University of the Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 8844-8850
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.2184
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Literacy development entails an overall communicative competence and is, therefore, an integrated process of language as well as cognitive development and not only the ability to read and write. However, reading and writing form the basis of literacy development, whether in a first- or second language. Thus, to be able to engage in optimal learning, the individual must be able to read and write properly. Research have also highlighted the importance of emergent literacy skills development in a first language and how developing these skills in a first language may transfer to a second language - as argued by Cummins (see Cummins’s linguistic interdependence hypothesis). Focusing on emergent literacy, it involves the skills, knowledge and attitudes that develop prior to conventional forms of literacy development and reading. Thus, it seems as if early experiences in listening, talking and learning about the environment wherein one functions, provides the basis for reading and writing proficiency. One of the most important pre-requisite skills associated with emergent literacy development and later reading success, is phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and discern between different sounds in spoken speech, whether in a first- or second language. Thus, it entails the awareness of phonological structures or sound structures in words, including knowledge of - and the application of the alphabetic principle, which has been demonstrated to be imperative in first language reading success. Emanating from the above, the aim of the current research is two-fold: Firstly, it involves a theoretical discussion of the role and importance of emergent literacy in second language reading development, specifically focusing on the role of phonological awareness as a prerequisite in reading ability; and secondly, this paper will report the results of a non-experimental, correlation study, investigating the relationship between phonological awareness and reading ability (i.e. word reading, reading fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension) among South African, second language learners (N = 124). Positive and significant results were yielded between phonological awareness and each of the reading outcome variables, listed above, underscoring the importance of phonological awareness as an important predictor of second language reading development. The practical implication of these results is that phonological awareness training should be introduced into the South African curriculum as early as possible to support reading development in a second language. It is hypothesized that becoming familiar with the phonological systems of English, may in turn lead to better reading outcomes in a second language.
Phonological awareness, emergent literacy, second language reading development.