This longitudinal study investigated the relationship between oral language abilities and phonological awareness in 85 typically developing, Spanish-English preschool children (average age in preschool was 3 years, 9 months). Receptive language skills in Spanish and English were assessed in the autumn and spring during the children's 2 years in Head Start for a total of four measurement occasions. Phonological awareness was assessed during the spring of children's kindergarten year. Results indicated that English receptive vocabulary at the end of preschool predicted English phonological awareness abilities in kindergarten, whereas Spanish vocabulary was observed to have a negative predictive relationship with children's English phonological awareness abilities. However, after controlling for English vocabulary, Spanish vocabulary no longer had an effect on English phonological awareness. Broad receptive language abilities in English and Spanish did not predict later English phonological awareness skills.
This study examined expressive vocabulary and its relationship to reading skills for 232 native English-speaking adults who read between the third- and fifth-grade levels. The Boston Naming Test (BNT; Kaplan, Goodglass, & Weintraub, 2001) was used to measure expressive vocabulary. Participants scored lower than the normative sample of adults on all aspects of the test; they had fewer spontaneously correct answers, and were not helped by stimulus or phonemic cues. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that expressive vocabulary accounted for significant variance in both reading comprehension and exception word reading, but not for general word reading or nonword reading.
Previous research indicates that removing initial strokes from Chinese characters makes them harder to read than removing final or internal ones. In the present study, we examined the contribution of important components to character configuration via singular value decomposition. The results indicated that when the least important segments, which did not seriously alter the configuration (contour) of the character, were deleted, subjects read as fast as when no segments were deleted. When the most important segments, which are located in the left side of a character and written first, were deleted, reading speed was greatly slowed. These results suggest that singular value decomposition, which has no information about stroke writing order, can identify the most important strokes for Chinese character identification. Furthermore, they also suggest that contour may be correlated with stroke writing order.
This article details a study which predicted that across a wide range of print sizes dyslexic reading would follow the same curve shape as skilled reading, with constant reading rates across large print sizes and a sharp decline in reading rates below a critical print size. It also predicted that dyslexic readers would require larger critical print sizes to attain their maximum reading speeds, following the letter position coding deficit hypothesis. Reading speed was measured across twelve print sizes ranging from Snellen equivalents of 20/12 to 20/200 letter sizes for a group of dyslexic readers in Grades 2 to 4 (aged 7 to 10 years), and for non-dyslexic readers in Grades 1 to 3 (aged 6 to 8 years). The groups were equated for word reading ability. Results confirmed that reading rate-by-print size curves followed the same two-limbed shape for dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers. Dyslexic reading curves showed higher critical print sizes and shallower reading rate-by-print size slopes below the critical print size, consistent with the hypothesis of a letter-position coding deficit. Non-dyslexic reading curves also showed a decrease of critical print size with age. A developmental lag model of dyslexic reading does not account for the results, since the regression of critical print size on maximum reading rate differed between groups.
Standardised tasks and a repeat design were used to investigate development in narrative writing by 112 primary schoolchildren. The scripts comprised the NFER Literacy Impact Writing Test B, completed near the end of the children's second terms in Year 5 and Year 6. The test includes a narrative task using content of appeal to both genders. The scripts were rated by specially trained panels, using a numeric scheme applied to five constituents of writing, and text-level and technical accuracy rating scales derived from relevant sources. All constituents of writing showed an improvement, although analysis of text-level ratings showed that there were substantial proportions of children whose writing included a feature in Year 5 but not in Year 6, as well as vice versa. Qualitative analysis revealed common features within attainment subgroups in content, language use, technical accuracy and overall effectiveness of the writing. The study provides findings that may contribute to the discourse of literacy education and also raises issues of interest for further comparative studies.
Some languages have simple grapheme-phoneme codes in which there is a one-to-one mapping, making them easy to teach and learn, while others have more complicated structures and are more difficult for teachers and students. There is now an increasing number of studies which demonstrate that readers in more transparent orthographies such as Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Greek and German have little difficulty in decoding written words, while English children have many more problems. Increasingly, lack of orthographic transparency in English is seen as having a powerful negative effect on the development of literacy skills in English-speaking children.
