The main purpose of this study is to explore what orthographic unit is optimal to teach to read and write in Brazilian Portuguese at the outset of learning: small-units (graphemes-phonemes - GP) or larger-units (syllables). According to Ehri's phase theory children utilize small-units at the outset and larger-units when they acquire more reading experience. However, there are several controversial claims that lead us to ask whether Brazilian Portuguese speakers would show the same developmental pattern, considering that in Portuguese syllables are more salient and available units than in English. The present study will be conducted with preschoolers to determine whether teaching them to read CV (consonant-vowel) syllables by sounding out the GP or the whole syllable would teach them GP orthographic mapping and facilitate learning to read and write words. 60 kindergarteners that know letters but cannot read and spell will be selected and randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions. In the first, children will be taught to read 40 CV syllables by sounding out and blending the GP. In the second, children will be taught to read the same syllables, but sounding out the whole units. The third is a control condition where children will be taught only the relationships between letters and sounds. In the posttest children will complete a word-learning task in which they are taught to read words made up of taught and untaught syllables. Statistical procedures will be used to assess treatments effects and compare the performance of the groups to determine what is the optimal orthographic to teach to read and write in Brazilian Portuguese at the outset of learning.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: