Training prereaders in phonological skills has been shown to facilitate the acquisition of literacy skills. The question was raised whether it would be possible to use com- puter-based exercises to increase blending skills in Dutch kindergartners who had not yet received reading instruction. A package of experimental computer exercises was used in which word materials, instructions, and comments were provided through high-quality digitized speech. Twenty-five children received specific training in blending separate letter sounds into words during a 12-week period; their classmates (n = 28) received training in vocabulary using the same computers and program; yet another control group (n = 45) from separate classes did not have access to the com- puter programs. All children appeared to improve in blending skill, more so in class- rooms in which teachers regularly provided various activities to promote phonologi- cal skills. However, Ohe results also reveal a significant additional effect due to the use of the computer program. Transfer effects of the computer-based exercises to decod- ing skill were found after a few months of beginning reading instruction.
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