The impact of dialectal awareness on a phoneme based early literacy intervention.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This research investigated the hypothesis that including a Dialectal Awareness component to Phonemic Awareness based early literacy intervention would improve acquisition for struggling readers and writers. The research involved a total of 106 participants, in three separate studies over a two-year period. All three studies involved providing literacy interventions, where achievement data was gathered before, midway and following the interventions. The first two studies involved standardised testing measures, while the third study included tests specifically designed by the researcher to measure targeted areas of Dialect Differences and density as determined through the first two studies. Study One was a Pilot Study involving two female participants of approximately seven years of age, to ascertain dialectal characteristics and possible intervention strategies for the main study, Study Two. Study Two, comprising four treatment groups, included a control intervention in which matched students were provided with typical teaching methods used in the classrooms of the schools where the studies were conducted. The other three groups received either a Dialectal Awareness programme only, a Phonemic Awareness programme only, or a combination of the two programmes. Study Three replicated Study Two, with two treatment groups that were Phonemically, age, gender and ethnically matched, to confirm the reliability of the results from Study Two. The groups received either the Phonemic Awareness programme or the combination of the Phonemic Awareness and Dialectal Awareness programme. All three studies produced positive results with regard to improvements in the participants’ literacy levels compared to normal classroom teaching. However, comparisons with the Phonemic Awareness training intervention were mixed. Overall, participants who received focused Dialectal Awareness strategies as part of their interventions showed similar improvements in reading of connected text, spelling, Phonemic Awareness, Writing and the ability to ‘code-switch’ in oral contexts, to those who had received the Phoneme based programme only. Implications of these findings were considered, with regard to challenges to theories pertaining to the importance of phonemic awareness training and relevance to current teaching practice in New Zealand, with regard to New Zealand Māori and Pasifika children.