ArticlePDF Available

Children’s reading difficulties, language, and reflections on the simple view of reading

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Reading comprehension is a complex task which depends on a range of cognitive and linguistic processes. According to the Simple View of Reading, this complexity can be captured as the product of two sets of skills: decoding and linguistic comprehension. The Simple View explains variance in reading comprehension and provides a good framework to guide the classification of reading disorders. This paper discusses how weaknesses in either or both of components of the Simple View are implicated in children’s reading comprehension difficulties. It concludes with reflections on the strengths and limitations of the Simple View as a theoretical and practical framework to guide our understanding of reading comprehension and its development.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rald20
Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties
ISSN: 1940-4158 (Print) 1940-4166 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rald20
Children’s reading difficulties, language, and
reflections on the simple view of reading
Kate Nation
To cite this article: Kate Nation (2019) Children’s reading difficulties, language, and reflections
on the simple view of reading, Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 24:1, 47-73, DOI:
10.1080/19404158.2019.1609272
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/19404158.2019.1609272
© 2019 Learning Difficulties Australia
Published online: 25 Apr 2019.
Submit your article to this journal
Article views: 175
View Crossmark data
Citing articles: 1 View citing articles
LEARNING DIFFICULTIES AUSTRALIA EMINENT
RESEARCH AWARD WINNER 2018
Childrens reading diculties, language, and reections on
the simple view of reading
Kate Nation
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
ABSTRACT
Reading comprehension is a complex task which depends on
a range of cognitive and linguistic processes. According to the
Simple View of Reading, this complexity can be captured as the
product of two sets of skills: decoding and linguistic comprehen-
sion. The Simple View explains variance in reading comprehension
and provides a good framework to guide the classication of read-
ing disorders. This paper discusses how weaknesses in either or
both of components of the Simple View are implicated in childrens
reading comprehension diculties. It concludes with reections on
the strengths and limitations of the Simple View as a theoretical and
practical framework to guide our understanding of reading com-
prehension and its development.
The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension: for the reader to reconstruct the mental
world of the writer. As skilled readers, this usually feels pretty eortless and comprehen-
sion ows naturally as we read along. This sense of ease is misleading, however, as it
belies the complexity of what we do as we read, even when a text is simple and
straightforward. A whole range of cognitive and linguistic operations are at play, from
identifying individual words through to making inferences about situations that are not
fully described in the text (Castles, Rastle, & Nation, 2018). This complexity means that
nding a simple answer to questions like how does reading comprehension develop
and why does it sometimes failquickly becomes an impossible task.
Against this complexity, enter the Simple View of Reading. This was rst described by
Gough and Tunmer in 1986, and supported with data in a follow-up paper by Hoover
and Gough (1990). Together, these two papers have been cited over 5000 times in the
academic literature (source: Google Scholar, January 2019) and the inuence of the
Simple View has been building in educational policy and practice (e.g., Rose, 2006). I was
fortunate to begin my career as a post-doc working with Maggie Snowling, employed on
a project inspired by the Simple Viewand from our rst paper onwards (Nation &
Snowling, 1997), it provided the framework within which we set our work. Over 20 years
later, my goal in this paper is to consider the question why do some children nd
reading comprehension dicultfrom the perspective of the Simple View, and by
discussing some of the research it has motivated.
CONTACT Kate Nation kate.nation@psy.ox.ac.uk
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES
2019, VOL. 24, NO. 1, 4773
https://doi.org/10.1080/19404158.2019.1609272
© 2019 Learning Diculties Australia
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly
cited.
I begin by introducing the Simple View of reading and outlining some of the
evidence that supports it. Part II will consider reading comprehension in children who
struggle to read words. In Part III, attention turns to poor comprehenderschildren who
read words adequately but nevertheless have reading comprehension diculties.
Finally, in Part IV, I oer some reections on the Simple View of reading and consider
its many strengths, as well as some limitations.
Part I: introducing the Simple View of reading
What is the Simple View?
Imagine yourself a uent speaker of a foreign language but with no knowledge of its
written form. Reading comprehension would fail as you would have no ability to access
meaning from print. If the text was read to you, however, understanding would follow,
via listening. An alternative scenario is equally easy to imagine. It would be quite
possible for you to learn to assign acceptable pronunciations to words printed in
a foreign language, but this would not mean that you were able to comprehend what
had been written in that language.
The Simple View of reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986; Hoover & Gough, 1990) elegantly
captures the essence of these scenarios by stating that reading comprehension is the product
of two sets of skills, decoding and linguistic comprehension (RC = D x LC, illustrated in Figure 1).
We will return to denitions shortly but for present purposes, decoding can be dened as the
ability to identify words in print and linguistic comprehension as the ability to understand
spoken language. The logical case for the Simple View is clear and compelling: both decoding
and linguistic comprehension are necessary for reading comprehension and neither alone is
sucient. Like a uent speaker of a foreign language who has never seen it written down, if
a child cannot decipher words from print they have no facility to understand written language,
no matter how sophisticated their understanding in the oral domain might be. Similarly, being
able to decipher words brings no guarantee that a child will understand what it is they have
read. The Simple View assumes that once written input is decoded,reading comprehension is
achieved via exactly the same processes used to understand spoken language. If those
processes are absent or not working well, reading comprehension will also fail, even if the
material has been decoded perfectly. The Simple View also states that the relative contribu-
tions of decoding and linguistic comprehension to reading comprehension should change
Figure 1. The Simple View of reading.
48 K. NATION
over time. Early on, reading comprehension is highly constrained by limitations in decoding. As
children get older and decoding skills increase, the correlation between linguistic comprehen-
sion and reading comprehension strengthens. This reects the fact that once a level of
decoding mastery has been achieved, reading comprehension is ultimately constrained by
how well an individual understands spoken language.
It is hard to argue with the underlying principles of the Simple View, or with the evidence
base that now supports it. For example, Lervag, Hulme, and Melby-Lervag (2018)followed
nearly 200 Norwegian children as they learned to read. They measured decoding and
linguistic comprehension in multiple ways to form latent variables to capture each con-
struct. Nearly all of the variation in reading comprehension at 7.5 years was captured by the
two constructs, decoding and linguistic comprehension. Other studies taking a similar
approach have found the same (e.g., Language and Reading Research Consortium
[LARRC] & Chui, 2018; Hjetland et al., 2019; Lonigan, Burgess, & Schatschneider, 2018)and
ndings are robust across alphabetic (Florit & Cain, 2011) and non-alphabetic writing
systems (Ho, Chow, Wong, Waye, & Bishop, 2012). There is also evidence to support the
changing pattern of associations between decoding, linguistic comprehension and reading
comprehension over time, with the correlation between linguistic comprehension and
reading comprehension strengthening, as childrens decoding skills increase (Catts, Adlof,
Hogan, & Weismer, 2005;García&Cain,2014; LARRC, 2015). Taken together, this evidence
base provides overwhelming support for the Simple View, including the principle that it
does not deny the complexity of reading, but asserts that such complexities are restricted
to either of the two components(Hoover & Gough, 1990,p.150).
Dening decoding and linguistic comprehension
What exactly is meant by decodingand linguistic comprehension? Starting with decoding,
this has been operationalised in dierent ways in dierent studies. Some experiments have
compared words and nonwords while others have investigated whether uency is a better
index than accuracy (e.g., Adlof, Catts, & Little, 2006;LARRC,2015). Going back to the original
article, it is clear that Gough and Tunmer (1986) themselves grappled with how best to dene
decoding. They explained that it can refer to the overt sounding-outof a word (sometimes
termed phonological decoding or alphabetic decoding), perhaps as measured by nonword
reading. But, they argued, this is not what good reading comprehension demands. Instead,
comprehension in skilled readers depends on high quality input from a word recognition
system that identies words quickly and precisely (Perfetti, 2008). For the Simple View to
adequately describe skilled reading, decodingneeds to be dened and measured by some-
thing that captures this uency and expertise. At the same time however, this denition does
not work for children at the outset of learning to read as their word recognition system is not
yet in place and reading is far from uent and expert. What needs to be captured by the term
decodingis dependent on the reading level of the individual.
At the heart of this issue is the need to consider learning and development. The
beauty of the Simple View is that it explains variation in a way that is timeless: the
equation RC = D x LC works for beginning readers as it does skilled readers, assuming
the constructs have been measured appropriately. Critically however, the Simple View
does not, on its own, explain how development happenshow children move from
overt and laborious phonological decoding to reading words eortlessly and uently.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 49
For that, we need focussed and precise cognitive models that are developmentally
informed. There is consensus that phonological decoding provides the initial foundation
for learning to read words in English (e.g., Ehri, 2005; Share, 1995). From this starting
point, children gradually accumulate orthographic knowledge via reading experience.
This is a slow process of building expertise through which children harness their powers
of perception, memory and language to learn and to generalise (see Castles et al., 2018).
The Simple View does not explain in detail how any of this is achieved. Nor does it
intend to. Instead it provides a theoretical framework to help us understand variation in
reading comprehension across individuals at any particular time-point. How decoding
is dened and measured needs to reect the appropriate developmental time-point, and
also familiarity with the words being read. Learning is likely to proceed in an item-based
fashion, so that at any point in time a person may be reading some words slowly and
only with great eort, while other words are read rapidly and eciently with less
reliance on phonological decoding (Castles & Nation, 2006; Share, 1995).
Let us now turn to the other component of the Simple View, linguistic comprehension.
This was dened by Hoover and Gough (1990,p.131)asthe ability to take lexical informa-
tion (i.e., semantic information at the word level) and derive sentence and discourse inter-
pretations. At a descriptive level this captures exactly what has to happen for reading (and
language) comprehension to be successful. But how should linguistic comprehension be
measured? A common approach has been to use listening comprehension, typically mea-
sured using a reading comprehension test but one that has been adapted so that children
listen to the text rather than read it themselves. Some studies have argued that another
factor, be it vocabulary, inference-making or working memory, makes a direct contribution
to reading comprehension (e.g., Oakhill & Cain, 2012; Ouellette & Beers, 2010;Tunmer&
Chapman, 2012). A dierent approach has been to construct a latent variable that taps
linguistic comprehension in a broad sense, drawing on multiple indicators. For example,
Hjetland et al. (2019) formed a single factor from measures of vocabulary, grammar, listening
comprehension and verbal working memory. In line with the central tenet of the Simple
View, variations in performance on this latent factor, in combination with variations in
decoding, predicted almost all of the variation in childrens reading comprehension at
7 years of age. There is also good evidence that variation in listening comprehension is itself
a consequence of variation in underlying oral language. Lervåg et al. (2018)assessed
7.5 year-oldsvocabulary, grammar, verbal working memory and inference making skills.
Together, these abilities predicted the childrens listening comprehension.
Drawing across these studies, a strong case can be made that linguistic comprehension is
broadly captured by listening comprehension, that listening comprehension itself sub-
sumes childrens vocabulary, grammar and language processing abilities and that these
abilities (along with decoding) predict reading comprehension (LARRC & Chui, 2018;
Foorman, Petscher, & Herrera, 2018; Hjetland et al., 2019; Lonigan et al., 2018). As per our
discussion of decoding, however, this does not explain how reading comprehension
happens, nor how it develops. Comprehension is not typically a verbatim record of whats
been read, replicating its form and structure. Instead, as people read or listen, they build
a mental model, sometimes called a situation model, culminating in a rich interpretation of
the text that goes beyond what is explicitly stated. The text is the substrate that allows the
reader to pull in relevant information, including, for example, the meanings of words, rules
of syntax, background knowledge and an appreciation of how the world works. This
50 K. NATION
information is then processed to make connections, draw inferences and construct
intended meaning. The Simple View does not tell us how any of this achieved. For that,
once again we need to look to detailed cognitive models. An important lesson from the
extensive literature on reading comprehension is that it is not one thing that can be
measured by a single indicator. Instead, reading comprehension is the product of
a complex set of cognitive and linguistic factors operating across a text (for discussion,
see Castles et al., 2018; Perfetti & Stafura, 2014), in interaction with the nature of the text and
the purpose of the reading situation.
