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Early predictors of reading in three groups of native Spanish speakers: Spaniards, Gypsies, and Latin Americans. The main purpose of the study reported here was to examine the early linguistic predictors of reading (e.g., Knowledge About Print, Listening Comprehension, Receptive Vocabulary, Rapid Naming of Objects and Letters, and Phonological Awareness), for a sample of 77 Spaniards, 48 Latinos, and 30 Gypsies kindergartens (mean age = 5 years 9 months) living in Spain. The relative contribution of ethnic background, neighbourhood socioeconomic status (SES), age, and gender was assessed. Findings revealed that ethnic background, neighborhood SES, and age differentially predicted children's pre-literacy skills. The implications of these results for understanding the role played by these demographic and socio-cultural variables in alphabetic literacy acquisition are discussed. The second purpose of this study was to add to the growing literature on the nature of reading challenges in children who are learning to read a transparent orthography-Spanish. Cross-linguistic research between different subtypes of readers will add to understand the impact of language characteristics in reading acquisition. Finally, the present study suggested that early assessment of pre-literacy skills can be a highly effective way to determine the instructional needs of students who are at risk for reading failure before formal reading instruction begins. sjp
Perceptual learning of systematic variation in Spanish-accented speech. Spoken language is characterized by an enormous amount of variability in how linguistic segments are realized. In order to investigate how speech perceptual processes accommodate to multiple sources of variation, adult native speakers of American English were trained with English words or sentences produced by six Spanish-accented talkers. At test, listeners transcribed utterances produced by six familiar or unfamiliar Spanish-accented talkers. With only brief exposure, listeners perceptually adapted to accent-general regularities in spoken language, generalizing to novel accented words and sentences produced by unfamiliar accented speakers. Acoustic properties of vowel production and their relation to identification performance were assessed to determine if the English listeners were sensitive to systematic variation in the realization of accented vowels. Vowels that showed the most improvement after Spanish-accented training were distinct from nearby vowels in terms of their acoustic characteristics. These findings suggest that the speech perceptual system dynamically adjusts to the acoustic consequences of changes in talker's voice and accent. jasm.
The processing of subject and object relative clauses in Spanish: an eye-tracking study. A normative study and an eye-tracking experiment investigated the influence of animacy on the processing of subject and object relative clauses in Spanish. The results showed that object relative clauses caused more difficulty than subject relative clauses, but that animacy modulated this preference. The overall pattern was similar to findings in other languages. However, because of the syntactic characteristics of Spanish relative clauses, the results give novel insights into the processing mechanisms that underlie relative clause processing. qjep