Kindergarten phonological awareness tasks are first compared as to their predictability of later literacy performance independent of letter knowledge for a group of German children. Results indicate that the phonological awareness tasks vary in their prediction of later literacy performance, which includes spelling and a variety of reading tasks in the first and second grades. A second concern was the relative influence of kindergarten phonological awareness compared with letter knowledge in the prediction of later literacy. The primacy of phonological awareness was demonstrated in predicting later literacy. However, evidence indicated that high letter knowledge in kindergarten may also reliably predict better later literacy skills. Results also suggest a developmental effect in the emergence of phonological processing skills in verbal memory between the ages of 4 and 8. Results of this study differ from those found in other (English speaking) populations most likely given differences in early literacy knowledge, age of beginning reading instruction, and differences in German and English orthography. © 1996 Academic Press, Inc.
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