The role of morpheme clusters in reading processes at the end of primary school

The role of morpheme clusters in reading processes at the end of primary school

First Author: Eveline Bader -- University of Cologne
Additional authors/chairs: 
Ann-Kathrin Hennes; Igor Osipov; Barbara Maria Schmidt; Claudia Colley; Alfred Schabmann
Keywords: Morphological processing, Reading, Reading development, Reading fluency
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Skilled readers use clusters of letters (e.g. morphemes and syllables) to accelerate word recognition processes during reading. The research aim was, to see if German fourth-graders use morphemes to accelerate their reading process.

Method: A total of 38 German speaking students in grade four (Age: M= 10.4; SD= 0.57 years; 58% male) had to read out loud 50 words of different types: 1) nonwords composed using real morphemes, e.g. denkig (morpheme: denk=think); 2) nonwords without morphemes (e.g. donkeg), 3) words graphically “disrupted” at either the morpheme boundary (e.g. fang#en) or inside the morpheme (e.g. fan#gen – note that the syllable is intact) as well as control words (e.g. #fangen). Words were comparable in terms of word frequency and length.

Results: (a) Children read nonwords containing real morphemes significantly faster than nonwords without real morphemes. (b) Words without any disruption were read significantly faster than words with disruption. Words with disruption on the morpheme boundary were read faster than those with disruption inside the morpheme.

Conclusions: By the end of primary school German readers already use morphemes to accelerate their process of reading aloud.