This discussion of denitional issues is not to say that the Simple View is false or
limited as a framework to help us understand variation in reading comprehension. On
the contrary, the Simple View is extraordinarily successful in this regard. When measured
comprehensively and reliably, variations in decoding and linguistic comprehension
capture individual dierences in reading comprehension almost perfectly (Hjetland
et al., 2019); this means that the terms decoding and linguistic comprehension have
utility, if we accept that they denote complex constructs rather than explaining
a particular cognitive process. At the same time, however, to move us beyond capturing
variance to understand how cognitive and linguistic processes happenand why they
might go awry in children with poor reading and language we need to attend to ner
level denitions. In keeping with the principles of the Simple View, I use the terms
decoding and linguistic comprehension in a neutral way throughout this paper as labels
to note things to do with identifying wordsand things to do with understanding
spoken languagerespectively.
Varieties of reading disorder within the Simple View
Gough and Tunmer (1986) used the Simple View to classify dierent types of reading
problems. To illustrate, Figure 2 shows decoding and linguistic comprehension plotted
orthogonally. Individuals can be placed into this multidimensional space according to
their abilities on tasks that tap each of the two constructs.
For children falling in quadrant A, reading comprehension is constrained by poor decoding,
whereas poor linguistic comprehension constrains those in quadrant D. Quadrant C captures
Figure 2. Classifying reading disorders within the Simple View of reading.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 51
children who are poor at both decoding and linguistic comprehension. The logic of the Simple
View is that all three varieties of reading disordertermed dyslexia, hyperlexia and garden-
variety poor reader in the original paperresult in poor reading comprehension but for
dierent reasons. Nomenclature may vary, but theres plenty of evidence for these distinct
reading proles. Itsraretoseementionofgarden-varietypoor readers in the more recent
literature, but children with co-occurring dyslexia and language impairment are typically
plotted in quadrant C (Bishop & Snowling, 2004;Cattsetal.,2005). This quadrant is discussed
in the next section, along with quadrant A (classicdyslexia). Turning to quadrant D, there are
complexities with the term hyperlexia (Nation, 1999). That is not to say that a quadrant
Dreadingprole does not exist. These children are more typically described as poor (or less
skilled) comprehenders. We will return to discuss quadrant D in Part III.
Part II: reading comprehension in children with poor decoding
Reading comprehension tends to be low in children and young people with dyslexia (e.g.,
Ferrer et al., 2015; Shaywitz et al., 1999). This is considered a direct consequence of poor
decoding, and dyslexia is usually associated with quadrant A in the Simple View (e.g., Gough
&Tunmer,1986; Stanovich & Siegal, 1994). Rather surprisingly, however, few studies have
investigated the nature of reading comprehension in dyslexia in much detail. Bruck (1990)
assessed reading comprehension in a group of adults who had a history of developmental
dyslexia. Although the mean performance of the group was low-average (centile score of
41), there was huge variability in performance, with centile scores varying from 6 to 97. This
shows that some children with dyslexia go on to make excellent progress in reading
comprehension while others do not. Comparing those adults with good vs. poor reading
comprehension, Bruck (1990) found no dierences in word or nonword reading. However,
the two groups did dier in vocabulary: poor reading comprehension was associated with
vocabulary decits whereas good reading comprehension was not. This nding can be
accommodated within the Simple View, on the assumption that while all of the participants
had poor decoding, only a subset (those with low vocabulary) also had poor linguistic
comprehension. Arguably, as decoding skills strengthened through development, adults
with good vocabulary (quadrant A) were able to make gains in reading comprehension
whereas those with low vocabulary (quadrant C) did not.
Brucks study tells us that some people with a diagnosis of dyslexia also have broader
language problems. These problems are not unusual, with weaknesses in vocabulary,
grammar and discourse-level processing being seen in many studies (e.g., Catts, Fey,
Tomblin, & Zhang, 2002; McArthur, Hogben, Edwards, Heath, & Mengler, 2000). There has
been a tendency to consider these broader language problems as a consequence of the
decit in phonological processing that underpins dyslexia, or of reading failure itself. For
example, rather than a genuine problem with grammar, poor performance on a test of
complex syntax might be a consequence of a phonological processing bottleneck disrupting
working memory (e.g., Shankweiler et al., 1995). Or, if dyslexic children read less, they have
less opportunity to build vocabulary via reading, such that vocabulary decits emerge over
time (Stanovich, 1986). Although these factors are likely to be at play, it is now abundantly
clear that they are not the whole story. First, in adults with a history of developmental
dyslexia, oral language accounts for direct variance in reading comprehension, even when
decoding and phonological skills are controlled (e.g., Ransby & Swanson, 2003). Stronger
52 K. NATION
evidence comes from family risk studies.These have consistently found that children who go
on to receive a diagnosis of dyslexia in mid-childhood show language diculties as infants
and toddlers, well before reading failure could exert its inuence (for meta-analysis across 21
independent studies and 95 articles, see Snowling & Melby-Lervåg, 2016). These ndings
conrm poor language as a precursor; they also add to the growing evidence base that sees
low language as an important factor within a complex multiple risk model of the disorder
(Snowling & Melby-Lervåg, 2016;Pennington,2006). Such evidence also forces us to consider
the overlap between dyslexia and spoken language diculties, and how best to characterise
the two types of diculty. While a full discussion of this is beyond the scope of this paper (for
further detailed discussion, see Adlof & Hogan, 2018; Bishop & Snowling; 2004; Catts et al.,
2005; Nash, Hulme, Gooch, & Snowling, 2013; Ramus, Marshall, Rosen, & van der Lely, 2013), it
is important to touch on some of this literature where it relates to reading comprehension
outcomes in children with dyslexia.
Some studies following at-risk children have now traced the path from pre-school language
to school-aged reading comprehension. Broadly, these ndings sit comfortably with the
Simple View. Hulme, Nash, Gooch, Lervåg and Snowling (2015) analysed data from the
Wellcome Reading and Language project. This longitudinal study recruited pre-school children
at high risk for poor reading (they had a diagnosis of developmental language disorder, or
were at family risk for dyslexia) and followed them through the primary school years. Hulme
et al. (2015) found that language skills (linguistic comprehension) at 3.5 years made a direct
contribution to reading comprehension at 8.5 years, and an indirect contribution via their
eect on decoding at 5.5 years, which also inuenced reading comprehension at 8.5 years.
Similar ndings were reported by Van Settern et al. (2018) who found that vocabulary in Grade
3 explained a substantial amount of variance in Grade 6 in the Dutch Dyslexia Program,
a longitudinal study following Dutch children at family risk for dyslexia. Snowling, Hayiou-
Thomas, Nash & Hulme (in preparation). categorised children from the Wellcome project into
four groups, based on their decoding and oral language prole at 8 years: pure dyslexia
(quadrant A), pure developmental language disorder (DLD; quadrant D), co-morbid dyslexia
+DLD (quadrant C) or unimpaired (quadrant B). As predicted by the Simple View, all three
impaired groups showed poor reading comprehension at 8 years. Interestingly, when re-
assessed 12 months later, the pure dyslexia group had improved in reading comprehension,
relative to both the DLD and the combined group, although they were still impaired relative to
their typically-developing peers. Finally, the combined group showed the most severe decits
in reading comprehension at both time points, reecting underlying weaknesses in both
decoding and oral language.
Drawing across these at-risk studies, there is clearevidenceinlinewithGoughandTunmers
view that there is a common denominator in every case of dyslexia, a decit which could
stand well as the proximal cause of the disorder. This is an inability to decode(1986,p.8).This
exerts a direct inuence on reading comprehension. Whether there are additional negative
inuences on reading comprehension from linguistic comprehension depends on the status of
achilds oral language. Rather striking is the proportion of children with dyslexia who have
language weaknesses, placing them into quadrant C rather than the traditional home of
dyslexia, quadrant A. For example, of the 50 poor decoders identied by Snowling, Nash,
Gooch, Hayiou-Thomas, and Hulme (2019)at8years,only21hadpuredyslexia; the other 29
also showed signicant levels of language impairment. One might argue that this high gure
reects the nature of the at-risk sample. However, it chimes with other work showing that
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 53
approximately 50% of children with a diagnosis of dyslexia have language weaknesses
measured concurrently in a sample not recruited for family risk (e.g., McArthur et al., 2000). It
seems that when researchers measureorallanguageinchildrenidentied on the basis of
a diagnosis of dyslexia, it is not at all unusual to nd high levels of poor oral language (see also
Adlof & Hogan, 2018).
Given the lack of research investigating reading comprehension in children with poor
decoding, especially from studies that have not recruited on the basis of family risk,
I took the opportunity to look into one of my own longitudinal datasets charting reading
development from pre-school through the school years. The primary aim of the original
project was to identify poor comprehenders and chart their reading and language
development (Nation, Cocksey, Taylor, & Bishop, 2010; see Part III). However, this rich
dataset also provided an opportunity to explore patterns of reading comprehension in
children identied on the basis of poor decoding.
The learning to read longitudinal dataset
This study recruited a large and unselected sample of children on school entry shortly before
their 5
th
birthday, and followed their reading and language development through the
primary school years. Seventeen primary schools serving a socially mixed range of neigh-
bourhoods in Oxfordshire took part in the study. All children beginning these schools at the
start of the study were invited to participate. Informed consent from parents was received for
242 children (141 girls and 108 boys). The children were rst assessed within 3 months of
starting school, corresponding to a mean age of approximately 4 years and 10 months.
Our primary focus here is with data from two time points: when the children rst entered
school (Reception class, Mage = 4.83 years, SD = 0.34, N= 242) and three years later (Year 2
in school, Mage = 7.23 years, SD =0.35;N= 202). To compare proles across language and
literacy tests that had been standardised on dierent populations, raw scores on these tests
were converted to z-scores, using the mean and standard deviation of the entire sample
assessed at each time point; for ease of reference, z-scores were transformed to standard
scores (M=100,SD =15).
Reading skills at 7 years across the entire sample
At this time point, the children completed both the word (Word Reading Eciency) and
nonword (Phonemic Decoding) component of the Test for Word Reading Eciency
(TOWRE; Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1999). This requires children to read aloud as
many words (or nonwords) as possible in 45 s and the number read correctly is
converted to a measure of word (or nonword) reading uency. The Neale Analysis of
Reading Ability-II (NARA-II; Neale, 1997) provided an assessment of text reading. In this
test, children read aloud short passages of text (reading accuracy) and are then asked
questions to assess literal and inferential understanding (reading comprehension).
Finally, the British Ability Scales Word Reading subtest (Elliot, Smith, & McCullouch,
1996) provided an assessment of word reading. This is an untimed test in which children
are presented with single words and asked to read each aloud. As is clear from the data
summarised in Table 1, the correlation between performance across the dierent
measures of reading was high.
54 K. NATION
Levels of reading comprehension in poor decoders at 7 years
Next we turn to those children who were poor at decoding. As discussed earlier, decoding is
dened and measured in dierent ways in dierent studies. Here, children were identied
on the basis of poor performance (standard score below 83) on the TOWRE, averaging
across the two subtests. Thirty-four children were identied; from now on, I refer to these
children as having a reading disorder (RD). Their performance across all reading assessments
is detailed in Table 2. While there is some variation, it is notable that performance is low
across the board, including in reading comprehension. It is also important to note that only
22 of the 34 RD children were able to complete the Neale Analysis: the other 12 struggled
with reading individual words to the extent that testing was abandoned. This means that
the text accuracy and comprehension scores reported in Table 2 underestimate the di-
culties experienced by the RD children; nevertheless, reading comprehension was very poor
with every child scoring below population average.
Oral language skills in children with RD at 7 years
Table 3 summarises the performance of the 34 children on ve dierent measures of oral
language. Expressive vocabulary was measured using the vocabulary subtest from the
Wechsler Abbreviated Intelligence Scales (WASI, Wechsler, 1999). Children were asked to
provide denitions for words supplied by the experimenter. Sentence comprehension
was measured using the Comprehension subtest from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for
Children (WISC, Wechsler, 2003), a test which requires children to answer orally-
presented socially-relevant comprehension questions. Two subtests from the Clinical
Table 1. Correlation between dierent reading measures at 7 years across entire sample, N= 202.