In the present study, the word factors associated with poor spelling in 5 school year-groups (ages 7 to 11 years) are identified as: (a) frequency of the word in the English language, (b) length of the word and (c) a measure of the phoneticity of the word. The concept of word phoneticity is explored and data is presented illustrating the predictive model of spelling. The implications the model has for teaching and learning English are discussed, with particular reference to the beneficial effects that greater orthographic transparency would have for children.
The aim of the present study was to examine the spelling development of Greek-speaking children in the early school grades. Although Greek orthography is regular for reading, it is much less transparent as far as spelling is concerned. Spelling development was investigated using a word spelling task designed to explore the effects of word length, familiarity and spelling regularity. One hundred and fifty normally developing primary school children living in Cyprus took part in the study. Results suggest that the children employed both phonological and lexical strategies in spelling Greek words. Results indicated that sub-lexical procedures were more marked for younger children, whereas lexical processing was employed more widely by older children. The findings are interpreted in terms of stage developmental models.
Eight and 11 year old good and poor readers carried out a lexical decision task, in which the accuracy of responding to nonwords and pseudohomophonic nonwords was assessed. Nonwords such as?loast', are meaningless but conform to the rules of English spelling. Pseudohomophones, such as?poast', are a special category of nonword as they sound like real words. In this study, the two classes of nonwords were closely matched for visual similarity,?poast?and?loast', for example, differing only in the initial consonant. All the groups were more prone to misclassify pseudo?homophones as words than nonwords. Poor readers of average and below average IQ, and their reading age controls, performed very similarly. It was concluded that the poor readers were equally as able to generate phonological information from nonwords as their reading age controls, and that there was no evidence to suggest that the poor readers suffered primarily from a phonological dysfunction. Both the average and below average intelligence poor readers showed a pattern of performance indicative of a delay or an arrestment in reading development, rather than a deficit in generating and utilising phonological information.
The Nelson Denny Reading Test (Brown, Fishco & Hanna, 1993) provides measures of comprehension, reading rate and vocabulary. It is widely used in research studies with high school and undergraduate students and for assessment purposes in the USA. No widely used test of this kind exists for adults in the UK. The present paper reports data from 197 undergraduates from the University of Essex on the Nelson Denny test. Analyses were carried out of the data in terms of degree type and year of study. The scores obtained with the present sample were higher than those reported in the manual of the Nelson Denny test for a subset of the standardisation sample. Possible reasons for this difference are discussed. Overall, the results suggest that the Nelson Denny test is suitable for use with UK undergraduate students.
Recently, Goswami (1999) reviewed available evidence for and against the role of phonological rime awareness and analogy theory, concluding that both rhyme awareness and orthographic rime analogy are causally related to reading acquisition. On inspection, however, much of this evidence best fits an alternative (non-rime) interpretation. Furthermore, in a number of studies, key facts and analyses were not reported. A fuller re-analysis of the literature reviewed by Goswami reveals that: 1) the nature of the relationship between phonological rhyme awareness and reading remains controversial; 2) significant doubt remains about the nature and relevance of demonstrations of analogy use in early reading; 3) such training studies as currently exist suggest that rime use is not important compared to the use of phonemes or other sub-syllabic units. Implications from this evidence for teaching and the role rime analogy should play in the National Curriculum are explored.
Reading literacy of fourth-grade students in Hong Kong showed a remarkable improvement from 2001 to 2006 as shown by international PIRLS studies. This study identified various aspects of the teacher factor contributing to the significant improvement among students. A total of 4,712 students and 144 teachers from 144 schools were randomly selected using probability proportional-to-size technique to receive the Reading Assessment Test and complete the Teacher's Questionnaire, respectively. A number of items pertaining to teachers' instructional strategies and activities, opportunities for students to read various types of materials, practices on assessment, and professional preparation and perception, were found to be significantly correlated with the outcome of students' reading literacy. Stepwise regression procedure revealed four significant predictors for students' overall reading achievement. The most powerful predictor was the use of materials from other subjects as reading resources. Suggestions to improve quality of teaching of reading and further studies are made.
