Reading and Spelling Acquisition and Dyslexia in German

Authored by: Karin Landerl , Verena Thaler

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 reviews empirical findings on reading and spelling acquisition and dyslexia in German. The orthography of German is characterized by high consistency of grapheme—phoneme correspondences, and the main method of reading instruction is phonics. The reading and spelling instruction of young children acquiring German orthography are clearly phoneme based. The predictive power of early phonological awareness for later reading skills is lower for German than it is for English, probably because early differences in phonological awareness are evened out by the combination of a phonics teaching approach and experience with a phonologically transparent orthography. Even dyslexic children are able to acquire a high level of reading accuracy for both words and nonwords. Their main problem is a serious and highly persistent deficit in reading fluency. Deficits in reading fluency are closely related to deficits in rapid automatized naming that are manifest even before the onset of reading instruction. A first attempt to remediate deficits in reading fluency was of limited success, showing that such deficits do not result from missing reading practice but rather constitute a neurocognitive disorder.

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