Word Fluency Nonword Fluency Word Reading Text Accuracy Text Comprehension
Word Fluency
a
-
Nonword Fluency
b
.87 -
Word Reading
c
.95 .89 -
Text Accuracy
d
.88 .88 .93 -
Text Comp
d
.79 .80 .83 .87 -
All correlations are statistically signicant, p< .01.
a
TOWRE Sight Word Eciency;
b
TOWRE Phonemic Decoding;
c
BAS word reading;
d
Neale Analysis of Reading Ability.
Table 2. Performance of RD children on reading assessments at 7 years (standard scores derived
from the entire sample, N= 202).
Word Fluency
*a
Nonword Fluency
*b
Word Reading
c
Text Accuracy
d
Text Comprehension
d
N34 34 34 22 22
M75.99 82.54 77.99 78.80 79.95
SD 5.12 3.69 3.44 2.40 2.45
Minimum 67.58 79.15 70.88 74.79 74.13
Maximum 86.60 92.25 84.11 85.53 82.82
*indicates assessment used to select poor readers;
a
TOWRE Sight Word Eciency;
b
TOWRE Phonemic Decoding;
c
BAS word reading;
d
Neale Analysis of Reading Ability.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 55
Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-3
UK
; Semel, Wiig, & Secord, 2000) provided
an estimate of expressive and receptive language skills. Recalling Sentences requires
children to repeat sentences of increasing length and grammatical complexity;
Sentence Structure assesses acquisition of structural rules at the sentence level by asking
children to select a picture that matches the target sentence. Finally, in the Bus Story
(Renfrew, 1991) children listen to a narrative describing events in a picture book. They
then re-tell the story and their responses are analysed. Scores here reect the informa-
tion content of their re-tells.
Averaging across the ve tests produced a mean standard score of 88, right at the
end bottom end of normal range. However, this average hides a substantial amount of
variability. For each test, performance varied from extremely poor to good.
Comparison of pureRD and RD with poor language at 7 years
It is clear that some children with RD at 7 years of age also perform poorly on tasks
tapping oral language: in Simple View terms, they have poor linguistic comprehension
alongside poor decoding. To investigate further, I used Bishop et al.s(2009) methodol-
ogy to classify a child as language impaired if they obtained at least two standard scores
more than 1.33SD below the population mean on the ve oral language measures
described above. Of the 34 children with RD, 13 also met this criterion for language
impairment. The results of this classication exercise are summarised in upper part of
Table 4. For children with reading disorder only, scores were at the population average.
As to be expected, those classied as language impaired obtained scores well below the
normal range.
Despite large dierences in oral language characterising the two subgroups, they
showed an identical pattern of reading achievement across the all the reading tests,
including reading comprehension (see Figure 3).
Table 4 also shows the performance of the two subgroups on three assessments of
phonological ability, namely two assessments of nonword repetition (the Childrens
Nonword Repetition Test, Gathercole et al., 1996 and from the Comprehensive Test of
Phonological Processing [CTOPP]; Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1999) and one measure
of phoneme deletion (also from the CTOPP). Both groups performed below average on
these tests, and there was no dierence in prole or severity across the two groups.
Table 3. Performance of RD children on measures of oral language at 7 years (standard scores
derived from the entire sample, N= 202).
Expressive
Vocabulary
a
Recalling
Sentences
b
Sentence
Structure
b
Narrative
Content
c
Sentence
Comprehension
d
N34 34 34 31 34
M88.34 88.23 83.13 93.31 87.95
SD 13.53 12.40 16.16 16.57 14.75
Minimum 68.02 68.47 41.95 54.14 60.38
Maximum 120.13 128.04 116.8 126.25 113.64
a
WASI Vocabulary;
b
CELF;
c
Bus Story;
d
WISC Comprehension.
56 K. NATION
In summary, children selected as having RD at 7 years of age, dened in terms of
poor performance on word and nonword reading uency, also showed signicant
impairments in reading comprehension (and phonological skills). Over a third of the
group could be classied as having a language impairment, placing them in quad-
rant C rather than quadrant A. Interestingly, having a concomitant language impair-
ment was not associated with more severe reading comprehension diculties.
Despite relative strengths in oral language, reading comprehension was as poor in
the RD-only group as the RD+LI group.
Having identied children with RD at 7 years and classied them on the basis of oral
language at that time point, we now turn to look back at the data from the two
subgroups at school entry. Of interest is the childrens oral language at this time, before
the onset of reading.
Table 4. Comparison of RD children with and without language impairment at 7 years.
RD (N= 21) RD+LI (N= 13)
MSDM SD
Language classication tests
Expressive Vocabulary 95.04 11.22 77.52 9.40
Recalling Sentences 92.06 12.78 82.05 9.16
Sentence Structure 90.74 10.85 70.83 16.02
Narrative Content* 100.81 11.58 81.43 16.68
Sentence Comprehension 95.21 11.75 76.22 11.28
Phonological Skills
Phoneme Deletion 86.29 8.99 82.44 9.85
Nonword Rep: CTPP 87.69 15.39 82.05 11.86
Nonword Rep: CNRep 87.57 15.54 80.65 10.58
*N= 19 and 12.
Figure 3. Mean (SD) standard scores on reading assessments at 7 years.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 57
Looking backwards in time: oral language, phonological skills and emergent
literacy at school entry
The 34 children identied as RD at 7 years were 4.88 years old (SD = 0.37) at the rst
assessment. Oral language was measured using three dierent tests. Expressive voca-
bulary was assessed using the vocabulary subtest from the Wechsler Preschool and
Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI, Wechsler, 2002). Initial items require children to
name pictures but most items involve the child providing denitions for words supplied
by the assessor. Children also completed the Test for Reception of Grammar-2 (TROG-2,
Bishop, 2003). This measures childrens comprehension of sentences, with grammatical
complexity increasing over the test. Sentence comprehension was assessed using the
comprehension subtest from the WISC, as administered at 7 years. Performance is
plotted in Figure 4 for the 34 children identied as RD at 7 years, separated by language
status at 7 years.
Consistent with their later classication, children in the RD+LI group showed sub-
stantially lower levels of oral language at school entry than children in the RD group. As
the children were pre-readers, these language weaknesses cannot be attributed to lack
of language learning via reading. It is notable that the RD-only children obtained mean
language scores of 95, 93 and 93 for vocabulary, receptive grammar and sentence
comprehension respectively. While there was variation within the group, this generally
places the children within normal range, in contrast to those in the RD+LI group (recall
that standard scores were calculated from the entire sample of children who were
assessed at this time point, N= 242). Overall, these ndings point to stability in language
skills, with proles at school entry mirroring those seen three years later.
Five tests provided an assessment of the childrens phonological skills at school entry.
Phonological awareness was measured using two subtests from the CTOPP (Wagner et al.,
1999): Phoneme Elision, in which children delete an initial or nal phoneme from orally
Figure 4. Mean (SD) standard scores on oral language measures at 5 years, as a function of reading
and language status at 7 years.
58 K. NATION
presented words, and Sound Matching, where children hear three words and are asked to
select which one starts (orends) with the same sound as a target item. We also administered
Rime Judgement, a task developed by Bird, Bishop, and Freeman (1995) to measure phono-
logical awareness in young children. Children selected from an array of four pictures the one
that rhymed with a target item. Nonword repetition was assessed using the ChildrensTestof
Nonword Repetition (Gathercole & Baddeley, 1996) and the Nonword Repetition subtest
from the CTOPP.
As shown in Figure 5, the two subgroups did not dier in terms of phonological
awareness. It is important to note that performance across the entire sample was quite
low in terms of phoneme deletion and sound-matching, as to be expected given the age of
the children at this time point. As a consequence, the data must be interpreted cautiously.
On the rime task (where performance was stronger across the entire cohort), the RD-only
children scored within normal range, and performed better than the children in the RD+LI
group. This pattern was also evident across both measures of nonword repetition. It is
interesting to note that the RD-only children performed quite well across all measures of
phonological processing at school entry, yet by 7 years of age, they were below normal
range, and performed as poorly as the RD+LI children. This might reect a pattern of
phonological skills becoming more impaired over time, as children with RD benetless
from reciprocal links with reading and alphabetic knowledge (see Nation and Hulme (2011)
for a detailed investigation of this within the same dataset).
Turning to reading, most of the children in the entire sample were unable to read at
the start of the study. There was however a good amount of variation in letter knowl-
edge. Tellingly, given their future diculties with word reading, letter knowledge was
low for the children who were later classied as RD-only and RD+LI (standard scores of
84 and 83 respectively).
Figure 5. Mean (SD) standard scores on phonological measures at 5 years, as a function of reading
and language status at 7 years.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 59
Looking forward in time: reading accuracy and reading comprehension at 8 and
10 years
While it is possible to classify children as RD and RD+LI at 7 years, this is a young age to
be measuring reading comprehension, especially in children with manifestly poor read-
ing at the word level. We had the opportunity to assess reading skills later in time, when
the children were 8 years of age (N= 20 RD and 11 RD+LI) and once again at 10 years of
age (N= 12 RD and 7 RD+LI). Performance on both the reading accuracy and reading
comprehension components of the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability from these two
timepoints are plotted in Figure 6, along with data from 7 years. At no time point is
there any dierence in reading skills between the RD-only and RD+LI subgroups; at
10 years of age, it is clear that the RD-only children are still poor at reading comprehen-
sion, despite their strengths in oral language. Figure 6 indicates some improvements
over time in both groups, but note that this upward trajectory reects only small
dierences in terms of standard score.
Summary and discussion
This exploration of the Learning to Read dataset shows that 7-year-olds with poor
decoding also show impairments in reading comprehension, in line with the principles
of the Simple View. It would be a mistake, however, to infer that reading comprehension
is compromised by poor decoding alone. Approximately one third of the sample showed
poor oral language at 7 years, and these diculties were evident earlier in time, at
school entry. These ndings align with data from family risk studies (Snowling & Melby-
Lervåg , 2016) and reinforce the need to consider childrens language skills as well as
their decoding ability.
A number of implications follow for both research and educational practice. For
research, there is a pressing need to look beyond standardised scores on an o-the-
shelf test of reading comprehension to consider the nature of reading comprehension in
children with poor decoding. It is surprising that few studies have looked at reading
Figure 6. Mean standard scores of Neale Analysis (accuracy and comprehension) scores over time, as
a function of reading and language status at 7 years.
60 K. NATION
comprehension itself in dyslexia. It would be interesting to vary question type, or use
methods such as eye tracking to investigate factors such as inference-making while
reading. Such experiments could address whether there are systematic dierences in RD
children with and without concomitant oral language weaknesses. Longitudinal data are
also needed to help us to understand which children make progress in reading com-
prehension, and how.
The consistent nding that a substantial proportion of children identied on the basis
of poor decoding have co-occurring language problems highlights the need to assess
broader language skills in poor readers, and for intervention approaches to target
language as well as decoding. Du, Fieldsend, Bowyer-Crane, Hulme, Smith, Gibbs and
Snowling (2008) identied a subgroup of poor readers who had not responded to an
intensive intervention programme targeting reading and phonology. As a group, these
children showed low language. Their expressive vocabulary was at the 5
th
centile, and
their performance on tests of grammatical skill corresponded to the 5.5 year old level
yet they were nearly 8 years old. In contrast, poor decoders who had responded well to
the reading and phonology programme in previous studies achieved normal-for-age
vocabulary scores. These observations suggest that co-occurring language diculties
place children at risk of being treatment resistors, meaning more intensive and
specialist provision is required, extending to rich oral language intervention as well as
instruction in decoding (see Duet al., 2014; Fricke, Bowyer-Crane, Haley, Hulme, &
Snowling, 2013). Extending these research ndings to educational practice can be
facilitated by collaborations between teachers and speech and language pathologists
(Adlof & Hogan, 2018; Snow, 2019).
