Phonological suprasegmental skills and reading development in primary school children

  • Nuria Calet Universidad de Granada
  • María Flores Universidad de Granada
  • Gracia Jiménez-Fernández Universidad de Granada
  • Sylvia Defior Universidad de Granada


Recent literature research has shown the influence of suprasegmental phonology (the awareness of prosodic features such as stress, timing, and intonation) on literacy acquisition. However, the majority of these studies have been carried out in English. Moreover, the lexical level has been the most explored component. The current study analyzes the relationship between suprasegmental phonology skills and reading development in 92 Spanish primary-school children of 5thgrade. Vocabulary, phonological awareness, suprasegmental skills (lexical- and metrical-stress sensitivity, and non-linguistic rhythm) along with reading aloud and reading comprehension were assessed. Results suggest that suprasegmental phonology predicts a significative amount of variance in reading once phonological awareness and vocabulary were controlled. Furthermore, the components of suprasegmental skills (lexical- and metrical-stress sensitivity, and non-linguistic rhythm) have different relationships with reading skills.


Download data is not yet available.


Alarcos. E. (2007). Gramática de la Lengua Española. Madrid: Espasa Calpe.

Anthony, J.L. y Lonigan, C.J. (2004). The nature of phonological sensi-tivity: Converging evidence from four studies of preschool and early-grade school children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(1), 43-55. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.96.1.43.

Benjamin, R.G. y Schwanenflugel, P. (2010). Text complexity and oral reading prosody in young readers. Reading Research Quarterly, 45(4), 388-404. doi:10.1598/RRQ.45.4.2.

Bradley, L., y Bryant, P. (1983). Categorizing sounds and learning to read a causal connection. Nature, 301, 419-421. doi:10.1038/301419a0.

Calet, N., Gutiérrez-Palma, N., Simpson, I., González-Trujillo., MC., y Defior, S. (2015). Suprasegmental Phonology Development and Literacy Acquisition: A Longitudinal Study. Scientific Studies of Read-ing, 19, 57–71. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2014.976342.

Caravolas, M., Lervåg, A., Mousikou, P., Efrim, C., Litavský, M., Onochie-Quintanilla, E., Salas, N., Schöffelová, M., Defior, S., Mikulajová, M., Seidlová-Málková, G., y Hulme, C. (2012). Common patterns of prediction of literacy development in different alphabetic orthographies. Psychological Science, 23(6), 678–686. doi: 10.1177/0956797611434536.

Caravolas, M., Lervåg, A., Defior, S., Seidlová Málková, G., y Hulme, C. (2013). Different patterns, but equivalent predictors, of growth in reading in consistent and inconsistent orthographies. Psychological Science, 24(8), 1398-1407. doi: 10.1177/0956797612473122.

Dauer, R. M. (1983). Stress-timing and syllable-timing reanalyzed. Journal of Phonetics, 11, 51–62.

Defior, S. (2008). ¿Cómo estimular el aprendizaje inicial de la lectoes-critura? Papel de las habilidades fonológicas. Infancia y Aprendizaje, 31(3), 333–345.

Cutler, A., y Mehler, J. (1993). The periodicity bias. Journal of Phonetics, 21, 103-108.

David, D., Wade-Woolley, L., Kirby, J.R., y Smithrim, K. (2007). Rhythm and reading development in school-age children: A longitudinal study. Journal of Research in Reading, 30(2), 169–183. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2006.00323.

Defior, S., Fonseca, L., Gottheil, B., Aldrey, A., Rosa, G., Pujals, M., et al. (2006). LEE. Test de Lectura y Escritura en Español. Buenos Aires: Paidós.

Defior, S., Gutiérrez-Palma N., y Cano-Marín, MJ. (2012). Prosodic awareness skills and literacy acquisition in Spanish. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 41(4), 285-94. doi: 10.1007/s10936-011-9192-0.

Defior, S. y Tudela, P. (1994). Effect of Phonological Training on Reading and Writing Acquisition. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 6(3), 299-320. doi: 10.1007/BF01027087.

