Role of Orthography in Literacy Acquisition and Literacy Problems Among Monolinguals and Bilinguals

  • R. Malatesha Joshi
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 2)


There may be various reasons, such as the number of books available at home, genetics, type of instruction etc., as to why a child has difficulty learning to read and spell. Additionally, the type of writing system of a language can also affect the literacy acquisition. According to “Orthographic Depth Hypothesis (ODH),” the degree of correspondence between orthography and phonology is an important factor of the way literacy skills are acquired. Seymour (Theoretical framework for beginning reading in different orthographies. In R.M. Joshi & P.G. Aaron (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates) examined the speed and accuracy of familiar word reading and nonword reading in 15 different European writing systems and concluded that “the establishment of an effective sight vocabulary and decoding needs about 2 years of reading experience in English as against 1-year in many European languages.” The questions that arise, then, are how does the orthography of one language influence the acquisition of literacy skills in another language? If a person is dyslexic in one language, would he/she be dyslexic in other languages as well? Can reading models, such as the Componential Model, that have proven beneficial for the assessment of reading problems among English-speaking children be useful to other orthographies such as Spanish orthography? This chapter presents results from our studies that show that orthographic differences do make a contribution in the acquisition of literacy skills, and that certain orthographies can slow down literacy acquisition in beginning readers.


Word Recognition Reading Comprehension Literacy Skill Poor Reader Writing System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I wish to thank the editors for inviting me to contribute a chapter in a volume dedicated to Dr. Iris Levin. Iris has contributed widely to various aspects of literacy and orthography. In this chapter, I have tried to combine these two areas in honoring her.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Education and Human DevelopmentTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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