A cross-linguistic study of the growth of word and pseudoword reading efficiency: Impact of orthographic consistency

A cross-linguistic study of the growth of word and pseudoword reading efficiency: Impact of orthographic consistency

First Author: Marketa Caravolas -- Bangor University
Abstract / Summary: 

• Purpose.
Word and pseudoword reading skills are fundamental to reading development in alphabetic orthographies. However, little is known about the influence of orthographic consistency on their concurrent early growth trajectories. The present longitudinal, cross-linguistic study comparing learners of the inconsistent English, and consistent Czech and Slovak orthographies investigated (1) the developmental origins and relative magnitude of the anticipated growth rate advantage for reading efficiency in consistent orthographies, and (2) the impact of orthographic consistency on the development of the lexicality effect (advantage of word over pseudoword reading).

• Method.
Four-hundred-and-sixty-two children (165 English; 124 Czech; 173 Slovak) participated. All were assessed at three time points: end-Grade 1, mid-Grade 2, and end-Grade 2. In addition to general ability measures, two measures of reading efficiency -- 1-minute tests of word and pseudoword reading --, parallel across languages, were created, and administered individually in the same order at each time point.

• Results.
Multi-group latent growth models revealed, as predicted, slower growth on both reading skills for readers of English than learners of Czech and Slovak. However, their lag was smaller for word reading -- evident in only second grade --, than for pseudoword reading, which was significantly worse at all times. Within group, latent growth models showed faster growth for word than pseudoword reading efficiency in every language, giving rise to a language-general lexicality effect. The largest effect was observed in English, however, resulting from disproportionately weak (pseudoword) decoding skills.

• Conclusions.
The findings are related to theorizing about the impact of orthographic consistency on the development of alphabetic reading, and to the contributions of word and pseudoword reading to word-level reading processes.