, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 105-128

Effects of mora deletion, nonword repetition, rapid naming, and visual search performance on beginning reading in Japanese

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Abstract

This study examined the extent to which mora deletion (phonological analysis), nonword repetition (phonological memory), rapid automatized naming (RAN), and visual search abilities predict reading in Japanese kindergartners and first graders. Analogous abilities have been identified as important predictors of reading skills in alphabetic languages like English. In contrast to English, which is based on grapheme-phoneme relationships, the primary components of Japanese orthography are two syllabaries—hiragana and katakana (collectively termed “kana”)—and a system of morphosyllabic symbols (kanji). Three RAN tasks (numbers, objects, syllabary symbols [hiragana]) were used with kindergartners, with an additional kanji RAN task included for first graders. Reading measures included accuracy and speed of passage reading for kindergartners and first graders, and reading comprehension for first graders. In kindergartners, hiragana RAN and number RAN were the only significant predictors of reading accuracy and speed. In first graders, kanji RAN and hiragana RAN predicted reading speed, whereas accuracy was predicted by mora deletion. Reading comprehension was predicted by kanji RAN, mora deletion, and nonword repetition. Although number RAN did not contribute unique variance to any reading measure, it correlated highly with kanji RAN. Implications of these findings for research and practice are discussed.