Phonological Processing Deficiency and Reading Development

Phonological awareness is the possibility of understanding and controlling the spoken parts of sentences and phrases. Examples include recognizing rhyme, segmenting a sentence into specific words, alliteration, identifying syllables in a phrase, and segmenting and blending onset rimes (Blachman, 2000). Substituting various sounds for the first sound of a song that has been heard by many can assist children in developing awareness of phonology, a psychological basis for the reading process. Learning to be phonologically conscious prepares children for the reading process involving phonies and word discernment (Blachman, 2000). The failure to process phonologies in a word is the most common obstacle to getting reading skills (Castles & Coltheart, 2004). Furthermore, advances in study and comprehension have shown that this phonological processing deficiency often impedes early reading growth in both students with and without disabilities (Castles & Coltheart, 2004).

Reading progress is divided into reading to learn and to learn to read. Getting to know the sounds of languages spoken, knowing the alphabetic theory, interpreting sentences, and being fluent is all part of learning to read (Goodman, 1997). The creation of phonological knowledge is needed for the route to learning how to read. Phonological awareness is a predictor of reading performance in typically developing children. Deaf children do take a slightly different path in the reading development process than typically developing children as there is the involvement of hearing aids, and even some sounds are non-existent. This essay is going to analyze the reading development process in both typically developing children and deaf children and to what extent phonological awareness is important to the success of this process in both cases.

How do children typically learn to read?

According to the theoretical framework of reading in a simple view, learning to read comprises listening and comprehending the information (Gough & Tunmer, 1986). Studies show that the processing component of the reading process is dependent on controlling the learning of common languages that people speak. In contrast, the process of decoding is dependent on clear teaching, evidence showing that infants can induce the cipher from some exposure to written words and pronunciation. Evidence has been provided indicating that good readers need a clear knowledge of spoken word phonological structure that should be taught in kindergarten before getting instructions on the formal reading. From this point onwards, the success of the reading process depends on a smidgeon of some instructions in phonics along with intensive practice with basic reading. There are some basic stages in which a child learns how to read, which involve the following factors:

Phonemic Awareness

The process of learning begins with this stage. Individual sounds that make up a speech are known as phonemic perception. Since it is such an important aspect of reading readiness, it is often the subject of early learning initiatives (Rayner & Reichle, 2010).

Learning the Alphabets

Studies show that writing is not the same as speech; phonemic knowledge alone will not enable children to learn to read. These children should be able to understand letters written to reflect the sounds that make a language. This is not just about learning about alphabets. Alphabets are a necessary step in reading preparation, but the children must be able to create sentences and bring forth meaning in order to read (Rayner & Reichle, 2010). They must also be able to recognize which letters correspond to which sounds in the language (phonemes).

Blending Knowledge of Sounds and Words

In addition, children should have the ability to connect these sounds since letters are the building blocks of a word; this is more complicated than it seems. It is not yet known how children make the links between sounds and written words because it is difficult. If they are able to do it, however, we refer to them as having “broken the code.” (Rayner & Reichle, 2010).

These are the factors in the stages of learning to read in children:

Phase 1: Pre-Alphabetic. At this age, children will memorize written words by associating some letters with how they perceive the sound spoken word. That is, they can identify word barriers in print, as well as the beginning and ending letters and sounds of a word (Castles & Coltheart, 2004).

Phase 2: Partial Alphabetic Phase. At this age, children will memorize written words by associating some of the letters with how spoken words sound. That is, they can identify written words, as well as how sounds are pronounced from beginning to end (Goswami & Bryant, 2016). In this phase, typically developing children will decipher some words and try creating words that, in some cases, may not make any sense.

Phase 3: Full Alphabetic. At this point, these infants have all of the letters’ sounds in their memory and can discern some words by creating a phonological flow and how the words are formed by the sounds produced by sounds creating the letters.

