Reading and Writing

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 321-346

First online:

Longitudinal predictors of reading and spelling across languages varying in orthographic consistency

  • George K. GeorgiouAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta Email author 
  • , Minna TorppaAffiliated withUniversity of Jyväskylä
  • , George ManolitsisAffiliated withUniversity of Crete
  • , Heikki LyytinenAffiliated withUniversity of Jyväskylä
  • , Rauno ParrilaAffiliated withUniversity of Alberta

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We examined the longitudinal predictors of nonword decoding, reading fluency, and spelling in three languages that vary in orthographic depth: Finnish, Greek, and English. Eighty-two English-speaking, 70 Greek, and 88 Finnish children were followed from the age of 5.5 years old until Grade 2. Prior to any reading instruction, they were administered measures of phonological awareness, letter knowledge, and rapid naming speed. In Grade 2, they were administered measures of nonword decoding, text-reading fluency, and spelling. The results showed that the model for nonword decoding in Greek was similar to that of Finnish (both have consistent grapheme-to-phoneme mappings) while the model for spelling in Greek was similar to that of English (both have some inconsistent phoneme-to-grapheme mappings). In addition, the models for nonword decoding and spelling in Finnish were similar, because Finnish is consistent in both directions. Letter knowledge dominated the prediction in each language. The predictable role of orthographic consistency on literacy acquisition is discussed.


Letter knowledge Phonological awareness Rapid naming speed Reading Spelling Cross-linguistic Orthographic consistency