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The role of speech prosody and text reading prosody in children's reading comprehension

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>British Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
Volume84
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)521-536
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date2/05/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Background
Text reading prosody has been associated with reading comprehension. However, text reading prosody is a reading‐dependent measure that relies heavily on decoding skills. Investigation of the contribution of speech prosody – which is independent from reading skills – in addition to text reading prosody, to reading comprehension could provide more insight into the general role of prosody in reading comprehension.

Aims
The current study investigates how much variance in reading comprehension scores is explained by speech prosody and text reading prosody, after controlling for decoding, vocabulary, and syntactic awareness.

Sample
A battery of reading and language assessments was performed by 106 Dutch fourth‐grade primary school children.

Methods
Speech prosody was assessed using a storytelling task and text reading prosody by oral text reading performance. Decoding skills, vocabulary, syntactic awareness, and reading comprehension were assessed using standardized tests.

Results
Hierarchical regression analyses showed that text reading prosody explained 6% of variance and that speech prosody explained 8% of variance in reading comprehension scores, after controlling for decoding, vocabulary, and syntactic awareness. Phrasing was the significant factor in both speech and text reading. When added in consecutive order, phrasing in speech added 5% variance to phrasing in reading. In contrast, phrasing in reading added only 3% variance to phrasing in speech.

Conclusions
The variance that speech prosody explained in reading comprehension scores should not be neglected. Speech prosody seems to facilitate the construction of meaning in written language.