Title

Mandarin-speaking preschoolers’ pitch discrimination, prosodic and phonological awareness, and their relation to receptive vocabulary and reading abilities

Abstract

Cross-linguistic studies have reported that prosodic pattern awareness (e.g., lexical stress and lexical tone) is more important to reading acquisition than phonological awareness. However, few longitudinal studies have been conducted to explore the relations between these variables. This study examined preschoolers’ pitch discrimination, prosodic and phonological awareness, and their connection to receptive vocabulary in preschool and reading abilities in first grade. Findings reveal (1) children improve their pitch discrimination and prosodic awareness from preschool to fourth grade; (2) pitch interval discrimination (frequency separation between tones) contributes to receptive vocabulary whereas pitch contour discrimination (patterns of rising and falling pitch) predicts word reading; (3) phonological awareness accounts for more variability in receptive vocabulary than prosodic awareness; whereas the reverse was found for word reading and reading comprehension. Together, prosody and its acoustic cue (i.e., pitch) play a vital role in learning to read Mandarin.

Publication Title

Reading and Writing

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