A total of 38 preschool children (3 and 4 years old) were assessed on a set of phonological awareness tasks three times over the course of a year. The tasks used were rhyme and alliteration matching tasks with distractor items that were either semantically or phonologically related to the target. In both tasks, the children found the distractors matched for phonological similarity more difficult to reject than the semantically related distractors or the unrelated distractors. The results emphasize the importance of controlling for global phonological factors when designing phonological awareness tasks. The longitudinal findings are discussed within the context of current theories on the development of phonological representations.
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