The Influence of Phonemic Awareness Development on Acoustic Cue Weighting Strategies in Children's Speech Perception In speech perception, children give particular patterns of weight to different acoustic cues (their cue weighting). These patterns appear to change with increased linguistic experience. Previous speech perception research has found a positive correlation between more analytical cue weighting strategies and the ability to consciously think about and manipulate segment-sized ... Research Article
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Research Article  |   October 01, 2003
The Influence of Phonemic Awareness Development on Acoustic Cue Weighting Strategies in Children's Speech Perception
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Catherine Mayo
    Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • James M. Scobbie
    Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Nigel Hewlett
    Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Daphne Waters
    Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Contact author: Catherine Mayo, PhD, Theoretical & Applied Linguistics, University of Edinburgh, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LL, United Kingdom. E-mail: catherin@ling.ed.ac.uk
  • Catherine Mayo is now at the University of Edinburgh.
    Catherine Mayo is now at the University of Edinburgh.×
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2003
The Influence of Phonemic Awareness Development on Acoustic Cue Weighting Strategies in Children's Speech Perception
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2003, Vol. 46, 1184-1196. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/092)
History: Received March 18, 2002 , Accepted March 28, 2003
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2003, Vol. 46, 1184-1196. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/092)
History: Received March 18, 2002; Accepted March 28, 2003
Web of Science® Times Cited: 45

In speech perception, children give particular patterns of weight to different acoustic cues (their cue weighting). These patterns appear to change with increased linguistic experience. Previous speech perception research has found a positive correlation between more analytical cue weighting strategies and the ability to consciously think about and manipulate segment-sized units (phonemic awareness). That research did not, however, aim to address whether the relation is in any way causal or, if so, then in which direction possible causality might move. Causality in this relation could move in 1 of 2 ways: Either phonemic awareness development could impact on cue weighting strategies or changes in cue weighting could allow for the later development of phonemic awareness. The aim of this study was to follow the development of these 2 processes longitudinally to determine which of the above 2 possibilities was more likely. Five-year-old children were tested 3 times in 7 months on their cue weighting strategies for a /so/-/∫o/ contrast, in which the 2 cues manipulated were the frequency of fricative spectrum and the frequency of vowel-onset formant transitions. The children were also tested at the same time on their phoneme segmentation and phoneme blending skills. Results showed that phonemic awareness skills tended to improve before cue weighting changed and that early phonemic awareness ability predicted later cue weighting strategies. These results suggest that the development of metaphonemic awareness may play some role in changes in cue weighting.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by a doctoral studentship to the first author from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh. We would like to thank the head teachers, classroom teachers, parents, and children who participated in this study for their enthusiasm and interest in the research. We also thank Alice Turk for her useful comments on earlier versions of this article.
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