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Peter Bryant on Reading Acquisition - Dictionary of Arguments

Slater I 132
Reading Acquisition/Bradley/Bryant: Bradley and Bryant (1983)(1) provided evidence for a causal link between categorizing words on the basis of their constituent sounds and learning to read and to spell. This demonstration led to intensive investigation of the role of “phonological awareness” (the ability to detect and manipulate the component sounds in words) in literacy development across languages, and to the “phonological deficit” theory of developmental dyslexia. >Reading acquisition/Stanovich, >Reading acquisition/Frith.
Slater I 133
Bradley and Bryant (1978)(2) established, that children with reading difficulties were much poorer in deciding whether words rhymed with each other or whether words began with the same sound. >Causality/Bradley/Bryant. The impact of Bradley and Bryant’s work has been immense. >Reading acquisition Stanovich, >Reading acquisition/Frith.
Slater I 134
Bradley and Bryant (1983) reported high and significant time-lagged correlations between initial sound categorization scores and children’s later reading and spelling performance.
Slater I 139
VsBryant/VsBradley: Even for very consistent orthographies like German, focusing simply on training letter-sound relations does not bring the same benefits as an oral language training that is combined with letters (e.g., Schneider et al., 1997)(3). Another criticism has been that the oddity task is not an ideal measure of phonological awareness. Worries have been expressed about the load it may place on phonological memory (Snowling, Hulme, Smith & Thomas, 1994)(4), about its validity and reliability as a psychometric measure (Macmillan, 2002)(5), and about whether it is really a measure of rhyme and alliteration awareness or a measure of phoneme awareness (in the rhyme versions of the task, the odd word out is only one phoneme different).
In fact, Snowling et al. (1994)(4) found that sound categorization abilities did not depend on memory.


1. Bradley, L., & Bryant, P. E. (1983). Categorising sounds and learning to read: A causal connection. Nature, 310, 419–421.
2. Bradley, L., & Bryant, P. E. (1978). Difficulties in auditory organization as a possible cause of reading backwardness. Nature, 271, 746–747.
3. Schneider, W., Kuespert, P., Roth, E., Vise, M., & Marx, H. (1997). Short- and long-term effects of training phonological awareness in kindergarten: Evidence from two German studies. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 66, 311–340.
4. Snowling, M. J., Hulme, C., Smith, A., & Thomas, J. (1994). The effects of phonetic similarity and list length on children’s sound categorization performance. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 58, 160–180.
5. Macmillan, B. M. (2002). Rhyme and reading: A critical review of the research methodology. Journal of Research in Reading, 25, 4–42.


Usha Goswami, „Reading and Spelling.Revisiting Bradley and Bryant’s Study“ in: Alan M. Slater & Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Bryant, Peter
Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012


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