Part III: poor comprehenders
Having reviewed poor decoding as a source of reading comprehension diculty, we
now turn our attention to quadrant D. Poor comprehenders were rst described in the
scientic literature by Oakhill (1982;1983;1984) who used the Neale Analysis of Reading
Ability to identify children who appear to have circumscribed diculties with reading
comprehension. In this test, children read aloud short passages of text (generating
a score for reading accuracy) and then answer questions to assess their literal and
inferential understanding of the text, generating a score for reading comprehension.
Oakhill (1982) identied 78 year olds who were disproportionality poor at reading
comprehension, despite age-appropriate reading accuracy. Looking across the experi-
mental literature since Oakhills original work, studies have used dierent selection
criteria. This makes precise prevalence hard to estimate. Perhaps the most reliable
estimates come from nationally representative and large samples in the UK, extracted
from the data used in the standardisation of the York Assessment of Reading for
Comprehension (Snowling et al., 2009; Stothard, Hulme, Clarke, Barmby, & Snowling,
2010). In the primary school sample, 5.3% of children with age-appropriate levels of
word reading ability obtained reading comprehension standard scores below 77.5
(equating to more than 1.5 SDs below average for their age); in the secondary school
sample, the gure was 5%. Thus, poor comprehenders of this severity exist and this
prole of reading diculty is not rare.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 61
As reviewed earlier, according to the Simple View, reading comprehension is the
product of decoding and linguistic comprehension. It follows from this that children
identied as poor comprehenders must have decits either in decoding, linguistic
comprehension, or both. This logic forces the conclusion that reading comprehension
decits cannot be specic, but instead must be related to weaknesses in one or both of
its component parts. For the children described above as having specicreading
comprehension impairments, which component is at fault?
As is to be anticipated given the selection methods used to identify poor comprehen-
ders, weak decoding is an unlikely explanation for the patterns of poor reading compre-
hension identied by Oakhill in her early studies. Subsequent research has bolstered this
conclusion. It is not the case that poor comprehenders have accurate-but-slow reading,
indicative of subtle decoding problems that cause a bottleneck and disrupt reading
comprehension: it is perfectly possible to identify poor comprehenders who have good
reading uency alongside good reading accuracy. For example, Ricketts, Bishop and
Nation (2007) used assessments of word and nonword reading uency (provided by the
TOWRE, Wagner et al., 1999) to identify and match poor comprehenders with control
children. These children were 810 years old. This leaves open the possibility that they
might have had poor decoding earlier in development and this has somehow left a lasting
legacy of less than optimal decoding, which in turn hampers reading comprehension. But
this does not seem to be the case. Reporting on data from the Learning to Read project
introduced in Part II, Nation et al. (2010) identied poor comprehenders in mid-childhood.
They then looked back in the dataset to chart reading development from its initial stages
onwards. Those children who went on to show a poor comprehender prole at 8 years
showed all the hallmarks of good decoding from the outset. They started school with
normal levels of letter knowledge, and throughout development they showed age-
appropriate reading uency for words and nonwords, and text reading too. For children
identied as poor comprehenders then, weaknesses in decoding cannot explain why
reading comprehension is compromised.
Turning to the other component of the Simple View, there is plenty of evidence
demonstrating that poor comprehenders show impairments on tasks that tap linguistic
comprehension. Using a version of the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability where the
children listened to the stories rather than read them, Nation and Snowling (1997)
found that poor comprehenders performed less well than control children. As discussed
earlier, listening comprehension is a broad construct: like reading comprehension itself,
there are many reasons why a child might nd it dicult. Nation et al. (2004) made
a thorough investigation of 89 year-old poor comprehendersoral language skills using
a range of standardised assessments that tapped phonological skills as well as vocabu-
lary, morphosyntax and the understanding of non-literal language. Consistent with
evidence from earlier experiments (Cain, Oakhill, & Bryant, 2000; Nation & Snowling,
1998; Stothard & Hulme, 1995), the poor comprehenders performed as well as their
peers on the phonological tasks. However, on all other tests they performed less well
than the control children as a group, leading Nation et al. to conclude that low language
characterises many (but not all) poor comprehenders. Furthermore, a substantial min-
ority of the sample showed signicant language diculties and met criteria for specic
language impairment (now known as developmental language disorder: Bishop,
Snowling, Thompson, Greenhalgh, 2016).
62 K. NATION
An important question is whether these mild-to-moderate oral language weaknesses
might be a consequence of reading comprehension failure, rather than a precursor. This
is a plausible suggestion. Written language provides many opportunities to support
language development. Once children can read, they have the opportunity to learn new
words via reading (Nagy, Anderson, & Herman, 1987) and to absorb the rich morpholo-
gical cues to meaning that are evident in spelling patterns (Rastle, 2018, Rastle, 2019).
Reading also provides experience with syntactic structures that are quite rare in con-
versation (Montag & McDonald, 2013). If poor comprehenders read less, this could
contribute to oral language decits emerging over time as a consequence of this lack
of input from reading experience.
The Learning to Read Project provided an opportunity to test this hypothesis
directly. Nation et al. (2010) selected poor comprehenders on the basis of their
reading prole at 8 years. Tracing back in the dataset to when the children started
school, the children who went on to be identied as poor comprehenders at 8 years
on the basis of their reading prole showed low oral language at 4.5 years and
throughout the primary school years. Despite these language weaknesses, the poor
comprehenders showed age-appropriate phonological skills, consistent with the view
that relative strengths in phonological ability supported the development of word
reading, but relative weaknesses in other aspects of language contributed to the
childrensdiculties with reading comprehension. Similar ndings have been
reported in other retrospective longitudinal studies (Catts, Adlof, & Weismer, 2006;
Elwér, Keenan, Olson, Byrne & Samuelsson, 2013; Petscher, Justice, & Hogan, in press).
Together, these ndings show that oral language weaknesses precede reading devel-
opment in poor comprehenders, meaning that diculties observed later in develop-
ment are not a straightforward consequence of lack of readingalthough of course,
reciprocal inuences are to be expected.
In summary, the prole of strengths in decoding but relative weaknesses in aspects of
oral language indicates that many poor comprehenders t within quadrant D of the
Simple View. More generally, the oral language prole that characterises poor compre-
henders ts with what we have learned from typical developmentthat oral language
skills are highly associated with listening comprehension (Lervåg et al., 2018; LARRC,
2017), and that variation in oral language and listening comprehension is associated
with later reading comprehension (e.g., Hulme et al., 2015).
I have focused here on poor comprehenderschildren identied on the basis of
their reading prole. The literature on children with DLD (identied on the basis of
primary impairments in oral language) also describes some children whose reading
prole ts within quadrant D. Many DLD children struggle with both decoding and
linguistic comprehension, consistent with a quadrant C reading prole. Some, how-
ever, can decode quite well, but as to be expected given decits in oral language,
reading comprehension tends to be impaired (Catts et al., 2002;Nation&Norbury,
2005;Snowlingetal.,2019). These children are probably overlapping with those
identied as poor comprehendersthat is, when oral language is measured, some
(but not all) poor comprehenders meet criteria for DLD, and when reading is
measured, some (but not all) children with DLD show the same reading prole as
poor comprehenders.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 63
Why does reading comprehension go wrong for poor comprehenders?
The Simple View is helpful in reminding us that reading comprehension has its bases in
language comprehension. Once children can read words adequately, variation in reading
comprehension is strongly associated with variation in language comprehension more
generally. Beyond this truism, however, the Simple View does not provide further
specication as to why comprehension might fail. Reading comprehension is not one
thing; like language comprehension more generally, it is a complex construct, drawing
on a range of cognitive and linguistic capacities (for review, see Castles et al., 2018;
Perfetti & Stafura, 2014). Is it possible to further specify where in this complex set of
processes comprehension breaks down for poor comprehenders?
To address this question, experiments have compared poor comprehenders and
a control group on tasks hypothesised to be relevant to reading comprehension.
These experiments have found that poor comprehenders are less able to make infer-
ences (Cain & Oakhill, 1999), understand words or activate their meanings in context
(Nation & Snowling, 1998,1999), connect ideas in text (Ehrlich & Remond, 1997),
remember verbal information (Hua & Keenan, 2014) and monitor their comprehension
(Oakhill, Hartt, & Samols, 2005). They are also less skilled at learning and remembering
new words and adding to their knowledge (Cain, Oakhill & Elbro, 2003; Ricketts, Bishop,
& Nation, 2008). It is hard to derive conclusions across dierent experiments, not least
because of methodological limitations such as sample size, and variations in age and the
methods used to dene samples. Nevertheless, two observations are noteworthy. First,
there is no magic prolethat captures all children and totally explainstheir poor
comprehension. This reects both the complexity of comprehension and the diculty of
separating one component of comprehension cleanly. As Castles et al. (2018) discuss in
detail, comprehension is not only multifaceted with factors interacting in multiple ways
during the process of reading, it is also complex developmentally, as factors interact and
change over time. Second, common to most of the experiments that nd a poor
comprehender dierence is that the task is within the verbal domain. For example,
Pimperton and Nation (2010) found that poor comprehenders showed more interfer-
ence in working memory, but only for verbal materials; when the task switched to the
visuo-spatial domain, the poor comprehenders were indistinguishable from their peers.
This is consistent with underlying language weaknesses inuencing performance on any
task that places demands on those linguistic resourcesincluding, of course, reading
comprehension. Further research is needed to unpack global constructs such as reading
comprehensionand linguistic comprehension, not least in order to guide eective
teaching and intervention in the classroom.
Assessment and intervention for poor comprehenders
The Simple View has been inuential in highlighting the existence of the poor compre-
hender prole, and the need to identify appropriate approaches to assessment and
intervention. It is clear that the ability to read words accurately and uentlywhile critical
for adequate comprehensionis no guarantee that adequate reading comprehension will
follow. In turn, this means that a thorough assessment of reading should also include
a measure of text comprehension. This is not, however, a straightforward matter. Reading
64 K. NATION
comprehension tests vary. Some are heavily dependent on a childs word reading; others
are so dependent on background knowledge that the questions can be answered quite
well without actually reading the passage (Keenan & Meenan, 2014).Thesametestcan
also tap dierent component skills, depending on the performance level achieved by
a child (Hua & Keenan, 2017). Knowledge eects are impossible to avoidcomprehension
is a reection of our knowledge and for all of us, reading comprehension is more dicult
when topic knowledge is low. The message here is that we need to be mindful of the
nature of the test being used, and appreciate that test performance depends not only on
the childs knowledge and abilities, but also the features of the text (a point that holds for
all children, not just poor comprehenders). The poor comprehender literature also has
implications for the need to assess childrens oral language (beyond phonological skills) as
part of any thorough assessment of reading.
One approach to intervention is to address a particular component of reading
comprehension, for example, vocabulary, inference making, or comprehension monitor-
ing. Such intervention studies have generally been with poor decoders, or children who
nd both word reading and comprehension dicult, rather than with poor comprehen-
ders specically. While gains are made on what has been taught, transfer eects to non-
trained components or on standardised measures of reading comprehension are small
(Elleman, 2017; Elleman, Lindo, Morphy, & Compton, 2009). This is perhaps not surpris-
ing, given the complex nature of reading comprehension, and its dependence on strong
content knowledge. That said, there are excellent examples of promising approaches to
teaching reading comprehension (for review, see Oakhill, Cain, & Elbro, 2014) that could
be developed and trialled for children identied as poor comprehenders.
Adierent approach is to consider the fundamental role of oral language (or
linguistic comprehension, in terms of the Simple View) in reading comprehension and
aim intensive intervention there. Working from the nding that poor comprehenders
have impairments in linguistic comprehension, Clarke, Snowling, Truelove, and Hulme
(2010) developed a language intervention that directly and explicitly worked on
89 year-oldsoral language with direct instruction tapping vocabulary, grammar and
narrative. Using a randomised controlled design, they compared this 20-week interven-
tion with one focussing on text comprehension itself, and a combined approach
targeting both oral language and text comprehension. Intervention was delivered in
small groups by trained teaching assistants, with three 30-minute sessions per week.
