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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


ROLDAN, Luis Ángel; FORMOSO, Jesica; ZABALETA, Verónica  y  BARREYRO, Juan Pablo. Relations between prosody and reading comprehension in Spanish-speaking students: systematic review and meta-analysis. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2022, vol.39, n.3, pp.121-135.  Epub 19-Jul-2022. ISSN 1668-7027.

Fluency has been considered one of the relevant factors involved in reading comprehension, by providing a bridge between decoding and comprehension. At present, fluency includes, alongside rate and accuracy, prosody as one the parts which plays a preponderant role in the construction of meaning during the reading process. Prosodic reading is the use of oral language features when reading a text, such as pausing, stress and intonation, in order that the text will be read aloud with the tonal and rhythmic characteristics of speech. Furthermore, prosodic reading makes it possible to organize word sequences into syntactically cohesive units of meaning. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis, firstly, in order to determine the situation of research articles which enquire into the relation between prosody and reading comprehension, and secondly, to measure the significance of that relation in students who are native speakers of Spanish. To that end, a bibliographic search was performed without time restrictions in the following databases: Dialnet, Redalyc, SciELO, ERIC, Scopus and PubMed. The systematic review included 18 studies. The qualitative synthesis showed four categories of articles: (1) validation studies of instruments to assess reading fluency; (2) intervention studies on different prosodic aspects and enquiries into their impact on reading comprehension; (3) comparisons of good and poor comprehenders; and (4) correlational studies. A multilevel meta-analysis was performed in the correlational studies (n = 12), examining 59 correlation coefficients. The analysis showed a significant association between reading comprehension and prosody (t(58) = 9.77, p < .001) with a moderate effect of .46 (z = .49 [95 % CI = .39, .59]). Once outlier values had been removed, no variation was found in the size of the estimated effect (r = .46). Two additional models were adjusted, including as moderating variables, respectively, the type of assessment performed on comprehension (sentence or text level) and the educational level (primary or secondary). The results obtained from these models suggest the association between comprehension and prosody is neither moderated by the type of assessment carried out (F(1, 57) = 1.51, ρ = .22), nor by the educational level (F(1, 57) = 0.10, ρ = .75). In summary, the meta-analysis showed a moderate relation between prosody and reading comprehension. These relations continued beyond the level at which the latter variable (sentence or text) was examined, and throughout the school trajectory. In other words, and in contrast to other aspects of fluency, such as accuracy and rate, prosody seems to maintain its contribution to comprehension. In sum, the findings support the claim that suprasegmental skills, both at lexical level (i. e. the skills related to the identification, stress and manipulation of stressed syllables in words) and at metrical level (the capabilities responsible for processing intonation, rhythm and pausing when reading), contribute to the semantic processing of sentences and texts in Spanish, regardless of the educational level under analysis. These results should be moderated given the limited number of studies found and the smaller amount of research carried out at secondary school level. In spite of these limitations, the relationships observed among the variables studied support the importance of prosodic reading to psychoeducational diagnosis and intervention in reading comprehension, and they provide significant background for future research.

Palabras clave : prosody; reading fluency; reading comprehension; Spanish.

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