Reading and Writing

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 321–345 | Cite as

A prospective study of the relationship between phonological, semantic and syntactic skills and specific reading disability

  • Gail Gillon
  • Barbara J. Dodd


Although it is well established that a relationship exists between specific reading disability and spoken language difficulties, the nature of that relationship remains controversial. In the study reported here, the performance of poor readers was firstly compared with that of matched good readers on a series of spoken and written language tasks on three assessment trials 12 months apart, and secondly to that of younger average readers. Five experimental tasks were used to measure the readers' phonological processing skills, and three subtests from the CELF-R were selected to measure the students' syntactic and semantic skills. Reading accuracy and comprehension ability were assessed by the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability-Revised. The results showed that 8–10-year-old poor readers performed poorly in all three linguistic areas concurrently, and that these difficulties persisted. However, the important finding from this study was that while the good readers demonstrated no significant difference between their phonological processing skills and their semantic/syntactic skills, the poor readers' ability did differ according to skill area. The poor readers' phonological processing skills appeared to be particularly impaired, a finding which was further enhanced by results from the reading-match comparison. The results are discussed in terms of current theories of reading disability.

Key words

Phonology Semantics Specific reading disability Spoken language skills Syntax 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail Gillon
    • 1
  • Barbara J. Dodd
    • 2
  1. 1.Brisbane Catholic Education CentreDutton ParkAustralia
  2. 2.Speech and Hearing DepartmentThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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