Pleasingly, all three groups improved in reading comprehension relative to a waiting list
control group. Those receiving oral language training showed most improvement in
reading comprehension 11 months later, and improvements in reading comprehension
were predicted by improvements in vocabulary. Fricke et al. (2013) used a similar
approach but with materials designed for much younger children. They identied
children with low language at around the time of school entry. Those who received
an intensive language intervention showed improvements in oral language, and got o
to a better start with reading comprehension than children in the control group. These
ndings are encouraging, and support the rationale for improving childrens oral lan-
guage as the basis for bringing about improvements in reading comprehension. Note
however these interventions are intensive, and are designed to be delivered by teaching
assistants who have been specically trainedquick xes are not to be expected.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 65
Part IV: reections on the Simple View
In the 30-plus years since the Simple View was rst articulated by Gough and Tunmer
(1986), its elegance and force in describing the essence of reading comprehension has
become clear. By setting out decoding and linguistic comprehension as separate but
interacting components, it reminds us that reading comprehension requires both the
ability to identify individual words, and the ability to construct meaning from text. When
assessed reliably using comprehensive measures, how good children are at decoding
and linguistic comprehension predicts how good they are at reading comprehension
extraordinarily well. The Simple View provides a framework for classifying reading
diculties, and it has done much to promote our understanding of the relationship
between spoken language and reading development. It is not just children with classic
dyslexiawho need extra support in the classroom: research conducted within the
Simple View framework has shown that a large proportion of children with low word
reading also show poor oral language, as do children with reading comprehension
impairments. These research ndings have important implications for assessment and
intervention and it is a positive development to see materials written for practitioners
framed within the Simple View (e.g. Stuart & Stainthorp, 2015).
Despite these strengths, the Simple View has led to some false impressions. As noted
earlier, the Simple View does not deny the complexity of reading, but asserts that such
complexities are restricted to either of the two components, linguistic comprehension
and decoding (Hoover & Gough, 1990, p. 150). Nevertheless, Catts (2018) discusses how
visualisations of the Simple Viewdiagrams like Figure 1, with the two components
appearing to be the same sizehave inadvertently camouaged the complexity of
reading comprehension and in doing, created false impressions about its malleability,
and the extent to which it can be captured by a score on an omnibus test. These
concerns intersect with some of our earlier discussionthat the Simple View is not
a model of what needs to develop to bring about change in either of the two
components. In terms of partitioning and explaining variance, it is clear that the relative
weighting of the two constructs changes over time, with linguistic comprehension
becoming more closely associated with reading comprehension as decoding skills
strengthen (e.g., Language and Reading Research Consortium, 2015). Early on, the
decoding component predominates, but beyond the early stages of learning to read,
the linguistic comprehension oval in diagrams like Figure 1 needs to be much bigger,
and have more indicators feeding into it, reecting its multifaceted nature.
Another false impression is that the two components are entirely separable. A good deal
of variation in reading comprehension is shared between the two components. Lonigan
et al. (2018) suggested that this common variance might be related to some underlying
general cognitive linguistic ability, and in their analyses, shared variance predicted dier-
ences in reading comprehension beyond the unique variance associated with each compo-
nent. Consistent with this, longitudinal data have shown that some factors predict multiple
components of reading. As noted earlier for example, Hulme et al. (2015) found that
language skills at 3.5 years contributed to decoding at 5.5 years as well as reading
comprehension at 8.5 years. Similarly, there is no doubt that oral vocabulary is a vital
component of linguistic comprehension, nor that it is closely associated with reading
comprehension. This does not mean it is irrelevant for word reading. On the contrary,
66 K. NATION
vocabulary is also associated with word reading, both in typical development and atypical
development (e.g., Nation & Snowling, 1998; Taylor, Du, Woollams, Monaghan, & Ricketts,
2015). Consider too the importance of morphology. Numerous studies have found associa-
tions between childrens reading comprehension and their knowledge and appreciation of
morphology (e.g., Levesque, Kieer, & Deacon, 2019; Tong, Deacon, Kirby, Cain, & Parrila,
2011), consistent with morphology being a critical component of linguistic comprehension.
At the same time, however, skilled word recognition is highly sensitive to morphological
regularities that are marked in the orthography, reminding us that English is
a morphophonemic in nature (Rastle, 2019; Venezky, 1999). As reading develops, the
word recognition system comes to embody this structure and this is reected in how single
words are read and processed (e.g., Dawson, Rastle, & Ricketts, 2018; Kearns & Al Ghanem, in
press). Thus, morphological knowledge is not onlypart of linguistic comprehension. It is also
core to word recognition and its developmentthat is, what is captured within the Simple
View as decoding.
What are the implications of these ndings for the Simple View? To take development
on board, it might be that our visual representation needs to be more complex, with
some underlying language factor feeding into both components, and/or bi-directional
connections between decoding and linguistic comprehension, as shown in Figure 7.
This gure also shows feedback arrows from reading comprehension into language.
This is to remind us of the importance of reading experience. It is the substrate from
which basic decoding skills develop and automatise (see Castles et al., 2018). It also
provides rich and varied opportunities for language learning, as children encounter new
vocabulary and new syntactic structures via reading (Montag & MacDonald, 2015;
Montag, Jones, & Smith, 2015). The implication of this for children with reading dicul-
ties is neatly captured by Stanovichs(1986) description of the Matthew eectthe
richer get richer and the poor get poorer. Low levels of spoken language set the scene
for reading diculties, which in turn lead to greater dierences in spoken language,
relative to peers who read well. Or, in the words of Snow (2016), language is literacy is
language.
The Simple View provides a useful framework for thinking about reading comprehen-
sion and its development. It positions decoding as central to learning to read and
reminds us that no amount of oral language prowess can bring about successful
Figure 7. An expanded view of the Simple View of reading.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 67
reading, if a child has not learned the principles of how their writing system works. This
is what learning to read is about, and what needs to be taught at the outset. Getting
better at reading words, and developing all that is needed to serve reading comprehen-
sion in all its innite varieties, obviously demands more than decent decoding: the
knowledge and processing skills nested within linguistic comprehension are fundamen-
tal. There is no doubt that the Simple View explains variance in reading comprehension.
But we also need to look beyond the Simple View, if we are to understand more about
how subcomponent processes work and develop, and how they can be optimised in the
classroom and the clinic by well-designed reading and language instruction.
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank Learning Diculties Australia for the opportunity to discuss some of the work
described in this paper in person. Its content has been shaped by the many interesting and lively
discussions that ensued. Particular thanks to Anne Castles, Robyn Wheldall, Kevin Wheldall and
Bartek Rajkowski for their wisdom and generous hospitality, and to Pye Twaddell, Tanya Serry and
members of the LDA Committee for making it all possible. Thanks too to my collaborators on the
Learning to Read Project: Dorothy Bishop, Joanne Cocksey, Jo Taylor and Philip Angell, to Anne
Castles, Nicola Dawson, Tiany Hogan, Tanya Serry and Maggie Snowling for constructive feed-
back, and Alexander Wilson for editorial assistance. This research was supported by the Economic
and Social Research Council, grants ES/M009998/1 and RES-000-23-0581.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author.
Funding
This research was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, grants ES/M009998/1
and RES-000-23-0581.
References
Adlof, S. M., Catts, H. W., & Little, T. D. (2006). Should the simple view of reading include a uency
component? Reading and Writing,19(9), 933958.
Adlof, S. M., & Hoggan, T. P. (2018). Understanding dyslexia in the context of Developmental
Language Impairemnt. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools,49(5), 762773.
Bird, J., Bishop, D. V. M., & Freeman, N. H. (1995). Phonological awareness and literacy development
in children with expressive phonological impairments. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research,
38(2), 446462.
Bishop, D. V. M. (2003). Test for Reception of Grammar-2. Pearson: London.
Bishop, D. V. M., McDonald, D., Bird, S., & Hayiou-Thomas, M. E. (2009). Children who read words
accurately despite language impairment: Who are they and how do they do it? Child
Development,80(2), 593605.
Bishop, D. V. M., & Snowling, M. J. (2004). Developmental dyslexia and specic language impair-
ment: Same or dierent? Psychological Bulletin,130(6), 858886.
Bishop, D. V. M., Snowling, M. J., Thompson, P. A., Greenhalgh, T., & Consortium, C. (2016).
CATALISE: A multinational and multidisciplinary delphi consensus study. identifying language
impairments in children (vol 11, e0158753, 2016). PloS one,11, 12.
68 K. NATION
Bruck, M. (1990). Word-recognition skills of adults with childhood diagnoses of dyslexia.
Developmental Psychology,26(3), 439454.
Cain, K., Oakhill, J., & Bryant, P. (2000). Phonological skills and comprehension failure: A test of the
phonological processing decit hypothesis. Reading and Writing,13(12), 3156.
Cain, K., & Oakhill, J. V. (1999). Inference making ability and its relation to comprehension failure in
young children. Reading and Writing,11(56), 489503.
Cain, K., Oakhill, J. V., & Elbro, C. (2003). The ability to learn new words meanings from context by
school-age children with and without language comprehension diculties. Journal of Child
Language,30(3), 681694.
Castles, A., & Nation, K. (2006). How does orthographic learning happen? In S. Andrews (Ed.), From
inkmarks to ideas: Challenges and controversies about word recognition and reading (pp.
151179). New York: Psychology Press.
Castles, A., Rastle, K., & Nation, K. (2018). Ending the reading wars: Reading acquisition from novice
to expert. Psychological Science in the Public Interest,19(1), 551.
Catts, H. W. (2018). The simple view of reading: Advancements and false impressions. Remedial and
Special Education,39(5), 317323.
Catts, H. W., Adlof, S. M., Hogan, T. P., & Weismer, S. E. (2005). Are specic language impairment
and dyslexia distinct disorders? Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research,48(6),
13781396.
Catts, H. W., Adlof, S. M., & Weismer, S. E. (2006). Language decits in poor comprehenders: A case for
the simple view of reading. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research,49(2), 278293.
Catts, H. W., Fey, M. E., Tomblin, J. B., & Zhang, X. Y. (2002). A longitudinal investigation of reading
outcomes in children with language impairments. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing
Research,45(6), 11421157.
Language and Reading Research Consortium; Chui, Y. D. (2018). The simple view of reading across
development: The prediction of grade 3 reading comprehension by prekindergarten skills.
Remedial and Special Education,395, 289303.
Clarke, P. J., Snowling, M. J., Truelove, E., & Hulme, C. (2010). Ameliorating childrens reading-
comprehension diculties:Arandomizedcontrolledtrial.Psychological Science,21(8), 11061116.
Dawson, N., Rastle, K., & Ricketts, J. (2018). Morphological eects in visual word recognition:
Children, adolescents, and adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology-Learning Memory and
Cognition,44(4), 645654.
Du, F. J., Fieldsend, E., Bowyer-Crane, C., Hulme, C., Smith, G., Gibbs, S., et al. (2008). Reading with
vocabulary intervention: Evaluation of an instruction for children with poor response to reading
intervention. Journal of Research in Reading,31(3), 319336.
Du, F. J., Hulme, C., Grainger, K., Hardwick, S. J., Miles, J. N. V., & Snowling, M. J. (2014). Reading
and language intervention for children at risk of dyslexia: A randomised controlled trial. Journal
of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,55(11), 12341243.
Ehri, L. C. (2005). Learning to read words: Theory, ndings, and issues. Scientic Studies of Reading,
9(2), 167188.
Ehrlich, M. F., & Remond, M. (1997). Skilled and less skilled comprehenders: French childrens
processing of anaphoric devices in written texts. British Journal of Developmental Psychology,15,
291308.
Elleman, A. M. (2017). Examining the impact of inference instruction on the literal and inferential
comprehension of skilled and less skilled readers: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Educational
Psychology,109(6), 761781.
Elleman, A. M., Lindo, E. J., Morphy, P., & Compton, D. L. (2009). The impact of vocabulary
instruction on passage-level comprehension of school-age children: A meta-analysis. Journal
of Research on Educational Eectiveness,2,144.
