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Curriculum Corner: Latest Thoughts and Research on Instruction

Connected Phonation vs Segmented Phonation

by Sam Chiang 3/22/2021

Dr. Selenid Gonzalez-Frey and her co-author Dr. Linnea Ehri conducted a study (webinar on study) to determine if beginner readers would learn initial decoding better through continuous speech production (connected phonation) or segmented speech production (segmented phonation). This is particularly important because there have been several cases where students can segment sounds of words, but have a difficult time blending, decoding, and reading basic CVC words. In Fundations, students are taught segmented phonation. In this study, students were broken into three groups: students taught with connected phonation, students taught with segmented phonation, and a control group. Here are the four research questions Dr. Selenid Gonzalez-Frey investigated:

Research Question 1: Will beginning readers learn to decode CVC nonwords containing continuant consonants more readily when they are taught with the connected phonation procedure than with the segmented phonation procedure?

Research Question 2: Will decoding skill transfer more readily to new CVC nonwords containing stop consonants when preceded by connected phonation training then by segmented phonation training?

Research Question 3: Will the beneficial effects of blending instruction with no pauses persist over time on a delayed posttest assessing CVC nonword reading with stop consonants?

Research Question 4: Will the beneficial effects transfer to different literacy tasks that were not taught including reading more complex nonwords with consonant clusters (CCVC), reading CVC real words, and spelling CVC nonwords?


  • Participants: kindergarteners, no learning disabilities

  • Pretests: letter name and sounds of 13 target letters

    • stops: b, c, k, p, t

    • continuants: f, l, m, n, s

    • short vowels: a, i, o

    • decode 4 CVC words

    • read 20 pre-primer and 20 primer words

    • phoneme awareness

    • spelling nonwords

Connected Phonation Procedure

Teach students to hold and connect adjacent phonemes instead of breaking up the sounds of each phoneme (no pauses between sounds). This is only possible with continuant consonants that can be held (f, l, m, n, s). This is not possible with (d, b, p, c, k, etc). Thus, the continuant consonants would be held until the next phoneme is spoken. (ffffffffff-aaaaaaaa-nnnnnnn) Then students immediately blend/read the word. (fan)

Segmented Phonation Procedure

Teach students to pause between phonemes prior to blending. For example, "san" would be read as /s//a//n/ with a pause between phonemes.


  • Findings suggest that decoding programs could be made more effective by implementing the connected phonation procedure

    • first by instructing students to decode CVC words with continuant consonants until mastery

    • then progressing to the decoding of words with stop consonants

  • Students in the connected phonation group

    • students seem to have a better concept of how to bring separate phonemes in a word together

    • transferred their blending knowledge to stop consonant CVC words in the immediate and delayed posttests

    • produced a whole, succinct word without stretching or breaking between phoneme

    • avoided adding schwa vowels and resulted in blended nonword

    • made it easier to remember phonemes, especially memory for initial consonants

Two Article Reviews on the Importance of Early Reading Intervention

by Sam Chiang 2/19/2021

Two articles from The Reading League Journal, consolidate the converging research on the importance of screening, assessment, and evidence based intervention at the early elementary grades, particularly in Kindergarten and 1st grade.

The first article, "Dyslexia: An Ounce of Prevention is Better Than a Pound of Diagnosis and Treatment" by Drs. Hugh Catts and Tiffany Hogan explain the paradox of diagnosing dyslexia and providing intensive intervention usually around grade 2 when intensive intervention is less effective and more time-consuming than, say providing the intensive intervention in kindergarten and 1st grade. By screening for dyslexia earlier and providing the necessary instruction earlier, schools may be able to reduce the effects of dyslexia for student's word-reading abilities. In essence, the idea to prevent rather than react.

Key Quotations from "Dyslexia: An Ounce of Prevention is Better Than a Pound of Diagnosis and Treatment":

"...dyslexia is not generally diagnosed until children are in second grade or later...and negative consequences are well underway." (6)

"...word reading interventions were significantly more effective for improving reading outcomes when administered in kindergarten and first grade than they were when administered during later grades." (7)

"...dyslexia is not typically not diagnosed until well past the time that intervention is most effective." (7)

"Again, when we say prevent dyslexia, we do not mean to alter the neurological attributes that underline dyslexia, but rather reduce or eliminate the severe reading problems that characterize the disorder." (8)

The second article, "Brick by Brick: A Series of Landmark Studies Pointing to the Importance of Early Reading Intervention," by Drs. Emily Solari, Colby Hall, and Anita McGinty summarize the scientific studies' findings on early reading intervention. One of the more interesting findings noted in this article showed that several studies found that monitoring struggling readers throughout their academic lives continued to struggle reading if no intervention was applied. This suggests that the anecdotal idea that some students are reading "late bloomers" and that their reading difficulties will disappear on their own is a dangerous myth. The gap between between those who can and cannot doesn't narrow without something changing: high quality reading instruction/intervention.

Key Quotations from "Brick by Brick: A Series of Landmark Studies Pointing to the Importance of Early Reading Intervention"

"...reading difficulties in the early elementary grades do not "catch up" to their peers naturally, over time, in the absence of intervention." (20)

"...74% of children who were poor readers in Grade 3 remained poor readers in Grade 9." (19)

"Research has shown that students can be accurately and efficiently identified as at risk for having later reading difficulties as early as kindergarten." (19)

"...among the students who received only one year of the intervention, those who received it early--during Grade 1--outperformed their peers who received it in Grade 2 or Grade 3. Earlier was more effective than later." (19)

"...students who had access to reading intervention in kindergarten had significantly higher reading scores at the end of Grade 1 than their peers who did not." (19-20)

"On tests of word reading skill, children who received the intervention earlier (i.e. in Grades 1 or 2) made gains that were almost twice the gains made by children who received the intervention in Grade 3. At a follow-up (1-3 years later), the advantage of early intervention was maintained." (20)

" leaders and educators should push for early screening of all students in K and Grade 1..." (20)