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There is good evidence that phoneme awareness and letter-sound knowledge are reliable longitudinal predictors of learning to read, though whether they have a causal effect remains uncertain. In this article, we present the results of a mediation analysis using data from a previous large-scale intervention study. We found that a phonology and reading intervention that taught letter-sound knowledge and phoneme awareness produced significant improvements in these two skills and in later word-level reading and spelling skills. Improvements in letter-sound knowledge and phoneme awareness at the end of the intervention fully mediated the improvements seen in children's word-level literacy skills 5 months after the intervention finished. Our findings support the conclusion that letter-sound knowledge and phoneme awareness are two causal influences on the development of children's early literacy skills.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Sci

Publication Date





572 - 577


Awareness, Child, Preschool, Educational Status, Humans, Learning, Models, Psychological, Phonetics, Psycholinguistics, Reading