Learning new words affects nonword pronunciation in children

Maya M. Khanna, Michael J. Cortese, Katharine S. Birchwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In two experiments we examined how children's nonword pronunciations are influenced by learning words. In Experiment 1, children pronounced nonwords before and after learning words sharing orthographic rimes with the nonwords. These rimes varied in spelling-to-sound consistency and regularity. Children's nonword pronunciations were more sensitive to consistency and regularity after instruction than before. Experiment 2 expanded upon Experiment 1 by modifying the instruction to highlight regularity and consistency in rime unit neighborhoods and by including both younger (M age = 7.6) and older (M age = 9.92) participants. After instruction, Experiment 2 participants demonstrated greater sensitivity to rime unit consistency and regularity than Experiment 1 participants. In both experiments, the children, especially the younger participants, made more adultlike pronunciations after instruction than before. We conclude that learning words varying in consistency and regularity increased the children's sensitivity to these properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-439
Number of pages33
JournalScientific Studies of Reading
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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