Oral vocabulary knowledge and orthographic learning
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 02:13 authored by Signy Wegener
Children’s reading evolves from the slow and effortful process of using letter-to sound correspondences during word identification to rapid and skilled whole word recognition - a process referred to as orthographic learning. The question of how this is achieved remains open. This thesis explores the role of vocabulary knowledge in the processof orthographic learning and tests a possible mechanism for its influence. It is presented in two parts. Part One is a broad literature review that outlines what is currently known about the relationship between vocabulary knowledge and orthographic learning. Possible mechanisms via which vocabulary might exert an effect on orthographic learning are discussed, and are linked back to theoretical accounts that differ with respect to the proposed timing of the influence. Some posit an effect that begins at the time a word is seen in print, such as the self teachinghypothesis of Share (1995) and the lexical quality hypothesis of Perfetti (1992). Another – the orthographic recoding hypothesis – predicts that the effect may begin prior to any visual exposure (McKague, Davis, Pratt & Johnston, 2008). Topics relevant to how the proposed mechanisms might be understood and tested are then discussed. Part Two presents an empirical study which draws on the literature review to propose and test three hypotheses: first, that the partial knowledge engendered by oral familiarity with a word should confer an online processing advantage when children’s eye movements are monitored during reading; second, that words with predictable spellings based on their phonology should enjoy a processing advantage relative to words with unpredictable spellings; and finally, that the presence of a word in a child’s oral vocabulary, together with their knowledge of phoneme-grapheme mappings, allows them to form an orthographic “skeleton” of that word before seeing it in print. The principal findings from this study supported all three hypotheses, and are consistent with the position that orthographic learning can commence prior to visual exposure. Implications for theories of orthographic learning .