Elliott, C. D. (1996). The British ability scales II. Windsor, Berkshire: NFER-NELSON Publishing
Company.
Elwér, s., Keenan, J. M., Olson, R.K., Byrne, B. & Samuelsson, S. (2013). Longitudinal stability and
predictors of poor oral comprehenders and poor decoders. Journal of Experimental Child
Psychology, 115, 497516.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 69
Ferrer, E., Shaywitz, B. A., Holahan, J. M., Marchione, K. E., Michaels, R., & Shaywitz, S. E. (2015).
Achievement gap in reading is present as early as rst grade and persists through adolescence.
Journal of Pediatrics,167(5), 1121-+.
Florit, E., & Cain, K. (2011). The simple view of reading: is it valid for dierent types of alphabetic
orthographies? Educational Psychology Review,23(4), 553576.
Foorman, B. R., Petscher, Y., & Herrera, S. (2018). Unique and common eects of decoding and
language factors in predicting reading comprehension in grades 1-10. Learning and Individual
Dierences,63,1223.
Fricke, S., Bowyer-Crane, C., Haley, A. J., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. J. (2013). Ecacy of language
intervention in the early years. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,54(3), 280290.
Garcia, J. R., & Cain, K. (2014). Decoding and reading comprehension: A meta-analysis to identify
which reader and assessment characteristics inuence the strength of the relationship in
English. Review of Educational Research,84(1), 74111.
Gathercole, S. E., & Baddeley, A. (1996). Childrens test of nonword repetition. London, UK: Pearson.
Gough, P. B., & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and
Special Education,7,610.
Hjetland, H. N., Lervåg, A., Lyster, S.-A. H., Hagtvet, B. E., Hulme, C., & Melby-Lervåg, M. (2019).
Pathways to reading comprehension: A longitudinal study from 4 to 9 years of age. Journal of
Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/edu0000321
Ho, C. S. H., Chow, B. W. Y., Wong, S. W. L., Waye, M. M. Y., & Bishop, D. V. M. (2012). The genetic
and environmental foundation of the simple view of reading in chinese. PloS one,7(10).
Hoover, W. A., & Gough, P. B. (1990). The simple view of reading. Reading and Writing,2(2),
127160.
Hua, A. N., & Keenan, J. M. (2014). The role of text memory in inferencing and in comprehension
decits. Scientic Studies of Reading,18(6), 415431.
Hua, A. N., & Keenan, J. M. (2017). Interpreting reading comprehension test results: Quantile
regression shows that explanatory factors can vary with performance level. Scientic Studies of
Reading,21(3), 225238.
Hulme, C., Nash, H. M., Gooch, D., Lervag, A., & Snowling, M. J. (2015). The foundations of literacy
development in children at familial risk of dyslexia. Psychological Science,26(12), 18771886.
Kearns, D., & Al Ghanem, R. (in press). The role of semantic information in childrens word reading:
Does meaning aect readersability to say polysyllabic words aloud? Journal of Educational
Psychology. doi:10.1037/edu0000316
Keenan, J. M., & Meenan, C. E. (2014). Test dierences in diagnosing reading comprehension
decits. Journal of Learning Disabilities,47(2), 125135.
Language and Reading Research Consortium. (2015). Learning to Read: Should we keep things
simple? Reading Research Quarterly,50(2), 151169.
Language and Reading Research Consortium. (2017). Oral language and listening comprehension:
Same or dierent constructs? Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research,60(5),
12731284.
Lervag, A., Hulme, C., & Melby-Lervag, M. (2018). Unpicking the developmental relationship
between oral language skills and reading comprehension: Its simple, but complex. Child
Development,89(5), 18211838.
Levesque, K. C., Kieer, M. J., & Deacon, S. H. (2019). inferring meaning from meaningful parts: The
contributions of morphological skills to the development of childrens reading comprehension.
Reading Research Quarterly,54(1), 6380.
Lonigan, C. J., Burgess, S. R., & Schatschneider, C. (2018). Examining the simple view of reading
with elementary school children: Still simple after all these years. Remedial and Special
Education,39(5), 260273.
McArthur, G. M., Hogben, J. H., Edwards, V. T., Heath, S. M., & Mengler, E. D. (2000). On the
specicsof specic reading disability and specic language impairment. Journal of Child
Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines,41(7), 869874.
Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N., & Smith, L. B. (2015). The words children hear: Picture books and the
statistics for language learning. Psychological Science,26(9), 14891496.
70 K. NATION
Montag, J. L., & MacDonald, M. C. (2015). Text exposure predicts spoken production of complex
sentences in 8-and 12-year-old children and adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology-General,
144(2), 447468.
Nagy, W. E., Anderson, R. C., & Herman, P. A. (1987). Learning word meanings from context during
normal reading. American Educational Research Journal,24(2), 237270.
Nash, H. M., Hulme, C., Gooch, D., & Snowling, M. J. (2013). Preschool language proles of children
at family risk of dyslexia: Continuities with specic language impairment. Journal of Child
Psychology and Psychiatry,54(9), 958968.
Nation, K. (1999). Reading skills in hyperlexia: A developmental perspective. Psychological Bulletin,
125(3), 338355.
Nation, K., Clarke, P., Marshall, C. M, & Durand, M. (2004). Hidden language impairments in
children. Parallels between Poor Reading Comprehension and Specic Language Impairment?
Journal of Speech, Hearing and Language Research,47, 199211.
Nation, K., Cocksey, J., Taylor, J. S. H., & Bishop, D. V. M. (2010). A longitudinal investigation of early
reading and language skills in children with poor reading comprehension. Journal of Child
Psychology and Psychiatry,51(9), 10311039.
Nation, K., & Hulme, C. (2011). Learning to read changes childrens phonological skills: Evidence
from a latent variable longitudinal study of reading and nonword repetition. Developmental
Science,14(4), 649659.
Nation, K., & Norbury, C. F. (2005). Why reading comprehension fails - Insights from developmental
disorders. Topics in Language Disorders,25(1), 2132.
Nation, K., & Snowling, M. (1997). Assessing reading diculties: The validity and utility of current
measures of reading skill. British Journal of Educational Psychology,67, 359370.
Nation, K., & Snowling, M. (1998). Semantic processing and the development of word-recognition
skills: Evidence from children with reading comprehension diculties. Journal of Memory and
Language,39(1), 85101.
Nation, K., & Snowling, M. (1999). Developmental dierences in sensitivity to semantic relations among
good and poor comprehenders: Evidence from semantic priming. Cognition,70(1), B1B13.
Neale, M. D. (1997). Neale Analysis of Reading AbilityRevised (NARA-II). Windsor, UK: NFER.
Oakhill, J. (1982). Constructive processes in skilled and less skilled comprehenders memory for
sentences. British Journal of Psychology,73(FEB), 1320.
Oakhill, J. (1983). Instantiation in skilled and less skilled comprehenders. Quarterly Journal of
Experimental Psychology Section a-Human Experimental Psychology,35(AUG), 441450.
Oakhill, J., Cain, K., & Elbro, C. (2014). Understanding and teaching reading comprehension:
A handbook. Abingdon: Routledge.
Oakhill, J., Hartt, J., & Samols, D. (2005). Levels of comprehension monitoring and working memory
in good and poor comprehenders. Reading and Writing,18, 657686.
Oakhill, J. V. (1984). Inferential and memory skills in children's comprehension of stories. British
Journal of Educational Psychology,54,3139.
Oakhill, J. V., & Cain, K. (2012). The precursors of reading ability in young readers: Evidence from a
four-year longitudinal study. Scientic Studies of Reading,16(2), 91121.
Ouellette, G., & Beers, A. (2010). A not-so-simple view of reading: How oral vocabulary and
visual-word recognition complicate the story. Reading and Writing,23(2), 189208.
Pennington, B. F. (2006). From single to multiple decit models of developmental disorders.
Cognition,101(2), 385413.
Perfetti, C. (2008). Reading ability: Lexical quality to comprehension (vol 11, pg 357, 2007).
Scientic Studies of Reading,12(1), 130.
Perfetti, C., & Stafura, J. (2014). Word knowledge in a theory of reading comprehension. Scientic
Studies of Reading,18(1), 2237.
Petscher, Y., Justice, L., & Hogan, T. P. (in press). Modeling the early language trajectory of
language development and its relation to poor reading comprehension. Child Development.
doi:10.1111/cdev.12880
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 71
Pimperton, H., & Nation, K. (2010). Suppressing irrelevant information from working memory:
Evidence for domain-specicdecits in poor comprehenders. Journal of Memory and
Language,62(4), 380391.
Ramus, F., Marshall, C. R., Rosen, S., & van der Lely, H. K. J. (2013). Phonological decits in specic
language impairment and developmental dyslexia: Towards a multidimensional model. Brain,
136, 630645.
Ransby, M. J., & Swanson, H. L. (2003). Reading comprehension skills of young adults with child-
hood diagnoses of dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities,36(6), 538555.
Rastle, K. (2018). The place of morphology in learning to read in english. Cortex,110. doi: 10.1016/
j.cortex.2018.02.008
Rastle, K. (2019). Writing systems, reading, and language. Quarterly Journal of Experimental
Psychology. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1177/1747021819829696
Renfrew, C. (1991). The renfrew bus story. Oxford: Speechmark Publishing Ltd.
Ricketts, J., Bishop, D. V. M., & Nation, K. (2008). Investigating orthographic and semantic aspects of
word learning in poor comprehenders. Journal of Research in Reading,31(1), 117135.
Ricketts, J., Nation, K., & Bishop, D. V. M. (2007). Vocabulary is important for some, but not all
reading skills. Scientic Studies of Reading,11(3), 235257.
Rose, J. (2006). Independent review of the teaching of early reading nal report. U.K. Department for
Education and Skills. Retrieved from http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/5551/2/report.pdf
Semel, E., Wiig, E. H., & Secord, W. A. (2000). Clinical evaluation of language fundamentals. London:
Psychological Corporation.
Shankweiler, D., Crain, S., Katz, L., Fowler, A. E., Liberman, A. M., Brady, S. A., et al. (1995). Cognitive
proles of reading-disabled children - comparison of language-skills in phonology, morphology,
and syntax. Psychological Science,6(3), 149156.
Share, D. L. (1995). Phonological recoding and self-teaching: Sine qua non of reading acquisition.
Cognition,55(2), 151218.
Shaywitz, S. E., Fletcher, J. M., Holahan, J. M., Shneider, A. E., Marchione, K. E., Stuebing, K. K.,
Francis, D.J., ... Shaywitiz, B. A. (1999). Persistence of dyslexia: The connecticut longitudinal study
at adolescence. Pediatrics,104(6), 13511359.
Snow, P. (2019). Why do speech-language pathologists work in literacy? Retrived from http://
pamelasnow.blogspot.com/2019/01/why-do-speech-language-pathologists.html.
Snow, P. C. (2016). Elizabeth usher memorial lecture: Language is literacy is language - positioning
speech-language pathology in education policy, practice, paradigms and polemics. International
Journal of Speech-Language Pathology,18(3), 216228.
Snowling, M. J., Hayiou-Thomas, E., Nash, H. M., & Hulme, C. (in preparation). Dyslexia and
developmental language disorder: Comorbid disorders with distinct eects on reading comprehen-
sion. University of Oxford.
Snowling, M. J., & Melby-Lervag, M. (2016). Oral language decits in familial dyslexia: A
meta-analysis and review. Psychological Bulletin,142(5), 498545.
Snowling, M. J., Nash, H., Gooch, D. C., Hayiou-Thomas, M. E., & Hulme, C. (2019). Developmental
outcomes for children at high risk of dyslexia and children with developmental language
disorder. Child Development. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13216
Snowling, M. J., Stothard, S. E., Clarke, P., Bowyer-Crane, C., Harrington, A., Truelove, E., Nation, K., ...
Hulme, C. (2009). York assessment of reading for comprehension. London, UK: GL Assessment.
