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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The development of language and literacy skills is associated with a complex interaction between the learner’s age and language experience. A large body of evidence unequivocally demonstrates that early language experience is essential for normal language acquisition and that language experience shapes the child’s developing brain during several critical periods. One component of language that is essential for the development of literacy skills is phonological knowledge. This knowledge serves as the basis for decoding written text in both hearing and deaf learners. Some reasons why phonological knowledge is necessary for reading development are discussed, along with the importance of providing deaf learners with access to phonological information. Specific implications for auditory/oral, visual/kinesthetic, and bilingual-bicultural methods are addressed, as are bridging strategies between English and American Sign Language.

Keywords: phonological knowledge, critical periods, language experience, linguistic input, language acquisition, auditory perception, speech recognition, reading

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