Reading and Spelling Across Orthographies

, K. L.

Reading as well as spelling depend on the build-up of an expansive and easily accessible orthographic lexicon. Across orthographies, reading and spelling are closely associated during development. However, the strength of this relationship varies. In consistent orthographies, reading and spelling frequently dissociate. Findings show that problems in reading fluency and problems in spelling are associated with distinguishable deficits in written word processing. It is often assumed that dysfluent reading results from overreliance on sublexical decoding (i.e., sounding out letter-by-letter). Current evidence, however, is not in line with this assumption. Instead, findings suggest that poor readers do apply lexical strategies during word recognition, but are extremely slow in accessing orthographic representations. Results from cognitive and neurophysiological paradigms showed that dysfluent reading in consistent orthographies is best explained by deficits in efficient word processing as well as visual-verbal access. Problems in spelling are related to deficits in building-up word specific representations and storing them in long-term memory. Underspecified representations are sufficient for word recognition during reading, but not for spelling a word correctly. This explains why children can be poor spellers although their word recognition skills are intact.