Purpose

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between language knowledge at 5 years of age and later academic achievement throughout compulsory school in Iceland.

Method

Between 1997 and 1998, 267 Icelandic preschool children aged from 5;4 (years;months) to 5;10 were tested with the HLJÓM-2 (an Icelandic test of phonological awareness; Símonardóttir, Einarsdóttir, & Björnsdóttir, 2002) and the Icelandic version of the Test of Language Development—Primary: Second Edition (TOLD-2P; oral comprehension tasks; Símonardóttir, Guðmundsson, Skúlason, & Pétursdóttir, 1995). In 2011 these individuals, now aged 18–19 years, were contacted again. Of the original 267 participants, 221 (83%) gave permission to link their results from the preschool language assessments with their performance on national tests in 4th, 7th, and 10th grades.

Results

The results showed strong correlation between phonological awareness (as measured by the HLJÓM-2) and academic achievement (Icelandic and mathematics) in 4th, 7th, and 10th grades. There was also a significant but lower correlation with oral comprehension skills, as measured with the TOLD-2P. Regression analysis showed that the preschool oral-language assessments in phonological awareness and oral comprehension explained between 35% and 43% of variability in scores on national tests in Icelandic and between 20% and 39% of variability in scores in mathematics.

Conclusion

Preschool language knowledge is a reliable predictor of later academic achievement.

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