Defior, S., y Serrano, F. (2011). Procesos fonológicos explícitos e implícitos, lectura y dislexia. Revista Neuropsicología, Neuropsiquiatría y Neurociencias, 11(1), 79-94.

Deterding, D. (2012). Issues in the acoustic measurement of rhythm. In J. Romero-Trillo (Ed.), Pragmatics and prosody in English language teaching (pp. 9–24). Dordrecht: Springer. Retrieved from:

Dupoux, E., Peperkamp, S., y Sebastián-Gallés, N. (2001). A robust method to study “stress deafness”. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America, 110, 1606-1618. doi:10.1121/1.1380437.

Frederickson, N., Frith, U., y Reason, R. (1997). Phonological Assessment Battery. Windsor, UK: NFER Nelson.

González-Trujillo, M.C, Defior, S. y Gutiérrez-Palma, N. (2014). The role of non-speech rhythm in Spanish word reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 37, 3, 316-330. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2012.01529.x

Goswami, U., Thomson, J., Richardson, U., Stainthorp, R., Hughes, D., Rosen, S., y Scott, S.K. (2002). Amplitude envelope onsets and developmental dyslexia: A new hypothesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99(16), 10911-10916. doi:10.1073/pnas.122368599.

Goodman, I., Libenson, A., y Wade-Woolley, L. (2010). Sensitivity to linguistic stress, phonological awareness and early reading ability in preschoolers. Journal of Research in Reading, 33(2), 113–127. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2009.01423.x.

Gough, P. B., y Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7, 6-10.

Gutierrez-Palma, N., y Palma-Reyes, A. (2007). Stress sensitivity and Reading performance in Spanish: A study with children. Journal of Research in Reading, 30(2), 157-168.doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2007.00339.x.

Gutiérrez-Palma, N., Raya-García, M., y Palma-Reyes, A. (2009). Detecting stress patterns is related to reading performance on reading tasks. Applied Psycholinguistics, 30, 1-21. doi:10.1017/S0142716408090012.

Holliman, A., Critten, S., Lawrence, T., Harrison E., Wood, C., y Hughes, D. (2014). Modeling the relationship between prosodic sensitivity and early literacy. Reading research quarterly, 49 (4), 469–482. doi: 10.1002/rrq.82.

Holliman, A., Wood, C., y Sheehy, K. (2008). Sensitivity to speech rhythm explains individual differences in reading ability independently of phonological awareness. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 26, 357–367. doi: 10.1348/026151007X241623.

Holliman, A., Wood, C., y Sheehy, K. (2010). A cross-sectional study of prosodic sensitivity and reading difficulties. Journal of Research in Reading, 35(1), 32-48. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2010.01459.x.

Holliman, A., Williams, G., Mundy, I., Wood, C., Hart, L., y Waldron, S. (2013) Beginning to disentangle the prosody-literacy relationship: A multi-component measure of prosodic sensitivity. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 27(2), 255. doi: 10.1007/s11145-013-9443-6.

Hulme, C., y Snowling, M. J. (2014). The interface between spoken and written language: developmental disorders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 369(1634). doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0395.

Kitzen, K. (2001). Prosodic sensitivity, morphological ability, and reading ability in young adults with and without childhood histories of reading difficulty (tesis doctoral no publicada). Columbia University, New York, NY.

Kudo, M. F., Lussier, C. M., y Swanson, H. L. (2015). Reading disabilities in children: A selective meta-analysis of the cognitive literature. Research in developmental disabilities, 40, 51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2015.01.002.

Lindfield, K., Wingfield, A. y Goodglass, H. (1999). The role of proso-dy in the mental lexicon. Brain and Language, 68, 312–317.

Martínez Martín, J. A. y García Pérez, E. (2004) Diccionario de frecuencias del castellano escrito en niños de 6 a 12 años. Salamanca: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca.

Melby-Lervag M, Lyster S, y Hulme C. (2012). Phonological skills and their role in learning to read: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin. 138, 322–352. doi:10.1037/a0026744.

Miller, J., y Schwanenflugel, P. J. (2006). Prosody of syntactically complex sentences in the oral reading of young children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(4), 839–853. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.98.4.839.

