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Reading and spelling acquisition in French: The role of phonological mediation and orthographic factors

The objective of this research was to study the development of reading and spelling in French. The two main hypotheses were that (1) phonological mediation is the primary process in the acquisition of these skills and that (2) the use of phonological mediation may allow the construction of the orthographic lexicon. In January and June, 57 1st graders were required to read and spell items designed to assess the variables of regularity, graphemic complexity, frequency, lexicality and analogy. The findings of the January session partially corroborated the 1st hypothesis as a regularity effect, but no frequency effect and no word superiority, were found both in reading and spelling. The main contradictory finding was the presence, in early reading only, of a facilitative effect of analogy. The changes in the frequency and the lexicality effects between the 2 sessions in reading and in spelling indicated that the children were able to rapidly construct an orthographic lexicon. The 2nd hypothesis was supported as relationships were found to exist between early phonological skills and subsequent orthographic skills. Finally, we observed that French children were using graphemes (not only letters), in the early stage of reading, and to a lesser extent, in the early stage of spelling. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)



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