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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


MARDER, Sandra Esther. Result of an early literacy intervention program: Reading skills in children with socio-economic disadvantages. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2011, vol.28, n.1, pp. 159-176. ISSN 1668-7027.

The purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of the process of early literacy in Spanish in children with cultural and socio-economic disadvantages. Likewise, it aims at showing the results of a study about reading skills - specifically the reading of words and texts by 4 to 7 year-old children. The study was conducted following research models of Cognitive Psychology and was carried out by comparing the performance of two groups of children, the test group and the control group. These children attended public schools in the Province of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and they were treated as equivalents in all of the analyzed variables. One of the groups received specific early literacy intervention for two years. The assessments were made before, during and midway after finishing the intervention. The reading of words and pseudo words as well as reading and reading comprehension were evaluated. Gough and Juel (1989) propose a simple reading model that states that reading comprehension is the result of the multiplication of decoding and oral language comprehension [RC (reading comprehension) = D*LC (decoding multiplied by language comprehension)]. The multiplying nature of this relationship means that both factors, D and LC, are necessary for comprehension purposes but none of them are sufficient by themselves (Gough, Juel, & Griffith, 1992; Hoover & Gough, 1990). By analyzing the correlation between RC and each of the two factors, it is clearly shown that decoding is the most important step at the beginning of the learning process [r (RC*D) = .61 and r (RC*LC) =.39] and that the values are later reversed at the beginning of secondary school [r (RC*LC) = .68 and r (RC*D) = .39] (Alegría, 2006). Therefore, the differences in the reading comprehension process during the first years of schooling could be due to differences in fluency in reading. At the same time, the automatic word recognition theory (La Berge & Samuels, 1974) provides a strong explanation about the importance of fluency in reading. If the word recognition process is not fluent enough, a lot of energy is placed on paying attention, causing comprehension to be impaired. Taking the above information into account, one of the objectives of the implemented early intervention program has been to promote automatic decoding so that a minimum of other attention resources would be needed. In order to achieve this, it was necessary to develop phonological skills, knowledege of grapheme - phoneme correspondence, as well as the fast ensemble of phonemes. From the data gathered descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations, and achievement percentages) and inferential statistics (t test and percentage difference tests) were obtained. Likewise, a qualitative analysis of the types of mistakes made and the strategies used for word reading (pre-analytical, initial incomplete analytical and intermediate, and consolidated literacy) as well as the different categories in oral text reading (syllabification reading with and without recoding, fluent and expressive) was made. The results of the study show significant improvement in the reading of long words and pseudo words with a 33 % difference between the two groups, in favor of the experimental group, at the end of the intervention. The children from this group use a greater percentage of analytical strategies, which helps them read new words. Regarding text reading, there is a 27% difference among the children who can read a short text fluently in the test group and the ones who cannot do it in the control group. This finding has helped established a good foundation for adequate improvement in reading comprehension skills and shows the high impact the intervention has had on these children.

Palabras clave : Early literacy; Spanish; Children with socio - economic disadvantages; Word and text reading; Analytical strategies.

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