The effects of a phonological awareness intervention on the oral English proficiency and English vocabulary of Spanish-speaking kindergarten children

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Special Education

First Committee Member

James D. McKinney, Committee Chair


This study examined whether participation in a phonological awareness intervention promoted oral English proficiency and English vocabulary development more than a story reading condition for Spanish-speaking kindergarten children, who were primarily limited English proficient. This study was part of a larger study which examined, in part, the effects of phonological awareness instruction on the early reading success of at-risk Hispanic kindergarten children (McKinney, Schumm, & Hocutt, 1998; see Appendix A). Measures of oral English proficiency, receptive vocabulary, and phonological awareness were administered as pre- and post-tests to 80 Hispanic kindergarten children (40 in each treatment group). Additional measures of phonological abilities were administered as pre-tests.An analysis of covariance, with the pre-test as the covariate, revealed that the phonological awareness group showed greater change on the English proficiency measure than the story reading group. The same analysis on the vocabulary measure indicated no significant differences in change. Multiple regression analyses indicated that the strongest predictor of change in oral English proficiency was change in phonological awareness. Change in blending, segmenting, and elision predicted 16% of the variance for the whole sample and 11% for the phonological awareness group. In the whole sample, blending alone predicted 12%, segmenting 11%, and elision 8% of the variance in English proficiency. In the phonological awareness group, blending predicted 9% and segmenting predicted 8% of the variance. The regression model for the phonological awareness group, although not statistically significant, replicated results with the whole sample.Results indicated that phonological awareness instruction improves oral English proficiency for Spanish-speaking kindergarten children more than story reading. Change in oral English proficiency can best be accounted for by change in phonological awareness. A balanced reading program for limited English proficient Spanish-speaking kindergarten children, which includes story reading, should also include phonological awareness instruction to reap the added benefit of greater change in oral English proficiency.


Education, Language and Literature; Education, Bilingual and Multicultural; Education, Elementary

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