Theoretical Framework for Beginning Reading in Different Orthographies

Authored by: Philip H. K Seymour

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 outlines an inclusive framework for discussion of literacy acquisition in different languages. Learning to read proceeds through a common series of phases in which an increasingly complex model of the writing system is constructed through an interaction with linguistic awareness. This involves the formation of implicit and explicit representations of morphological and phonological segments of spoken language. Learning an alphabet of symbols (Phase 0) is a common prerequisite. Foundation processes of sight-word recognition and elementary decoding (Phase 1) differ significantly among languages, depending on teaching methods and the balance of transparent and complex spellings in beginning reading materials. Subsequent learning (Phases 2 and 3) of the orthography (syllable-level mapping of sounds and symbols) and morphography (morpheme-level representation) depends on linguistic factors, especially the clarity of syllabic structure and the depth of the orthography. These factors influence the time needed to progress through each phase, the underlying cognitive architecture, and the linguistic units that are prioritised.

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