This study investigated the use of text-message abbreviations (textisms) in Australian adolescents and young adults, and relations between textism use and literacy abilities. Fifty-two high school students aged 13–15 years, and 53 undergraduates aged 18–24 years, all users of predictive texting, translated conventional English sentences into textese using two methods: writing messages down and typing them into mobile phones. Participants produced a variety of textisms, and in both translation methods, adolescents and young adults used textisms in nearly identical ways. This was true for the proportion and types of textisms used, textism categories produced and consistency with which textisms were spelled. The use of textisms was negatively correlated with scores for reading, nonword reading, spelling and morphological awareness, but some of these relationships were accounted for by participants' usual text-messaging frequency. For these age groups, concerns that frequent texting may mask or even contribute to poor linguistic skills cannot be dismissed.
A longitudinal study investigated the relationship between cognitive abilities at age four and reading at age seven. Reading ability was significantly positively correlated with knowledge of grapheme-phoneme correspondence, visual memory, auditory sequential memory, and Draw-a-man scores (intelligence). Once age (20ro) and intelligence (12%) were partialled out, auditory sequential memory scores at age four accounted for 13% of the variance in reading scores with visual sequential memory scores predicting a further 5%. Implications of results are discussed.
French and Dutch differ regarding the manifestations and lexical functions of the stress pattern of words. The present study examined group differences in stress processing abilities between French-native and Dutch-native listeners, thus extending previous cross-linguistic comparisons involving Spanish-native and French-native adults. The results show that Dutch-native first-graders significantly outperformed French monolinguals, and that French-native listeners schooled in Dutch produced intermediary performances, suggesting that stress-processing abilities are a learnable set of skills. The present study also examined the contribution of stress processing abilities to reading development in Dutch, a stress-based language, compared to that in French, a syllable-based language. Although the expected correlation between stress processing abilities and reading was not observed in the Dutch monolinguals, such correlation was observed in the French-native bilinguals schooled in Dutch and not in the Dutch-native bilinguals schooled in French. This suggests that stress processing abilities influence reading development in a second, stress-based, language. Moreover, the monolinguals and bilinguals schooled in Dutch showed significant associations between lexical development and stress processing abilities. Ways in which prosody might be involved in lexical and reading development are explored and discussed.
This paper investigates Spanish dyslexic spelling abilities: specifically, the influence of syllabic linguistic structure (simple vs consonant cluster) on children's spelling performance. Consonant clusters are phonologically complex structures, so it was anticipated that there would be lower spelling performance for these syllabic structures than in simple ones, because of the poor phonological processing of dyslexic children. The participants were 31 dyslexic children, 31 chronological age-matched children and 31 reading level-matched children. A dictation task with words and pseudowords (with and without consonant clusters) was used. Word lexical frequency was controlled. The results show that the spelling of consonant clusters presents difficulties for dyslexic spelling performance despite this structure being orthographically consistent. Dyslexic children present a higher performance difference in items with consonant clusters than in simple items, compared with typically developing children. The work raises questions about the items used for the identification of dyslexic children's difficulties.
This study aims to examine the impact of the linguistic nature of the material to be tracked in a serial reaction time task on the performance of typical readers and children with dyslexia. In doing so, we wished to detect eventual differences in the mobilisation of implicit learning skills between typical readers according to their experience with the written word (8- vs 10-year-olds) on the one hand, and between typical readers and children with dyslexia, on the other hand. Experiment 1 confirms the efficiency of implicit sequence learning in typical readers regardless of the nature of the item being tracked. Experiment 2 indicates that the sequence learning of children with dyslexia is sensitive to the nature of the target. Children with dyslexia show differences in the evolution of response times according to the nature of the item to be tracked.
The purpose of this study was to compare a range of reading–related abilities in two groups of college freshmen with higher and lower reading comprehension abilities. Reading comprehension ability groups were formed using American College Test reading scores. The groups were compared on measures of oral language vocabulary and syntax, phonemic awareness and print decoding skills. Results indicated that abilities that appear to relate to reading comprehension include recognition of the order of phonemes in spoken syllables, recognition of words that are good semantic and syntactic fits for sentence frames, recall of meanings for spoken words and conversion of printed to spoken words.