Miller, J., y Schwanenflugel, P. J. (2008). A longitudinal study of the development of reading prosody as a dimension of oral reading fluency in early elementary school children. Reading Research Quarterly, 43(4), 336-354.doi:10.1598/RRQ.43.4.2.

Mullis, I.V.S., Martin, M.O., Foy, P., y Drucker, K.T. (2012). PIRLS 2011 international results in reading. Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.

National Institut of Child Health and Development (NICHD) (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office.

LaBerge, D. y Samuels, S.J. (1974). Toward a theory of automatic infor-mation processing in reading. Cognitive Psychology, 6(2), 293–323.doi:10.1016/0010-0285(74)90015-2.

Llisterri, J., Machuca, M. J., Mota, C., Riera, M., y Ríos, A. (2005). La per-cepción del acento léxico en castellano. In Filología y Lingüística. Estudios ofrecidos a Antonio Quilis. (Vol.1, pp.271-297). Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia - Universidad de Valladolid.

Pike, K. N. (1945). The intonation of American English. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Santisteban, L., Jiménez-Fernández, G., y Defior, S. (2014). Desarrollo de la representación ortográfica del acento y su relación con el aprendizaje del lenguaje escrito. Trabajo Fin de Máster no publicado. Universidad de Granada. España.

Share, D. (1995). Phonological recoding and self-teaching: Sine qua non of reading acquisition. Cognition, 55(2), 151–218.

Shattuck-Huffnagel, S., y Turk, A. E. (1996). A prosody tutorial for investigators of auditory sentence processing. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 25(2), 193-247. doi: 10.1007/BF01708572.

Snowling, M. J., y Hulme, C. (2005). Learning to read with a language impairment. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 397-412). Oxford: Blackwell.

Stamback, M. (1984). Tres pruebas de ritmo. In R. Zazzo (Ed.), Manual para el examen psicológico del niño. (Vol. 1, pp. 261–269). Madrid: Fundamentos.

Wagner, R. K., y Torgesen, J. K. (1987). The nature of phonological processing and its causal role in the acquisition of reading skills. Psychological Bulletin, 101(2), 192-212. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.101.2.192.

Whalley, K. y Hansen, J. (2006). The role of prosodic sensitivity in children’s reading development. Journal of Research in Reading, 29(3), 288-303. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2006.00309.x.

Wechsler, D. (2001). WPPSI-II: Escala de Inteligencia de Wechsler para Preescolar y Primaria. Madrid, Spain: TEA.

Wells, B., y Peppé, S. (2003). Intonation abilities of children with speech and language impairments. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46(1), 5-20. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/001).

Wood, C. (2006). Metrical stress sensitivity in young children and its relationship to phonological awareness and reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 29(1), 270–287. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2006.00308.x.

Wood, C., y Terrell, C. (1998). Poor readers’ ability to detect speech rhythm and perceive rapid speech. The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 16(3), 397–408. doi:10.1111/j.2044-835X.1998.tb00760.x.

Wood, C., Wade-Woolley, L., y Holliman, A.J. (2009). Phonological awareness: Beyond phonemes. In C. Wood & V. Connelly (Eds.), Contemporary perspectives on reading and spelling (pp. 7-23). London, England: Routledge.

Woodcock, R.W. y Muñoz-Sandoval, A. (1996). Batería Woodcock Muñoz Revisada, Itasca: Riverside Publishing.

Ziegler, J. y Goswami, U. (2005). Reading acquisition, developmental dyslexia, and skilled reading across languages: A psycholinguistic grain size theory. Psychological Bulletin, 131(1), 3-29. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.131.1.3.

Ziegler, J. C., Bertrand, D., Tóth, D., Csépe, V., Reis, A., Faísca, L. et al. (2010). Orthographic depth and its impact on universal predictors of reading: A cross-language investigation. Psychological Science, 21(4), 551–559. doi: 10.1177/0956797610363406.

How to Cite
Calet, N., Flores, M., Jiménez-Fernández, G., & Defior, S. (2015). Phonological suprasegmental skills and reading development in primary school children. Anales De Psicología / Annals of Psychology, 32(1), 72-79.
Developmental and Educational Psychology