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Reading Ability: Lexical Quality to Comprehension

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Abstract

The lexical quality hypothesis (LQH) claims that variation in the quality of word representations has consequences for reading skill, including comprehension. High lexical quality includes well-specified and partly redundant representations of form (orthography and phonology) and flexible representations of meaning, allowing for rapid and reliable meaning retrieval. Low-quality representations lead to specific word-related problems in comprehension. Six lines of research on adult readers demonstrate some of the implications of the LQH. First, large-scale correlational results show the general interdependence of comprehension and lexical skill while identifying disassociations that allow focus on comprehension-specific skill. Second, word-level semantic processing studies show comprehension skill differences in the time course of form-meaning confusions. Studies of rare vocabulary learning using event-related potentials (ERPs) show that, third, skilled comprehenders learn new words more effectively and show stronger ERP indicators for memory of the word learning event and, fourth, suggest skill differences in the stability of orthographic representations. Fifth, ERP markers show comprehension skill differences in meaning processing of ordinary words. Finally, in text reading, ERP results demonstrate momentary difficulties for low-skill comprehenders in integrating a word with the prior text. The studies provide evidence that word-level knowledge has consequences for word meaning processes in comprehension.
... We tested the participants' word-meaning access with a meaning-based written vocabulary test (Nation, 1990). Vocabulary size is considered one of the most important predictors of reading comprehension both in the L1 (Perfetti, 2007) and L2 (e.g., meta-analysis of Jeon and Yamashita, 2014) domains. Oral vocabulary is always tested with child participants and often used as an indicator of language comprehension under the framework of SVR, whereas written vocabulary is tested with adolescent or adults, especially in L2 studies (Jeon and Yamashita, 2014). ...
... Although we did not find an impact of meaning access on the comprehension of advanced CSL learners, this does not imply that meaning access is not crucial for reading. According to the lexical quality hypothesis (LQH; Perfetti, 2007) and the decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension triangle (DVC; Perfetti, 2010), word meanings are central to both reading comprehension and word identification. Moreover, accessing word meanings from visual form is considered to be, compared to transparent orthographies, even more important and more efficient in Chinese reading based on the orthographic depth hypothesis (Katz and Frost, 1992) and the lexical processing model of Chinese reading (Zhou et al., 1999). ...
... First, word instruction should emphasize both reading aloud and meaning explanations from visual input to improve CSL learners' lexical representation and ability to recognize Chinese visual words. According to LQH (Perfetti, 2007), high quality lexical representations allow for fast and accurate visual word recognition, which not only helps learners access the precise meaning of words but also frees up cognitive resources to practice higher-level comprehension skillsprediction, reasoning, integration, reflection, and other abilitiesto finally improve their reading comprehension skills. With the improvement of reading comprehension skills, learners have more opportunities to be exposed to reading materials, showing the Matthew effect in the development of reading ability (Stanovich, 1986), and finally improving comprehensive skills in the Chinese second language. ...
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The Simple View of Reading (SVR) designates that reading comprehension is the product of decoding and listening comprehension and this conclusion has been supported by studies on school-aged native and nonnative speakers. However, it remains unknown whether SVR can be applied to adult second language (L2) learners. The current study addressed this issue by testing adult learners of Chinese as a second language with various proficiency levels and further extended the model by including word segmentation and word-meaning access, both of which are particularly crucial in reading Chinese. The results showed that listening comprehension only contributed to reading comprehension for the advanced learners, while decoding accuracy predicted reading comprehension regardless of Chinese proficiency. However, the total proportion of variance accounted for was relatively low, especially for the lower proficiency groups. Interestingly, word segmentation and word-meaning access explained a large proportion of the total variance and concomitantly decreased the apparent influence of word decoding. Taken together, these findings highlight that the individual characteristics of a given language can modulate the contributions of decoding and listening comprehension to predicting reading comprehension.
... The reader must also determine the meaning of the word. Two other reading models, Lexical Quality Model (Perfetti, 2007) and Word Recognition Model (Adams, 1990), further established the significant role of word recognition in reading comprehension from a theoretical perspective. As Adams (1990) noted, the ability to read words "quickly, accurately, and effortlessly" is critical to skillful reading comprehension (p. ...
... This study explicitly captured the direct effects of character recognition on L2 Chinese reading. Since there is no space between Chinese characters (Shen & Jiang, 2013), automatic and efficient character recognition will lead to efficient word segmentation, which will free limited working memory resources to higher-level sentence or passage comprehension (Grabe, 2009, p. 29;Perfetti, 2007). In contrast, if learners have inefficient character recognition, they might spend too long recognizing individual characters and combining one character with nearby ones to make sense of the meanings of possible combinations of words. ...
