Linguistic Rhythm and Literacy

June 2010

Confidence and skill in reading and spelling are crucial to success in today’s literacy-dependent society. One of the most critical research findings to impact contemporary classroom pedagogy is the relationship between phonological awareness—the ability to reflect upon and manipulate the sounds of one’s language—and reading and spelling acquisition.

While this finding and the inclusion of phonological awareness in early reading programs have had a significant and positive impact, we have yet to discover the prerequisites for successful development of phonological awareness, or to identify the factors responsible for individual differences in reading that cannot be attributed to phonological awareness.

Converging evidence is emerging from a cluster of interdisciplinary and international research groups that sensitivity to linguistic rhythm may be an important factor to consider, both through its role in the early development of sound sensitivity as well as its top-down role in facilitating the processing of comprehensible “chunks” of text. Through this seminar, we aim to synthesize the findings of empirical work to date and chart a systematic, collaborative program of future research.

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