Stanovich, K. E. (1986). Matthew eects in reading - some consequences of individual-dierences
in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly,21(4), 360407.
Stanovich, K. E., & Siegel, L. S. (1994). Phenotypic performance prole of children with reading
disabilities - a regression-based test of the phonological-core variable-dierence model. Journal
of Educational Psychology,86(1), 2453.
Stothard, S. E., & Hulme, C. (1995). A comparison of phonological skills in children with
reading-comprehension diculties and children with decoding diculties. Journal of Child
Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines,36(3), 399408.
Stothard, S. E., Hulme, C., Clarke, P., Barmby, P., & Snowling, M. J. (2010). York assessment of reading
for comprehension. Secondary test. London, UK: GL Assessment.
72 K. NATION
Stuart, M., & Stainthorp, R. (2015). Reading development and teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Taylor, J. S. H., Du, F. J., Woollams, A. M., Monaghan, P., & Ricketts, J. (2015). How word meaning
inuences word reading. Current Directions in Psychological Science,24(4), 322328.
Tong, X. L., Deacon, S. H., Kirby, J. R., Cain, K., & Parrila, R. (2011). Morphological awareness: A key to
understanding poor reading comprehension in English. Journal of Educational Psychology,103
(3), 523534.
Torgesen, J. K., Wagner, R. K., & Rashotte, C. A. (1999). Test of word reading eciency. Austin, TX:
Pro-Ed.
Tunmer, W. E., & Chapman, J. W. (2012). The simple view of reading redux: Vocabulary knowledge
and the independent components hypothesis. Journal of Learning Disabilities,45(5), 453466.
van Setten, E. R. H., Hakvoort, B. E., van der Leij, A., Maurits, N. M., & Maassen, B. A. M. (2018).
Predictors for grade 6 reading in children at familial risk of dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia,68(3),
181202.
Venezky, R. L. (1999). The American way of spelling: The structure and origins of America English.
New York, NY: Guildford Press.
Wagner, R. K., Torgesen, J. K., & Rashotte, C. (1999). Comprehensive test of phonological processing.
Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Wechsler, D. (1999). Wechsler abbreviated scale of intelligence. London, UK: The Psychological
Corporation.
Wechsler, D. (2002). Wechsler preschool and primary scale of intelligence (3rd ed.). London: The
Psychological Corporation.
Wechsler, D. (2003). The wechsler intelligence scale for children (4th ed.). London: The Psychological
Corporation.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEARNING DIFFICULTIES 73
... Skilled readers have good language skills and a rich vocabulary, and therefore find it easy to understand the meaning of the text. Training on these elements is important, but when decoding is achieved, you must read a lot of text and focus on understanding the text you read [26]. Access to diverse texts that suit children's different reading skills must therefore be good [1][2][3]. ...
... The figure also indicates the different emphasis regarding the approach in the reading lesson. Phonics, systematic letter-sound knowledge, is taught in the beginning until the relevant individual has broken the reading code [26]. Then, the children receive training with an emphasis on improving vocabulary and reading comprehension. ...
... The Ignition project (10-year follow-up longitudinal study) builds its approach to teaching reading to beginners on the 'simple view of reading' model [15]. It is supported by the world's leading scholars in this field such as Heikki Lyytinen [30], Kate Nation [26], Maggie Snowling [31] and Stanislas Dehaene [22]. Research has shown that the model explains about 96% of reading skills [32]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this article was to present an important perspective on reading skill development. The perspective ‘READ’ builds on the phonics approach which has been found to be most important in relation to reading achievement i.e., to teach children to break the reading code. In addition, READ builds on theories within learning and skill development. The Ericsson concept of ‘deliberate practice’ refer to baseline measurements that provide a basis for follow-up and deliberate practice. The concept of ‘flow’ is also of great importance where challenges are always in relation to the skills. It means that each child will be able to experience ‘flow’ where mastery is the key word, feeling I CAN! When mastery is experienced, the dopamine hormone gives the feeling of reward. Stimuli, experience, and repetition is also a key word in the ‘training hour’ where children get the possibility to strengthen the neural network that is used for specific skills which are trained. In this respect, the letter-sound knowledge is trained until the child has broken the reading code. The results from the first year in the school in Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland indicates that all the children were able to break the reading code or read simple words. In addition, 96% of the children were able to read sentences, and 88% where able to read text. These promising results are discussed in relation to Ericsson’s and Csikszentmihalyi’s important theories.
... This direction is, of course, plausible during the reading acquisition phase because a certain level of decoding skills is necessary for reading comprehension. It is, however, possible that, once some decoding skills are established, the associations would become reciprocal, with reading fluency being supported by comprehension processes (Nation, 2019). This possibility has not yet been fully explored, because previous longitudinal studies addressing the issue of bidirectionality have typically focused only on the early years of development, when limited decoding skills are likely to form a barrier to or ceiling for the development of reading comprehension (e.g., Lonigan & Burgess, 2017). ...
... components and reading comprehension is bidirectional or unidirectional. In fact, a recent paper (Nation, 2019) suggested an expanded view of the SVR that includes also bidirectional associations between decoding, linguistic comprehension, and reading comprehension. On the one hand, good reading fluency can be presumed to support reading comprehension because well-automatized word reading skills reduce the resource demands of cognitive processes (e.g., memory and attention), which can then be devoted to understanding meaning in text rather than identifying and decoding words (Perfetti, 1985(Perfetti, , 2007. ...
... On the other hand, according to the expanded view of the SVR (Nation, 2019), there are bidirectional associations between decoding, linguistic comprehension, and reading comprehension while according to the direct and indirect effects model of reading (Kim, 2020), text reading fluency and reading comprehension have an interactive or bidirectional relation. In addition, according to the interactive models of reading (Rumelhart, 1977;Stanovich, 1980), reading processes operate in parallel, which could imply bidirectional relationships between fluency and comprehension. ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose This study examines the developmental interplay between silent reading fluency and reading comprehension from Grade 1 to Grade 9 (age 7 to 15) in a large Finnish sample (N = 2,518). Of particular interest was whether the associations are bidirectional or unidirectional. Methods Children’s silent reading fluency and reading comprehension skills were assessed using group-administered tests, at seven time points, in Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9. A random intercept cross-lagged panel model with latent factors was used to identify between- and within-person associations between silent reading fluency and reading comprehension. The use of latent factors allowed for the controlling of measurement error. Results The model showed that silent reading fluency and reading comprehension correlated at the between-person level, indicating that those who were proficient in one reading skill were typically good at the other also. At the within-person level, however, only some developmental associations emerged: in the early reading acquisition phase (Grade 1–2), silent reading fluency predicted reading comprehension, and in adolescence, reading comprehension weakly predicted silent reading fluency (Grade 7–9). Conclusions The results thus suggest only weak developmental within-person associations between silent reading fluency and comprehension, although some unidirectional associations emerged with a change in the direction of the associations over time.
... On the contrary, in less consistent orthographies reading accuracy difficulties may be more protracted and usually accompanied by RFD (Snowling, 2000;Seymour et al., 2003;Ziegler and Goswami, 2005;Share, 2008). However, during the last decades, an increasing number of studies have shown that young readers might present difficulties in reading comprehension despite intact reading accuracy and fluency levels (see Hulme and Snowling, 2014;Nation, 2019). This dissociation has gained particular research attention, and as a result, the research on the field of RD has now acknowledged the existence of two distinct groups of children with RD, namely, poor decoders and poor comprehenders (Elwér et al., 2013). ...
... However, most of the studies in this field have been conducted in English with mid-childhood children (e.g., Nation et al., 2005;Tong et al., 2014;Adlof and Catts, 2015;MacKay et al., 2017). At that age, according to Nation (2019), MA difficulties of poor reading comprehenders might be a consequence of reading comprehension failure. On the contrary, we assessed MA skills at a time when Greek students have not fully developed basic reading skills (grade 1). ...
Article
Full-text available
The present longitudinal study examined whether early oral language skills of Greek-speaking children assessed in grade 1 can predict the type of reading difficulties (RD) in grade 2. Sixty-six typically developing (TD) children and eighty-seven children with RD were assessed on phonological awareness (PA), morphological awareness (MA), rapid automatized naming (RAN), and vocabulary in the mid of grade 1. Children were classified in the two groups based on whether they scored consistently low (below the 25th percentile) or typically (above the 25th percentile) on standardized measures of textreading fluency and reading comprehension at the end of grade 1 and the beginning of grade 2. Next, children with RD were assigned to two subgroups: the first group included children (N = 28) with predominantly reading fluency difficulties (RFD) and the second group included children (N = 59) with single reading comprehension difficulties (RCD). A series of binomial logistic regressions showed that children’s classification in an RD group than a TD group was predicted by PA, RAN, and vocabulary achievement. Subsequent multinomial logistic regressions indicated that vocabulary, PA, and MA predicted children’s classification in the RCD subgroup more than in the TD group. Furthermore, lower PA levels and higher RAN score predicted the classification of children in the RFD group than in the RCD or the TD group. These findings highlight the contribution of early oral language assessment to the identification of children with RD and specific types of RD. Theoretical implications for the role of oral language in reading will be discussed as well as practical implications for implementing customized interventions to match children’s educational needs on specific oral language deficits. KEYWORDS reading difficulties (RD), phonological awareness (PA), morphological awareness (MA), rapid automatized naming (RAN), vocabulary Frontiers
... However, there are several suggestions from the three experts to make revisions so that the learning products developed are even better. (Nation, 2019;Brysbaert, 2019;Sattorovna et al., 2019). The other side, 25% begin to develop, meaning that the teacher provides guidance, more support when children read story books. ...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to develop a storybook containing Mathematics, Existence, Literacy, Engineering, Science, Art, Technology (MELESAT) to improve literacy skills among group B of early childhood education and to test the feasibility of designing a storybook containing MELESAT. This type of research is a Research and Development with Pretest - Posttest One Group Design, using the ADDIE model which includes five stages, namely Analysis, Design, Develop, Implementation, and Evaluate. Subjects are children aged 5-6 years, including group B early childhood education totally 20. The instrument used a validation questionnaire and literacy tests. Results of this research indicate that the validation of the material obtained 3.04 of 4, validation of book design obtained 2.55 of 4 and validation of the media obtained 2.89 of 4. The effectiveness based on giving pretest and posttest to students totaled 20 subjects. The results showed that the pre-test score of 57% was developing as expected, and 43% was starting to develop. Post-test scores showed 7.5% progressed beyond expectations, 87.5% progressed as expected, and 5% started to develop. Through the content, design, and use of MELESAT books, there is an increase of literacy skills of children aged 5-6 years including group B early childhood education.
... Reading is defined as a process that involves the interpretation of code and understanding. Reading is complex, not only reciting but also involving visual activities such as translating written symbols into spoken words and the thought process of knowing and understanding the meaning of words (Nation, 2019). It concludes that reading is the activity of looking at the text and understanding the content of the text. ...
Article
Full-text available
This research aimed to determine the difference in students' language skills levels before and after using a verbal-linguistic intelligence-based learning design. This research was conducted in an elementary school in Garut Regency, Indonesia, using a pre-experimental design with a one-group pretest-posttest design. The participants were 22 sixth-grade elementary school students. The data were obtained by test. The test instrument was tested for validity and reliability. Then, the data were analyzed by inferential and descriptive tests. The inferential test was done through normality and homogeneity tests. Furthermore, the data were tested for the mean difference using SPSS 22 software. The results prove differences in students' language skills before and after applying the verbal-linguistic intelligence-based learning design. The acquisition sees the difference in scores of the average score of each skill after treatment increases with an n-gain score of 68.75. This proves that verbal-linguistic intelligence-based learning design can improve each student's language skills. The findings can be an insight for future researchers conducting research on learning design based on verbal-linguistic intelligence or language skills.
