Centre for Reading and Language

Dr Dimitra Ioannou

Dimitra Ioannou


After completing a BSc (Hons) degree in Speech and Language Therapy in 2004, Dimitra was employed as a speech and language therapist for nineteen months in a private clinical practice in Patras, Greece. During this time, she worked with children with language, phonological and articulation disorders, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. At that time, she was also employed as a laboratorial contributor (responsible for the clinical training of speech and language therapy students in hospitals) by the Speech and Language Therapy Department of the Technological Institute of Patras. In 2005, Dimitra received a grant for postgraduate study, from the Hellenic Republic States Scholarship Foundation and went on to complete an MSc in Reading Language and Cognition in the University of York.

Dimitra then pursued a PhD, supervised by Professor Maggie Snowling, investigating the relationship between preschool phonological and language skills and later literacy acquisition in Greek speaking children. She is particularly interested in the developmental course of literacy attainment during the early years of formal schooling of children with preschool speech and language impairments.

In autumn 2009 Dimitra returned to Greece to work at the Technological Educational Institute of Patras


During her studies to become a speech and language therapist Dimitra developed a strong interest in the normal language and speech development and their disorders. She also developed an interest in literacy development of young readers. Since her introduction to the difficulties that children may face in their effort to read and write, Dimitra found herself seeking answers to the following questions: Does a relationship between the disorders in language and speech development and the successful reading and spelling development exist? In which ways may this relationship occur and affect the intervention strategies?


Conferences and abstracts:

'Phonological awareness in typically developing and language impaired Greek-speaking children'.
Ioannou, D., Snowling, M. & Hayiou-Thomas, E. (2008)
7th International Conference of the British Dyslexia Association. Harrogate, United Kingdom, 27-29 March 2008

This study examined the effects of stress, segment position, and linguistic complexity on implicit phonological awareness in Greek-speaking children. Thirty-four typically developing preschool children and seventeen children with a diagnosis of speech and/or language impairment completed a set of phonological matching tasks examining both syllabic and phonemic segments. Analyses demonstrated significant main effects for position of the segment and linguistic complexity; segments in initial position were easier than segments in final position, simple CV structures were easier than CCV ones. These results extend previous findings from English, in showing that effects of position and linguistic complexity are also important in Greek, and that stress - which in Greek is a phonemic distinction contributing to lexical identity - enhances children's ability to recognize complex syllables (CCV), as well as individual phonemes within simple syllables. Stress however, does not seem to impact on the ability to analyze phonemes embedded in cluster onsets.


'A study of literacy acquisition in Greek: An investigation of specific contributions of phonological awareness to early reading development in a transparent orthography'.
Ioannou, D., Snowling, M. & Hayiou-Thomas, E. (2008)
11th International Congress for the Study of Child Language. Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 28 July-1 August 2008 (accepted for publication)

Recent research in the area of early literacy acquisition demonstrated that children learning to read more consistent orthographies make greater gains to phonological awareness and word recognition speed during the first years of schooling than do learners of English. Contributions of phonological awareness (as measured by phoneme awareness accuracy and response time measures), rapid automatized naming (RAN) and vocabulary knowledge to early reading development, were examined in a study of 60 Greek speaking children at the end of first grade. Phoneme awareness (as measured by accuracy and response time) was a significant predictor of reading, whereas rapid automatized naming (RAN) explained a significant amount of variation in nonword reading rate. It is concluded that phoneme awareness predicts variations in learning to read in a transparent alphabetic script such as Greek, while phoneme awareness response time measures provide a sensitive measure of phonological awareness skill, which can predict variations in reading ability in consistent orthographies.


'Concurrent predictors of phonological awareness in preschool typically developing and language impaired children'.
Ioannou, D., Snowling, M. & Hayiou-Thomas, E. (2008)
Poster in the 2nd Panhellenic Conference of Cognitive Psychology, Thessaloniki, Greece, 6-9 November 2007 (accepted for publication)

Preschool speech and/or language impairments pose a risk for subsequent literacy failure. A group of 30 children with speech and/or language impairments (SL) (mean age 5;2) and a group of 51 children with typical language development (TL) (mean age 4;9 years) took part in the present study. Simultaneous regression analyses were used to investigate the relationships among phonological awareness (implicit and explicit awareness of syllables) and input phonology (as measured by a mispronunciation detection and an auditory discrimination task), output phonology (word and nonword repetition percentage of consonants correct) and vocabulary (receptive and expressive). Input phonology was a unique predictor of both TL and SL children's syllable matching ability, while output phonology explained unique variance in children?s ability to manipulate syllables within words. The findings suggest that phonological processing skills are a significant determinant of phonological awareness ability during the preschool years. Hence, children with speech and/or language impairments may have difficulty with one or both processes depending on the nature of their speech/language disorder. As result, intact phonological awareness skills which are important for subsequent literacy development are compromised.