Phase 4: Consolidated Alphabetic Phase. Children are able to discern that the whole collection or group of sounds is a word rather than analyzing each letter in the pattern that creates the word. This is known as “chunking,” and it allows children to pronounce the words effectively because they already know how to connect these sounds and each letter individually. A good example is a discernment between words like “hike” and “bike.” Children eventually learn to recognize other types of “chunks” in written words, making reading easier. They start to understand morphemes instead of single letters (Goswami & Bryant, 2016). When children can understand a sufficient number of words quickly, they become ready to progress in the process of reading, from creating words to creating paragraphs. In that period, they will begin to concentrate on understanding the content they see and read. This last stage of the process of learning reading phonology completes the process of learning to read at age 9 -10 in most typically developing children (Rayner & Reichle, 2010).

How phonological awareness in a hearing child does compares to a deaf child in the reading development process?

Studies show that people who were either born deaf or lost their hearing in early childhood experience great distress in the process of learning to read. While many factors are at play, one major source of distress to these readers in this condition is a lack of phonological awareness. Normal hearing children usually learn to read alphabetical letters by repetition, a relationship that is between the known spoken vocabulary to them and unknown written words. In this period, they also learn to read foreign words by converting sounds from letters. Studies show that typically normal developing children who learn to associate letters to make words and their accompanying phonemes make more progress in learning than the deaf (Barlow–Brown & Connelly, 2002). Translating letters to sounds helps the child read for longer periods of time, which develops better abilities in being a proficient reader. This strategy happens to be difficult for the profoundly deaf child to follow. The main reason is that for the vast population of children born deaf phonological awareness is low compared to that of a typically developing child, and thus there is no adequate foundation for developing a phonologically-based reading path (Rayner & Reichle, 2010).

However, before fully embracing this study, some authors and researchers have some theories that some children born deaf with time can develop a code of phonological listing through the reading of lips. Through a consistent pattern that they learn over time, adolescents form an inner speech with phonological characteristics (Kyle & Harris, 2006). Studies have also shown that profoundly deaf children around the age of 9 may make spelling mistakes; this clearly indicates confusion during lip-reading and trying to connect a phonologically correct word (Beech & Harris, 1997).


With this sufficient evidence, it is seen that phonological awareness is, in its right, truly important in a successful reading development both with the typically developing children and with the deaf. It is impossible to pinpoint the exact existence of the deaf child’s depictions of phonological awareness. Obviously, the child’s signing or oral history will be significant, as will factors such as common hearing and skills and levels of communication (McBride–Chang & Kail, 2002). Thus, representations could be displayed by a word’s symbol, a deficient phonological representation, another representation, or a combination of these. Lip reading being the main source of phonological awareness, the representation may be skewed against labial phonemes; it can also be influenced by the degree of difficulty in hearing and the process of reading. Hearing children, on the other hand, have a step-by-step development in reading primarily aided by phonological awareness.


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Beech, J. R., & Harris, M. (1997). The prelingually deaf young reader: A case of reliance on direct lexical access?. Journal of Research in Reading, 20(2), 105-121.

Blachman, B. A. (2000). Phonological awareness. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research, Vol. 3 (pp. 483–502). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Castles, A., & Coltheart, M. (2004). Is there a causal link from phonological awareness to success in learning to read?. Cognition, 91(1), 77-111.

Goswami, U., & Bryant, P. (2016). Phonological skills and learning to read. Psychology Press.

Gough, P. B. (1996). How children learn to read and why they fail. Annals of Dyslexia, 46(1), 1–20

Kyle, F. E., & Harris, M. (2006). Concurrent correlates and reading and spelling achievement in deaf and hearing school children. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 11(3), 273-288.

McBride–Chang, C., & Kail, R. V. (2002). Cross–cultural similarities in the predictors of reading acquisition. Child Development, 73(5), 1392-1407.

Rayner, K., & Reichle, E. D. (2010). Models of the reading process. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 1(6), 787-799.

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