Oral vocabulary and word reading: the role of mispronunciation correction
Mispronunciation correction is a process that children undertake when they are unable to access the correct pronunciation of an unfamiliar word via initially decoding using their knowledge of grapheme to phoneme correspondences, leading to children flexibly applying their pronunciation of constituent sounds alongside semantic and contextual support to activate the appropriate phonological form. However, relatively little is known about the function that mispronunciation correction serves in correctly reading new words. This thesis focuses on discovering more about the mispronunciation correction process both as children read new words, and when they hear known words being mispronounced.
Chapter Two explores the relationship between mispronunciation correction and its underlying phonological, orthographic, and semantic processes in explaining reading accuracy for regular and irregular words. It also explores the variables with which mispronunciation correction shares the most variance. We found that regular word reading is a mainly phonological task, but that irregular word reading involves a small semantic component.
Chapter Three examines the mispronunciation correction process dynamically via an eye tracking methodology. We found that orally familiar irregular words underwent longer processing, indicating that children might need longer to resolve the orthographic-phonological mismatch for these words. Word recall predicted reading accuracy for irregular words, suggesting that item specific vocabulary knowledge is important in the mispronunciation correction process.
Chapter Four extends on these findings as children read orally familiar orthographically novel words aloud while their eye movements were monitored. We found that children spent longer processing irregular words when they performed oral mispronunciation corrections. However, fixations were longer for irregular words regardless of whether they corrected the pronunciation or not, suggesting that even when they unable to resolve the phonological discrepancy, eye movements captured children’s uncertainty.
This thesis concludes by discussing the outcomes of each chapter within the framework of the most developed theoretical models of mispronunciation correction. I explore my results within the context of the phonological attractor model. I then look at theorised relationships between mispronunciation correction and oral vocabulary in relation to my findings. I also look at the role of mispronunciation correction for children with more reading experience. I look at how my results with novel word reading and with sight word reading fit within this framework. Lastly, I identify open questions within the mispronunciation correction literature.