Learning to Attend to Sentence Structure: Links Between Metalinguistic Development and Reading

  • Ellen Bouchard Ryan
  • George W. Ledger
Part of the Springer Series in Language and Communication book series (SSLAN, volume 17)


Metalinguistic activity involves the ability to treat language objectively and to manipulate language structures deliberately. This ability to focus attention on language forms per se becomes possible for children only gradually as their cognitive development proceeds. In the understanding of spoken language, the focus of attention is typically on the meaning of the utterance, and little attention is paid to the particular acoustic forms of the message. Written language, on the other hand, requires analysis and manipulation of language forms in order to extract the meaning from them. According to Vygotsky (1934), Mattingly (1972), and Cazden (1972, 1974), the additional cognitive demands of this analysis and manipulation underly the observed discrepancy between the adequate speaking and listening abilities of the young, school-age child and his limited ability to deal with written language.


Phonological Awareness Skilled Reader Poor Reader Sentence Structure Sentence Context 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Bouchard Ryan
  • George W. Ledger

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