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Categorical perception and learning to read / Les habiletes de perception des sons de la parole d'une population d'enfants pre-lecteurs

Phonological awareness, and particularly phonemic awareness, are predictive reading factors which have been intensively studied. Very few studies have turned on the incidence of categorical perception in learning to read. Now, in an alphabetical system, written word recognition by the phonological route involves the abilities to isolate, and to discriminate the phonemes. In the present study, perceptual discrimination of speech sounds, phonological short memory, discrimination between minimal pairs, and parental sociocultural level of 300 kindergartners (mean age: 5 years 9 months) have been investigated. Results show that very few children are "categorical" (21%). Most of them (67%) are "non-categorical"; 12% show a "non-categorical-supra-chance" profile which could be a risk factor for dyslexia. Perceptual discrimination of speech sounds is significativly correlated with phonological short term memory. Finally, we observe significant differences in terms of the parental sociocultural level: the most categorical children are also those whom the mothers have the highest sociocultural level. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)