Erratum. Journal of Research in Reading 29:2, 252
In this article, we discuss two characteristics of the majority of current behaviour- and molecular-genetic studies of reading ability and disability, specifically, the ascertainment strategies and the populations from which samples are selected. In the context of this discussion, we present data that we collected on a sample of Swahili-speaking siblings from Tanzania. With this sample, we (1) explore the efficiency and practicality of the single proband sibpair design and (2) provide data on the predictability of reading and spelling performance using reading-related componential measures in a novel Swahili-speaking sample. Specifically, we present the selection criteria, discuss the pattern of behavioural and behaviour-genetic results obtained on the sample and compare these results with those available in the literature. We report behavioural and behaviour-genetic correlations in this sample that are comparable with other studied samples in other languages, and discuss the similarities and differences. Thus, we demonstrate the suitability and effectiveness of the single sib ascertainment method for genetic analyses of reading ability and disability in novel samples in previously unstudied languages.
This paper reports the follow-up of a randomised control trial study of the ABRACADABRA web-based literacy intervention that contrasted synthetic versus analytic phonics (Comaskey, Savage & Abrami, 2009) in kindergarten children from urban low-SES backgrounds. Participants who received a ‘synthetic’ phonics+phoneme awareness training (n = 26) or an ‘analytic’ phonics+phoneme awareness training literacy intervention (n = 27) were tested on standard measures of literacy 1 year later. Results revealed a significant main effect (p < .01) for the analytic group performing better on passage reading comprehension. Modest advantages for children who received the analytic phonics programme were evident. We obtained an effect size favourably comparable with other studies, after adjusting for intervention duration (ES = .41). It is concluded that analytic phonics programmes may provide modest but significant sustained advantages in literacy for kindergarten children from low-SES backgrounds.
Study-abroad students, products of their own particular academic literacy culture, face the challenge of rapidly integrating into a foreign academic literacy community. This study identifies possible culturally dependent sources of literacy problems in Law and Economics students in Great Britain, France and Spain. Nearly 600 potential European study-abroad candidates (ERASMUS programme) and 169 of their university teachers from 17 universities in the three countries completed a questionnaire on first language (L1) reading practices. Results revealed distinct academic literacy profiles within disciplines across national cultures. Academic reading practices are seen to be more important overall in Britain, significantly less so in Spain, while France shows some characteristics of both British and Spanish approaches. Summarised results of a concurrent investigation into ERASMUS students' foreign language reading skills suggest the influence of L1 literacy traditions on foreign language reading, which points to pedagogical implications and directions for further study.
The level of abstraction of textual material is one factor affecting the difficulty it presents to the reader and so effective ways of assessing it are potentially useful for the teacher and researcher. A ‘new’ measure was compared with an old one and some similarity found in their assessment of science texts. The earlier measure may be the easier one for the non-specialist to use. The results also suggested a rule of thumb which practising teachers might find useful.
Study Objective : To investigate how structural variables influence readers’ construction of meaning from short‐text samples of expository prose across different levels of background knowledge, text familiarity and L2 competence.
Subjects: 36 Spanish‐speaking medical graduates of different L2 proficiency—18 High Intermediate (HI) and 18 Advanced subjects (AD)—were randomly divided into 2 sub‐groups of 9 subjects.
Design: Rhetorical manipulations were performed on the published versions of three semantically different medical English abstracts (familiar and relatively unfamiliar topics). Each sub‐group received one of either version and completed a reading test. A questionnaire elicited background information on the subjects. Self‐generated comments on the abstracts were optional.
Statistical Treatment of Data: The number of correct answers for each abstract was recorded. Between‐group one‐ and two‐way ANOVAs were applied. The questionnaires and self‐generated comments were both qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed.
Results: Both groups differed in their background knowledge and in their intensity of English reading. The AD subjects outperformed the HI ones in reading performance for all three abstracts together, and for the two relatively unfamiliar abstracts only. No difference was observed for the familiar abstract. In the well structured but relatively unfamiliar abstract, only L2 competence affected reading performance. In the relatively unfamiliar and poorly structured abstract, text structure, L2 competence and the interaction between both variables affected reading comprehension.
Conclusions: Textual variables operate differently depending on the extent of the readers’ background knowledge and linguistic competence. Variables such as exposure to reading materials (in L1 and L2), background knowledge and L2 competence seem to outweigh the importance of structural variables.