Reading and Writing

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 171–188 | Cite as

The early manifestation of developmental dyslexia: Evidence from German children

  • Heinz WimmerEmail author


The present study retrospectively examined early difficulties with phonological coding and phonemic segmentation of German children who after four years in school were diagnosed as dyslexic. German, in comparison to English, exhibits rather simple and straight-forward grapheme-phoneme correspondences, and the initial teaching approach was phonics oriented. Despite these favorable circumstances for the acquisition of phonological coding, the majority of the later dyslexic children had particular difficulties with the accurate reading of nonwords and of unfamiliar words after about seven months of reading instruction. However, there were enormous differences between the dyslexic children. Two of them were completely unable to ‘blend’ phonemes into pronunciations, another seven were slow and error prone decoders, and three children had slow and laborious pronunciation assembly as the core problem. The majority of the later dyslexic children also exhibited phonemic segmentation deficits as tested with a nonword spelling task and a phoneme reversal task. In correspondence with findings from older German dyslexic children, the early difficulties with accurate phonological coding and phonemic segmentation were no longer found at the end of grade four. Children then suffered from very slow reading and poor spelling. In general, the difficulties of German dyslexic children emphasize the phonological impairment account of dyslexia. More specifically, these findings suggest that the assembly of letter sounds into pronunciations is particularly affected in the early phase of learning to read a consistent orthography.

Key words

Dyslexia Early reading and spelling difficulties German orthography Nonword reading Phonological deficits 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SalzburgAustria

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