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Although there have been extensive theoretical discussions on the various component skills needed in comprehending texts in L2 English and L1 Chinese, empirical investigations on the component skills of L2 Chinese are scarce. This study attempts to fill in this gap by investigating the direct and indirect contributions of two lower-level latent component skills, radical knowledge and character recognition, to L2 Chinese passage-level reading comprehension. Radical knowledge was measured by a Receptive Semantic Radical Knowledge Test and a Semantic Radical Meaning Matching Test. Character recognition was assessed by a Lexical Decision Test and a Character Knowledge Test. Two tests, a Multiple-choice Test and a Cloze Test, were adopted to measure textual reading comprehension. The data were collected from 209 learners of Chinese as a second language (CSL). Radical knowledge was found to have a significant direct effect on character recognition and significant indirect effect on L2 Chinese reading through the mediation of character recognition. Character recognition was found to have a significant direct effect on reading comprehension. Taken together, this study suggests the importance of lower-level character and sub-character component skills to L2 Chinese reading.
... Extending this to spelling, Shahar-Yames and Share (2008) suggest that the attention to letter identity and order required in spelling facilitates the establishment of well-specified orthographic representations (see also Frith, 1985). These theoretical models of reading and spelling development for monolinguals suggest that both word reading and word spelling should determine the acquisition of orthographic knowledge, or the orthographic aspects of word representations (see also Perfetti, 2007;Deacon & Sparks, 2015). They also point to the need to test these ideas with word-level orthographic tasks, also known as lexical orthographic knowledge. ...
... The present study has several limitations. Given our interest in testing theoretical predictions on the acquisition of strong word-specific representations (e.g., Perfetti, 2007), we used a lexical orthographic choice task (e.g., Chung, et al., 2017;Conrad et al., 2013;Deacon, 2012;Deacon et al., 2009Deacon et al., , 2012Deacon et al., , 2013aDeacon et al., , 2013bPasquarella et al., 2014). There have been some concerns of circularity in measurement because performance on lexical orthographic knowledge tasks involves at least some word reading skill (e.g., Burt, 2006;Castles & Nation, 2006). ...
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Orthographic knowledge is predicted to be central in the process of children’s reading development. We examined both the temporal order between orthographic knowledge and each of word reading and word spelling—effectively, which predicts which by including autoregressive controls— and cross-linguistic transfer between English and French for our emerging bilingual participants. Seven-three children (36 males) were followed from Grades 1 to 3 in a French immersion program in which instruction was entirely in French. We conducted cross-lagged panel models of orthographic knowledge, word reading, and spelling that included controls of phonological awareness, non-verbal ability. In terms of temporal order, word reading (at grade 1) and word spelling (at grade 2) predicted gains in each of English and French orthographic knowledge. In contrast, early orthographic knowledge did not predict gains in word reading or word spelling in either language. In terms of transfer, from their earliest point of measurement, English word reading and spelling consistently predicted later French orthographic knowledge; French word reading and spelling contributed to English orthographic knowledge only from Grade 2. These findings illustrate a dynamic picture of the relations between orthographic knowledge and word reading and spelling both within and across languages, informing current models of each reading with both monolinguals and bilinguals.
... In this sense, it seems that deep word knowledge itself is a broad concept that makes it possible to link the three levels of word representation (Perfetti, 2007) and rapidly access from one to the other (fluency and network organisation dimensions), which helps recognize and decode words more quickly and easily (Dujardin et al., 2021). That is, the vocabulary depth reflects how well words are organised in the mental lexicon (Afshari & Tavakoli, 2016). ...
... That is, the vocabulary depth reflects how well words are organised in the mental lexicon (Afshari & Tavakoli, 2016). As a result, we agree with Ouellette and Shaw (2014) in that integrity and organisation of the lexical-semantic system is a critical factor in word reading and writing, as it shows the importance of semantic network cohesiveness in reading (Nation & Snowling, 2004) and, according to the lexical quality hypothesis (Perfetti, 2007), the results of the present study seem to reflect the role of mutually integrated and connected representations in efficient reading. That is, what we know about words before reading prepares us to recognize more quickly even the visual forms of individual words, as well as to understand their meanings more accurately and rapidly, and transfer them to a new context (Wolf, 2020). ...
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The aim of this study is to explore the predictive value of vocabulary breadth and depth together with the classical variables of phonological awareness, naming speed and alphabetic knowledge in explaining progress in the initial learning of reading and writing in a sample of 162 students in the 3rd year of kindergarten. Early detection of risks in learning to read is essential to be able to intervene proactively if signs of dyslexia are found. The study of skills that predict successful literacy acquisition may be useful to identify risk indicators of learning disabilities in reading and writing in early childhood education. The results found confirm the contribution of classical variables and reveal that especially vocabulary depth seems to be a good predictor of success in early literacy performance. The educational implications of these findings are discussed.
