Literacy Acquisition in Spanish

Authored by: Javier S Sainz

Handbook of Orthography and Literacy

Print publication date:  September  2005
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780805846522
eBook ISBN: 9780203824719
Adobe ISBN: 9781136781353


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This chapter briefly describes the nature of the Spanish language as a linguistic type and discusses the difficulties that readers face concerning the way phonologic, morphologic, and orthographic units are aligned and recognized in reading. Particular attention is paid to the syllable-based decomposition of Spanish words. Contrary to most cross-linguistic studies that underestimate the complexity of Spanish orthography on ignoring the role of suprasegmental units in reading, evidence is reviewed that shows that actual performance depends on the materials readers are actually given. Regardless, observations of low performance in reading-comprehension tests, popular assessment scales, and studies that show high performance for Spanish readers keep using nonrepresentative reading material and lexical candidates for which no conflicting word-recognition processes emerge. Thus old prejudices about the shallow nature of Spanish orthography are confirmed in most studies. The role of bottom-up and top-down processes in lexical selection is discussed to account for the way that competing lexical entries become active in multiword displays.

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