The unique role of picture rapid naming in predicting Chinese literacy skills

The unique role of picture rapid naming in predicting Chinese literacy skills

First Author: Fong Cathy Y.-C. -- The Education University of Hong Kong
Additional authors/chairs: 
Connie Suk-han HO; David Wai-ock CHAN; Kevin Kien-hoa CHUNG
Keywords: Literacy Skills, Reading speed, Rapid naming, Chinese
Abstract / Summary: 

Rapid automatized naming (RAN) has been established as a powerful predictor of word reading skills, but its strength of prediction may vary depending on the type of stimuli one is asked to name. Research in alphabetic writing systems has showed that there is a highly specific relationship between rapid naming of alphanumeric stimuli and children’s reading abilities, while the naming of non-alphanumeric stimuli (e.g., pictures) was only a modest predictor. Despite the less recognized role of picture RAN in learning to read in alphabetic writing systems, it is acknowledged that picture RAN taps into distinctive cognitive processes that do not involve in letters and digits RAN (e.g., efficient access to semantic information). More importantly, these processes may resemble critical processes underlying literacy acquisition in non-alphabetic writing systems, such as Chinese. To fill this research gap, the present study examined the unique contribution of both letter RAN and picture RAN to various literacy skills (word reading accuracy, word reading fluency, and word spelling) in 58 Chinese children in elementary grades. Results of hierarchical regressions suggested that the relative importance of letter and picture RAN tends to vary for different literacy domains. In the prediction of Chinese word reading accuracy and spelling, letter RAN was found to explain 20%-51% variance in the two dependent variables, while picture RAN did not make unique prediction beyond that. However, both letter and picture RAN were found to have significant and unique contribution to reading fluency. Interestingly, it was found that beyond the 41% variance accounted by reading accuracy in explaining reading speed, picture RAN (but not letter RAN) further explained 9% unique variance in reading speed. We shall discuss the distinct cognitive demands of letter and picture RAN tasks and how they may represent the underlying cognitive processes of the three Chinese literacy skills respectively.