... Consequently, tuning these connections (over development) improves both knowledge and processing. Even in traditional information-processing accounts (Perfetti, 2007;Yap et al., 2009), lexical knowledge is a continuum of quality, or integrity, along multiple dimensions (semantic, orthographic, phonological). 1 Under both views, relatively poor real-time processing derives from learning that is incomplete (at early stages of development) or impaired (in the case of DLD; Ullman et al., 2020). However, it is unclear in this kind of account why two groups with equivalently poor states of knowledge (young children, children with DLD) exhibit different profiles of processing. ...
Article
Words are fundamental to language, linking sound, articulation, and spelling to meaning and syntax; and lexical deficits are core to communicative disorders. Work in language acquisition commonly focuses on how lexical knowledge—knowledge of words’ sound patterns and meanings—is acquired. But lexical knowledge is insufficient to account for skilled language use. Sophisticated real-time processes must decode the sound pattern of words and interpret them appropriately. We review work that bridges this gap by using sensitive real-time measures (eye tracking in the visual world paradigm) of school-age children’s processing of highly familiar words. This work reveals that the development of word recognition skills can be characterized by changes in the rate at which decisions unfold in the lexical system (the activation rate). Moreover, contrary to the standard view that these real-time skills largely develop during infancy and toddlerhood, they develop slowly, at least through adolescence. In contrast, language disorders can be linked to differences in the ultimate degree to which competing interpretations are suppressed (competition resolution), and these differences can be mechanistically linked to deficits in inhibition. These findings have implications for real-world problems such as reading difficulties and second-language acquisition. They suggest that developing accurate, flexible, and efficient processing is just as important a developmental goal as is acquiring language knowledge.
... This finding -which reflects the first comparison of dyslexic readers' pupillatory responses -requires further work to ascertain its origins. Whilst these findings may reflect a generalized attentional deficit (Gabrieli and Norton, 2012;Hari and Renvall, 2001;Krause, 2015;Shaywitz and Shaywitz, 2008;Lonergan et al., 2019), an alternative possibility is a reduced attentional response in dyslexic readers, specifically to written words (Bavelier et al., 2013;Breznitz and Leikin, 2001;Franceschini et al., 2013;Breznitz, 2014, 2008;Perfetti, 2007). ...
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Readers with developmental dyslexia are known to be impaired in representing and accessing phonology, but their ability to process meaning is generally considered to be intact. However, neurocognitive studies show evidence of a subtle semantic processing deficit in dyslexic readers, relative to their typically developing peers. Here, we compared dyslexic and typical adult readers on their ability to judge semantic congruency (congruent vs. inconcongruent) in short, two-word phrases, which were further manipulated for phonological relatedness (alliterating vs. non-alliterating); “dazzling-diamond”; “sparkling-diamond”; “dangerousdiamond”; and “creepy-diamond”. At the level of behavioural judgement, all readers were less accurate when evaluating incongruent alliterating items compared with incongruent nonaliterating, suggesting that phonological patterning creates the illusion of semantic congruency (as per Egan et al., 2020). Dyslexic readers showed a similar propensity for this form-meaning relationship despite a phonological processing impairment as evidenced in the cognitive and literacy indicative assessments. Dyslexic readers also showd an overall reduction in the ability to accurately judge semantic congruency, suggestive of a subtle semantic impairment. Whilst no group differences emerged in the electrophysiological measures, our pupil dilation measurements revealed a global tendency for dyslexic readers to manifest a reduced attentional response to these word stimuli, compared with typical readers. Our results show a broader manifestation of neurocognitive differences in dyslexic and typical readers’ linguistic skills than a straightforward difference in phonological processing.
... It is widely accepted that language experience is instrumental in forming, refining, and maintaining mental representations of linguistic structure (MacDonald, 2013;Perfetti, 2007;Seidenberg & MacDonald, 1999;Stanovich & West, 1989). A key principle of these accounts is that internalized word knowledge is shaped by the distributional properties of the input, including frequency statistics and co-occurrence patterns of words and phrases. ...
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Exposure to statistical patterns of language use affect language production and comprehension. In this longitudinal study of English language learner (ELL) university students, we examined the interplay between language experience and language statistics as a window into the formation and stability of morphological representations in memory. We hypothesized that within-participant change in sensitivity to distributional properties of complex words on written production would reflect changes in morphological knowledge. At two timepoints, separated by eight months of language exposure, a sample of ELLs (n = 196) completed a written suffix completion task. The largest gains in production accuracy were observed for derived words ending in less productive suffixes. In addition, across both timepoints we found a consistent effect of derivational family entropy, such that derived words belonging to morphological families with equally dominant members were less accurately produced. Both effects indicate that ELLs exploit distributional cues to morphological structure and shed light on two aspects of morphological knowledge in ELLs. First, knowledge of suffixes becomes more entrenched in memory, independently of knowledge of the full forms of derived words. Second, ELLs draw upon inter-lexical connections between morphological family members during written word production.
