Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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Children's development of metalinguistic awareness has typically been portrayed as a product of more general development processes, or else as a natural consequence of speaking a language. In contrast, we suggest that, at least for certain properties of speech, literacy plays an essential role in the development of metalinguistic awareness by providing a model of the linguistic categories which are used to reflect on spoken language. This hypothesis was tested in two studies that examined the development of children's understanding of the concept of WORD. The first study investigated young children's understanding of the representational nature of writing. It was found that, even before they are functionally literate, children understand that writing represents the spoken word. The second study investigated the relationship of this early understanding of literacy to children's metalinguistic concept of word. It was found that children's understanding of word as a unit of speech was predicted by their awareness of word as a piece of written text. The results are discussed in relation to the MODEL hypothesis of literacy (Olson 1994), and are related to previous findings on children's metalinguistic understanding.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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