Article
Full-text available
This study aims to determine the influence of the Critical Multiliteracy model on the reading comprehension ability of fifth graders at State Elementary School (SDN) 1 Majasem. The approach used in this research is quantitative. The research design used was a one-group pretest-posttest design. The population was the fifth-grade elementary school at SDN 1 Majasem. The sample of this research is 24 students. The data collection technique in this study used a test in the form of multiple choice questions and a description of 20 questions. The research data were analyzed using normality, homogeneity, and t-test. Based on the study's results, it is known that the multiliteracy learning model has a significant effect on students' reading comprehension skills. This result can be seen from the significance value is 0.013 < 0.05. Thus, the critical multiliteracy learning model positively impacts students' reading comprehension skills.
Article
Full-text available
Reading comprehension (RC) is a multi-faceted construct but is often assessed with a single instrument. Previous research has highlighted that commonly used RC tests are only mildly correlated and vary in the skills they assess, including the differential contribution of oral language and decoding to children’s performance. Our study, framed within the Simple View of Reading model, examined the contribution of underlying component skills for multiple RC measures and evaluated whether the contribution of decoding and oral language skills changes according to the RC test used and developmental level. Two hundred Slovak-speaking children were assessed across two time points, using multiple RC tests and measures of decoding and oral language skills. The RC tests showed weak to moderate correlations, echoing findings from other languages. At the end of Year 1, the contribution of decoding and oral language to RC was similar in the Slovak transparent orthography. At the end of Year 2, the contribution of oral language had increased threefold, while decoding remained unchanged from Year 1. Crucially, there were also differences between the tests, with some more reliant on oral language. The results highlight the potential benefits of increasing understanding of the differential effects of the component skills in commonly used RC assessments as an aid to interpretation of children’s scores. Such an approach could not only identify children with poor scores, but also pinpoint where weaknesses lie in the underlying components so intervention targets could be formulated accordingly.
Article
Objectives: This study investigated receptive vocabulary and morphosyntactic skills of children with dyslexia, poor comprehension, and typically developing children in grade 3 to 6. Methods: A total of 45 children with dyslexia, poor comprehension, and typically developing children participated. In order to qualify for each group, children with dyslexia scored below 85 on the word decoding test, and poor comprehenders scored below 85 on the reading comprehension, but scored above 90 on decoding test. Typically developing children scored a standard score of 90 on both decoding and reading comprehension. All children were administered a receptive vocabulary, sentence comprehension, sentence repetition, morphological awareness, and syntactic awareness tasks. Results: The results showed that there were significant differences in all language tasks. Poor comprehenders scored the lowest on all tasks, followed by children with dyslexia. In the results receptive vocabulary task, there were differences between all three groups; and poor comprehenders performed lower than children with dyslexia and typically developing children on sentence comprehension. In the sentence repetition task, children with poor reading comprehension and dyslexia showed lower performance than typically developing children. Additionally, there were only differences between poor comprehenders and typically developing children in the morphological and syntactic awareness tasks. Conclusion: Poor comprehenders showed difficulties in vocabulary and morphosyntax, and children with dyslexia exhibited weakness of vocabulary and sentence repetitions that require linguistic knowledge and phonological memory. Their weakness of oral language may negatively influence reading development.
Article
Language and literacy difficulties are prevalent in young people involved in youth justice services (YJS). Given the known importance of language for literacy development, few studies have examined the literacy abilities of young people involved in YJS who have language difficulties. The writing abilities of this population have yet to be examined despite their importance for participation in restorative justice. This study examined the word reading, spelling, reading comprehension and expository writing abilities of 48 young people aged between 12 and 18 years involved in YJS who were on community orders and identified as having language difficulties. The young people scored −1SD below all subtest norms and displayed extremely low abilities on the writing subtest. Young people known to YJS should be screened for potential language and literacy difficulties to support their access to interventions aimed at reducing recidivism.
Article
Full-text available
Background: Reading comprehension draws on both decoding and linguistic comprehension, and poor reading comprehension can be the consequence of a deficit in either of these skills. Methods: Using outcome data from the longitudinal Wellcome Language and Reading Project, we identified three groups of children at age 8 years: children with dyslexia (N = 21) who had deficits in decoding but not oral language, children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD; N = 38) whose decoding skills were in the normal range, and children who met criteria for both dyslexia and DLD (N = 29). Results: All three groups had reading comprehension difficulties at the ages of 8 and 9 years relative to TD controls though those of the children with dyslexia were mild (relative to TD controls, d = 0.51 at age 8, d = 0.60 at age 8); while the most severe problems were found in the comorbid dyslexia + DLD group (d = 1.79 at age 8, d = 2.06 at age 9) those with DLD also had significant difficulties (d = 1.56 at age 8, d = 1.56 at age 9). Conclusions: These findings confirm that children with dyslexia or DLD are at-risk for reading comprehension difficulties but for different reasons, because of weak decoding in the case of dyslexia or weak oral language skills in the case of DLD. Different forms of intervention are required for these groups of children, targeted to their particular area(s) of weakness.
Article
Full-text available
In an effort to improve oral reading, beginning and remedial reading programs in English focus on phonological awareness skills and recoding with grapheme–phoneme correspondences. The meanings of the words children practice reading aloud are given little emphasis. Some studies now suggest semantic knowledge may have a direct effect on children’s oral reading, but it is unclear whether it is due to knowledge of a given word, general semantic knowledge (vocabulary size), or morphological awareness. We asked third and fourth graders with reading difficulty and their typically achieving peers (N = 95) to read polysyllabic words (N = 48) in isolation. We tested children’s semantic knowledge for those specific words, general semantic knowledge (vocabulary size), morphological awareness, and orthographic and phonological knowledge. Using generalized linear mixed-effects models, we found a word-specific semantic effect—along with word-specific orthographic and phonological effects—and general effects of semantic knowledge, morphological awareness, and phonological awareness. The results add to the studies showing the importance of semantic information but is unique in clarifying that a general semantic effect may be at least partly morphological. The findings support a distributed processing account of reading acquisition in which readers use all reliable information to pronounce words, not only letter–sound consistencies. There may be implications for curriculum design. The word-specific semantic effect may suggest that beginning readers should practice reading words in their phonological lexicons. The general morphological effect suggests that children might benefit from learning morphological units early in their reading development.
Article
Full-text available
We followed children at family-risk of dyslexia and children with preschool language difficulties from age 3½, comparing them with controls (N = 234). At age 8, children were classified as having dyslexia or Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and compared at earlier time points with controls. Children with dyslexia have specific difficulties with phonology and emergent reading skills in the preschool period whereas children with DLD, with or without dyslexia, show a wider range of impairments including significant problems with executive and motor tasks. For children with both dyslexia and DLD, difficulties with phonology are generally more severe than those observed in children with dyslexia or DLD alone. Findings confirm that poor phonology is the major cognitive risk factor for dyslexia.
Article
Full-text available
THIS ARTICLE IS OPEN ACCESS: https://lshss.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2711408 Purpose The purpose of this tutorial is to discuss the language basis of dyslexia in the context of developmental language disorders (DLDs). Whereas most studies have focused on the phonological skills of children with dyslexia, we bring attention to broader language skills. Method We conducted a focused literature review on the language basis of dyslexia from historical and theoretical perspectives with a special emphasis on the relation between dyslexia and DLD and on the development of broader language skills (e.g., vocabulary, syntax, and discourse) before and after the identification of dyslexia. Results We present clinically relevant information on the history of dyslexia as a language-based disorder, the operational definitions used to diagnose dyslexia in research and practice, the relation between dyslexia and DLD, and the language abilities of children with dyslexia. Conclusions We discuss 3 clinical implications for working with children with dyslexia in school settings: (a) Children with dyslexia—with and without comorbid DLDs—often have language deficits outside the phonological domain; (b) intervention should target a child's strengths and weaknesses relative to reading outcomes, regardless of diagnostic labels; and (c) those who have dyslexia, regardless of language abilities at the time of diagnosis, may be at risk for slower language acquisition across their lifetime. Longitudinal studies are needed to assess multiple language skills early, at the time of the diagnosis of dyslexia, and years later to better understand the complex development of language and reading in children with dyslexia.
Article
Full-text available
The simple view of reading (SVR) proposes that performance in reading comprehension is the result of decoding and linguistic comprehension, and that each component is necessary but not sufficient for reading comprehension. In this study, the joint and unique predictive influences of decoding and linguistic comprehension for reading comprehension were examined with a group of 757 children in Grades 3 through 5. Children completed multiple measures of each construct, and latent variables were used in all analyses. Overall, the results of our study indicate that (a) the two constructs included in the SVR account for almost all of the variance in reading comprehension, (b) there are developmental trends in the relative importance of the two components, and (c) the two components share substantial predictive variance, which may complicate efforts to substantially improve children’s reading comprehension because the overlap may reflect stable individual differences in general cognitive or linguistic abilities.
Article
Full-text available
The present study investigates whether grade 6 reading outcomes, reading fluency, and reading comprehension can be predicted by grade 3 reading fluency, familial risk of dyslexia (FR), and grade 3 reading related skills: rapid automatized naming (RAN), phonological awareness (PA), and vocabulary. In a sample of 150 children, of whom 83 had a parent with dyslexia, correlation and regression analyses were performed. FR, measured on a continuous scale, was by itself related to all outcomes. However, FR did not explain any variance on top of grade 3 reading fluency. Grade 3 reading fluency strongly predicted grade 6 reading fluency and was also related to reading comprehension. RAN improved the prediction of grade 6 reading fluency, though the additional explained variance was small. Vocabulary and PA fully explained the variance that grade 3 reading fluency explained in grade 6 reading comprehension. Vocabulary explained a substantial amount of variance in grade 6 reading comprehension making it an interesting clinical target. As we used continuous measures of reading fluency and FR, our findings are not biased by distinct diagnostic criteria.
Article
Skilled reading reflects an accumulation of experience with written language. Written language is typically viewed as an expression of spoken language, and this perspective has motivated approaches to understanding reading and reading acquisition. However, in this article, I develop the proposal that written language has diverged from spoken language in important ways that maximise the transmission of meaningful information, and that this divergence has been central to the development of rapid, skilled reading. I use English as an example to show that weaknesses in the relationship between spelling and sound can give rise to strong regularities between spelling and meaning that are critical for the rapid analysis of printed words. I conclude by arguing that the nature of the reading system is a reflection of the writing system and that a deep understanding of reading can be obtained only through a deep understanding of written language.
Article
The two major determinants of reading comprehension are language comprehension and decoding, but prior studies of the development of reading comprehension from an early age show inconsistent results. To clarify these inconsistencies we report a 6-year longitudinal study (starting at Age 4 years) where we control for measurement error and track the development and interrelationships between a range of predictors of reading comprehension (language, decoding, and cognitive skills). We found two main pathways to reading comprehension: a highly stable language comprehension pathway (reflecting variations in vocabulary, listening comprehension, grammar, and verbal working memory) and a less stable code-related pathway (reflecting variations in phoneme awareness, letter knowledge, and rapid automatized naming). Early language comprehension at Age 4 years is strongly related to code-related predictors (phoneme awareness, letter knowledge, and rapid naming), and influences decoding indirectly through these constructs. Early oral language skills predicted initial levels of reading comprehension and its growth between the ages of 7 and 9 years. Strikingly, language comprehension and decoding, together with their interaction and curvilinear effects, explain almost all (99.7%) of the variance in reading comprehension skills at 7 years of age. Our study adds to prior knowledge in several important ways and provides strong support for an elaborated version of the simple view of reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986).
Article
We assessed the simple view of reading as a framework for Grade 3 reading comprehension in two ways. We first confirmed that a structural equation model in which word recognition, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension were assessed by multiple measures to inform each latent construct provided an adequate fit to this model in Grade 3. We next examined how well prekindergarten (pre-K) oral language (vocabulary, grammar, discourse) and code-related (letter and print knowledge, phonological processing) skills predicted Grade 3 reading comprehension, through the two core components of the simple view: word recognition and listening comprehension. Strong relations were evident between pre-K skills and the complementary Grade 3 constructs of listening comprehension and word recognition. Notably, the pre-K latent constructs of oral language and code-related skills were strongly related to each other, with a much weaker (nonsignificant) relation between the complementary Grade 3 constructs of listening comprehension and word recognition.