The road to reading for South African learners: The role of orthographic depth
Van de Vijver, Fons J.R.
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The study examined profiles of reading skills and cognitive skills for South African children from schools that differed in opacity of medium of instruction. The sample included 122 third graders instructed in Afrikaans (transparent language), 109 in Setswana (transparent), and 127 in English (opaque). The link between cognitive skills (short-term memory and working memory) and reading comprehension was expected to be mediated by phonological awareness, word fluency, text fluency, and vocabulary. Multigroup invariance analyses revealed differences in strength of relations between cognitive skills and reading skills across mediums of instruction. For English, phonological awareness played a smaller and vocabulary a larger role compared to Afrikaans and Setswana, largely in line with theories on orthographic depth and reading; furthermore, predictors of reading comprehension showed weaker interrelations in Afrikaans and Setswana. Our study stresses the need to align reading instruction with orthography.
- Faculty of Education