabulary: Evidence from US and Brazilian preschoolers
Author: Brett Kessler
Institution: Wayne State University
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics
Subject Language: English
Portuguese
Abstract: To examine the factors that affect the learning of letter names, an important foundation for literacy, we asked 318 US and 369 Brazilian preschoolers to identify each uppercase letter. Similarity of letter shape was the major determinant of confusion errors in both countries, and children were especially likely to interchange letters that were similar in shape as well as name. Errors were also affected by letter frequency, both general frequency and occurrence of letters in children's own names. Differences in letter names and letter frequencies between English and Portuguese led to certain differences in the patterns of performance for children in the two countries. Other differences appeared to reflect US children's greater familiarity with the conventional order of the alphabet. Boys were overrepresented at the low end of the continuum of letter name knowledge, suggesting that some boys begin formal reading instruction lacking important foundational skills.

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This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 27, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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