Article published in:Understanding Writing Systems
Edited by Merijn Beeksma and Martin Neef
[Written Language & Literacy 21:1] 2018
Reading comprehension across languages
Seven European orthographies and two international literacy assessments
Orthographic depth, the degree of spelling-to-sound consistency in a language, has been hypothesized to affect the ease with which children learn to read words. However, the relationship between orthographic depth and reading comprehension is less well understood. In this study, focusing on countries in which two international assessments (PISA and PIRLS) were given in two or more languages, we examine data from elementary and high-school readers of Finnish, Swedish, Italian, German, Dutch, French and English). Findings suggest that that there may be some trade-offs between shallow and deep orthographies in terms of the specific ways that they map onto the phonological and deep meaning representations required for cognitive processing during an activity such as comprehension. These trade-offs serve to differentially support or inhibit readers depending on where they are situated on the achievement continuum.
Keywords: comprehension, orthographic depth, cross-linguistic, reading competence