Workpackage 1. Establishing the Foundations of Literacy in European Languages

Co-ordinator: M. Caravolas

Senior Researchers: D. Alamargot, M. Caravolas, S. Defior, M. Fayol, C. Hulme, G. Málková, M. Mikulajová

Research Fellows-- ESRs: C. Effrim, M. Litavsky, E. Onochie, N. Salas, M. Schoffelová; ER: P. Mousikou

Participants: University of Poitiers, Bangor University, University of Granada, University Blaise Pascal, University of York, Charles University in Prague, Comenius University in Bratislava.



Background and Rationale. Numerous longitudinal studies with English-speaking populations have demonstrated that the two main predictors of reading and spelling ability are phoneme awareness and letter knowledge, and that phoneme awareness and other phonological processing skills remain important long-term predictors of individual differences in literacy skills(1,2,3). However, it has been argued that, due to its very deep orthography, and differences in teaching methods, English may not provide the most appropriate model for literacy development in other European languages (4,5).

The importance and duration of foundations skills in reading and spelling may differ in other European Languages depending on the nature of

  • Orthographies (6)
  • Morphological structure of spoken language (7,8)

The proposition is that the depth of the orthographic input, the nature of the spoken language and the methods of reading instruction can alter the relative importance of the cognitive mechanisms involved in the reading and spelling process. Although this claim has been made in several cross-sectional studies (7,8), comprehensive longitudinal studies, which would more adequately test these claims in different languages, are still missing. Moreover, it is important to test the validity of English-based models regarding the relationship between reading accuracy, reading fluency and spelling in the later phases of development.



(1). Byrne, B. (1998). The foundation of literacy: The child's acquisition of the alphabetic principle. Hove, Psychology Press.


(2.) Caravolas, M., C. Hulme, et al. (2001). "The foundations of spelling ability: Evidence from a 3-year longitudinal study." Journal of Memory and Language 45: 751-774



(3.) Muter, V., C. Hulme, et al. (2004). "Phonemes, rimes and language skills as foundations of early reading development: Evidence from a longitudinal study." Developmental Psychology 40: 663-681.



(4.) Wimmer, H., H. Mayringer, et al. (2000). "The double-deficit hypothesis and difficulties in learning to read a regular orthography." Journal of Educational Psychology 92 (4): 668-680.



(5.) Wesseling, R. and P. Reitsma (2000). "The transient role of explicit phonological recoding for reading aquisition." Reading and Writing 13: 313-336.



(6.) Wimmer, H. and U. Goswani (1994). "The influence of orthographic consistency on reading development: word recognition in English and German." Cognition: 91-103.



(7.) Muller, K. and S. Brady (2001). "Correlates of early reading performance in a transparent orthography." Reading and Writing 14: 757-799.



(8.) Caravolas, M., Volin, J., & Hulme, C. (2005). Phoneme awareness is a key component of alphabetic literacy skills in consistent and inconsistent orthographies: Evidence from Czech and English children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology : 92, 107-139.