Word recognition deficits in German: more evidence from a representative sample

K Landerl
Dyslexia: the Journal of the British Dyslexia Association 2001, 7 (4): 183-96
In a representative sample of German speaking dyslexic children, earlier findings on dyslexia in the highly consistent orthography of German were confirmed. In a sample of 78 dyslexic 3rd graders selected on the basis of their poor word recognition skills, reading accuracy for both words and non-words was deficient but high in absolute terms. This indicates that the highly consistent grapheme-phoneme correspondences of German orthography in combination with the straightforward phonics teaching approach, which is usually applied in Austrian primary schools, allows even dyslexic children to acquire the process of phonological decoding. The central reading problem was extremely slow speed. Poor performance on a reading comprehension test was at least partly due to slow reading speed as well. Dyslexic children's spelling development was also severely delayed. The number of phonologically incorrect spellings was low; however, dyslexic children quite often produced spellings that are orthographically incorrect, indicating that they have not yet been able to develop an extensive and easily accessible orthographic lexicon. The most prominent cognitive deficit was reduced rapid naming speed closely followed by deficits in phonological awareness. Deficits in phonological memory were also evident (but mild) showing that despite marked differences in findings on reading and spelling skills of English dyslexic children, the underlying causes are very similar. The present sample of dyslexic children showed deficits in visual processing speed in addition to their linguistic deficits. However, this deficit in visual processing speed did not seem causally related to the children's reading and spelling deficits.


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