Thesis Title

The Relationship Between English Language Learners' Phonemic Awareness and Decoding Skills

Graduation Date

Summer 2008

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Lisa Ray Kelly


This study examined correlations between phonemic awareness and decoding in English language learners (ELL) and English-proficient (non-ELL) first grade students. There is a general consensus in the literature that phonemic awareness and decoding are strongly related during early reading development (Ehri, Nunes, Willows, Schuster, Yaghoub-Zadeh, & Shanahan, 2001). This study was designed to discover if ELLs and non-ELLs show similar relationships between these two variables. There were 11 non-ELLs and 23 ELLs from a rural school in northern California in the sample used for this study. The correlations between phonemic awareness and decoding were compared across these two groups of students. Phonemic awareness and decoding ability levels were determined via the Results blending, segmenting, and basic phonics skills test (California Reading & Literature Project, 2001). The ELLs showed stronger correlations than the non-ELLs. This study concluded that phonemic awareness has a stronger relationship to decoding in ELLs than in non-ELLs.

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