... Eye-tracking-while-reading was used to enable us to identify the locus of any processing difficulties. Participants' word reading and working memory capacity were measured because individual differences in each may influence performance (Perfetti, 2007;Shah & Miyake, 1996; but see Staub, 2021). We controlled for these individual characteristics (decoding, working memory) by including the scores as covariates in the analyses, since our primary motivation was to identify the individual and combined effects of the three ordering principles. ...
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In an eye-tracking-while-reading study, we investigated adult monolinguals' (N = 80) processing of two-clause sentences embedded in short narratives. Three principles theorised to guide comprehension of complex sentences were contrasted: one operating at the clause level, namely clause structure (main clause – subordinate clause or vice versa), and two operating at the discourse-level, namely givenness (given-new vs. new-given) and event order (chronological vs. reverse order). The results indicate that clause structure mainly affects early stages of processing, whereas the two principles operating at the discourse level are more important during later stages and for reading times of the entire sentence. Event order was found to operate relatively independently of the other principles. Givenness was found to overrule clause structure, a phenomenon that can be related to the grounding function of preposed subordinate clauses. We propose a new principle to reflect this interaction effect: the grounding principle.
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This study provides a meta-analysis of the correlational literature on measures of phonological awareness, rapid naming, reading, and related abilities. Correlations (N = 2,257) were corrected for sample size, restriction in range, and attenuation from 49 independent samples. Correlations between phonological awareness (PA) and rapid naming (RAN) were low (.38) and loaded on different factors. PA and RAN were moderately correlated with real-word reading (.48 and .46, respectively). Other findings were that (a) real-word reading was correlated best (r values were .60 to .80) with spelling and pseudoword reading, but correlations with RAN, PA, vocabulary, orthography, IQ, and memory measures were in the low-to-moderate range (.37 to .43); and (b) correlations between reading and RAN/PA varied minimally across age groups but were weaker in poor readers than in skilled readers. The results suggested that the importance of RAN and PA measures in accounting for reading performance has been overstated.
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Comparisons of reading measures from a sample of 361 children aged 7.5 to 9.5, including many with reading difficulties, showed high correlations between word reading and nonword reading, and between each of these abilities and reading comprehension. These results, together with other findings from these children, showed that skill in word identification was almost inseparable from the phonologically analytic decoding process that is tapped by nonword reading, and, correspondingly, differences in reading comprehension were closely associated with differences in decoding skill. The findings support the conclusion that bottom-up skills largely drive the reading process in this age group. Only a small number of children departed from the norm in showing better reading comprehension than would be expected from their decoding skills, and those with the opposite discrepancy accounted for even fewer.
Chapter
Introduction: Simple Ideas about Reading Comprehension. A Framework for Comprehension. Higher-Level Factors in Comprehension. The Linguistic-Conceptual Machinery for Comprehension. Word Identification, Decoding, and Phonological Awareness .Comprehension Instruction. Conclusion: A More General View of Comprehension Development
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This paper reports two experiments which focus on the object naming deficits of dyslexic readers. In Experiment 1, dyslexic and normal readers were asked to name objects depicted by pictures or following their spoken definition. Ten-year-old dyslexics named fewer objects correctly than other children of a similar age, performing only as well as a younger group of 8-year-old normal readers. This was true irrespective of the modality through which they were tested. In terms of naming latency, however, they were similar to comparison groups. In Experiment 2, nine-year-old dyslexic and normal readers performed as well as each other in a receptive vocabulary test in which pictures had to be matched to spoken words. However, once again, on a picture naming test, the dyslexics did less well than controls. We argue that dyslexic children are subject to verbal naming difficulties which cannot be accounted for by generally low levels of vocabulary knowledge. Their problems are attributable not to difficulties in semantic representation but to difficulties with the lexical-phonological representation of spoken words they know. We propose that, in turn, these difficulties are related to their memory and reading problems.
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Children with specific reading comprehension difficulties were compared with control children on tests of language skill. The two groups performed at a similar level on tests requiring predominantly phonological skills, but the poor comprehenders performed less well on tests tapping semantic ability. Although the two groups were matched for decoding ability (as assessed by nonword reading), the poor comprehenders were worse at reading words with irregular spelling patterns and low-frequency words. These results show that despite having adequate phonological decoding skills, poor comprehenders have problems reading words that are typically read with support from semantics. These findings are related to connectionist models of reading development in which phonological and semantic processes interact.