Acoustic Features of Oral Reading Prosody and the Relation With Reading Fluency and Reading Comprehension in Taiwanese Children


Purpose: The study aimed to examine whether oral reading prosody—the use of acoustic features (e.g., pitch and duration variations) when reading passages aloud—predicts reading fluency and comprehension abilities. Method: We measured vocabulary, syntax, word reading, reading fluency (including rate and accuracy), reading comprehension (in Grades 3 and 4), and oral reading prosody in Taiwanese third-grade children (N = 109). In the oral reading prosody task, children were asked to read aloud a passage designed for third graders and then to answer forced-choice questions. Their oral reading prosody was measured through acoustic analyses including the number of pause intrusions, intersentential pause duration, phrase-final comma pause duration, child–adult pitch match, and sentence-final pitch change. Results: Analyses of variance revealed that children’s number of pause intrusions differed as a function of word reading. After controlling for age, vocabulary and syntactic knowledge, and word reading, we found that different dimensions of oral reading prosody contributed to reading rate. In contrast, the number of pause intrusions, phrase-final comma pause duration, and child–adult pitch match predicted reading accuracy and comprehension. Conclusions: Oral reading prosody plays an important role in children’s reading fluency and reading comprehension in tone languages like Mandarin. Specifi-cally, children need to read texts prosodically as evidenced by fewer pause in-trusions, shorter phrase-final comma pause duration, and closer child–adult pitch match, which are early predictive makers of reading fluency and comprehension.

Publication Title

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research