Teaching reading to disabled readers with language disorders: A controlled evaluation of synthetic speech feedback

Af Carsten Elbro, Ingelise Rasmussen & Birgitte Spelling

In a long-term study two groups of language and reading impaired students (N = 15 + 15) were reading with the aid of segmented speech-feedback in a computerized program. One group received feedback that was simultaneously segmented visually and auditorily into syllables, the other received feedback by letter names. In both groups subjects were expected to synthesize segments into words and to compare their synthesis to whole word feed-back subsequently provided by the computer. They worked for half a lesson (approximately 20 minutes) a day for a total of 40 days. During this period, the experiment groups progressed more in reading than a control group of age and reading-level-matched students (N = 35) who received traditional remedial instruction. The group in the syllable condition gained slightly more in non-word reading and in syllable segmentation than did the letter group. Differences in gains in reading abilities were not explained by differences in age, but to some extent by initial level of phonemes and syllable awareness. Future applications of the speech-feedback system are discussed.

Key Words: Reading disorders, language disorders, remediation, synthetic speech, segmentation, computer-assisted instruction, phoneme-grapheme correspondence.

Elbro, C., Rasmussen, I. & Spelling, B. (1996). Teaching reading to disabled readers: A controlled evaluation of synthetic speech feedback. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 37, 140-155.