The Hebrew Children

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Furthermore, similar to earlier work by Stahl and Murray that examined English-speaking kindergarten children, consonant deletion and synthesis were found to be easier than phoneme segmentation. The results of the current study appear to be associated with unique characteristics of the Hebrew orthography.

This results are consistent with a group of studies demonstrating that PA develops as a function of the characteristics of the specific spoken language i. To summarize, with regard to the first and second research questions and consistent with studies on English speakers, the current study demonstrated a rapid growth of PA skills among Hebrew-speaking children from the middle to the end of kindergarten. In addition, consistent with studies on English speakers, Hebrew-speaking children were significantly better at manipulations at the syllable level, as compared to phonemes or consonants.

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However, deletion of a final consonant was found to be easier for Hebrew-speaking children than deletion of an initial consonant. This finding emphasizes the body-coda segmentation tendency, which characterizes the Hebrew language structure and appears to be a language—specific feature. Phonological awareness has been shown to have a reciprocal relationship with various measures, such as early literacy skills, and language and cognitive skills e. To explore and extend these findings with respect to the Hebrew language, the current study examined the relationships between PA and early literacy, language, and cognitive measures at the middle and end of kindergarten among Hebrew-speaking children, and attempted to determine whether these measures predict PA at the two time points.

This is in line with previous reports of a relationship between letter naming and PA among preliterate children in an English-speaking sample Castles et al. In Hebrew, all letter names begin with the represented phoneme e. In the current study, the significance of letter naming was supported by a regression analysis as well.

This highlights the significance of this literacy skill in PA development in Hebrew, and emphasizes the importance of learning letter names during kindergarten. According to the current results, executive functioning should also be taken into account within the context of PA development. This is consistent with findings from previous studies showing predictive relationships between EF and PA among English-speaking preliterate children Bierman et al.

In explaining this relationship, the authors of the latter study posited that substantial development in EF at this time of life helps facilitate pre-academic skills, and that similar abilities are involved in both EF and PA processes such as understanding of conventions and rules, and the ability to use them in different situations.

Thus, further studies should examine this variable and its relationship with PA during kindergarten. Although naming speed was found in earlier studies to be positively correlated with PA e. Rather, the current results support the proposition that naming speed and PA are separate factors Bowers and Wolf, ; Manis et al. In the current study, vocabulary had the highest success rates of all the tasks administered. This might explain the lack of correlations between vocabulary and PA, as the former was characterized by low variability and the latter revealed great variability between participants.

This finding, which is incompatible with those of prior studies Metsala and Walley, ; Metsala, ; Ouellette and Haley, ; Hipfner-Boucher et al. However, vocabulary production tasks yielding greater variance between children may lead to different results. In addition, it is possible that broader oral language skills, will demonstrate stronger relationships with PA. With respect to working memory, in accordance with other studies Alloway et al. However, we found no such relationship. It may be that the PA tasks employed did not require substantial working memory abilities, and that the inclusion of more complex manipulations involving a greater number of sound units would be required to reveal the relationship.

To summarize, the current study examined PA skills from a developmental perspective. In accordance with previous studies in various languages Burgess and Lonigan, ; Lerner and Lonigan, , we found significant relationships between letter identification skills and PA at the middle and end of kindergarten.


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The results also demonstrated the important relationship between PA and EF in kindergarten, adding to the growing body of work addressing this connection. Several limitations of this study are worthy of mention.


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First, as a preliminary study, it was conducted on a small sample. Further research with larger sample sizes will likely enable extended conclusions and increased validity. Also, additional cognitive abilities, that may be related to PA were not included in the scope of this study, and should be examined in future work. Another limitation was the use of the same PA battery to test the participants at both time points. Future studies should use equivalent tasks for repeated testing. Phonological awareness is a dynamic ability that varies significantly and develops in a short period of time during kindergarten.

As the foundation of reading and writing development, it must be followed at this critical age, highlighting the need for studies that go beyond literacy skills and examine its relationship with a range of cognitive, language, and EF skills.

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The current findings also have important implications for intervention, as they provide information regarding the skills that should be strengthened in order to reinforce PA development in kindergarten. More generally, the study supports the idea that literacy practices, and preschool and kindergarten instruction and intervention, should take into account the importance of exposing children to letter knowledge that fosters PA. The current study emphasizes the need for longitudinal research in the Hebrew language, to expand theoretical and practical knowledge of PA development in relation to cognitive, early literacy, and language skills, and in other languages, to learn more about processes that are universal and those that are unique to specific orthographies.

In addition, it is important to continue examining the development of PA at early ages with relation to environmental factors Reese et al. All subjects gave written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The protocol was approved by the Ethical Committee of the Faculty of Education.

DW contributed to the data collection and statistical analysis as well as to writing the first draft and the development of the PA assessment tool. Both authors conceptualized this study, contributed to the writing and interpretation of the data, and agreed to be accountable for the content of the work. The Bernovsky Foundation provided the financial scholarship to partially support this study.

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. We thank Professor David Share and Dr. Shelley Shaul for their insightful comments in the preparation of this manuscript.

Alloway, T. A structural analysis of working memory and related cognitive skills in young children. Child Psychol. Anthony, J.

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Development of phonological awareness. Google Scholar. Aouad, J. The component structure of preliteracy skills further evidence for the simple view of reading.

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Aram, D. Mother-child joint writing in low SES: sociocultural factors, maternal mediation, and emergent literacy. Baddeley, A. Working Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory?

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Trends Cogn. Bandini, H. Levels of phonological awareness, working memory, and lexical knowledge in elementary school children. Ben-Dror, I. Orthographic representation and phonemic segmentation in skilled readers: a cross-language comparison.

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Bentin, S. Syntactic competence and reading ability in children. The effects of aging and first grade schooling on the development of phonological awareness. Bierman, K. Executive functions and school readiness intervention: impact, moderation, and mediation in the Head Start REDI program.


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