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Reading and spelling acquisition in French: the role of phonological mediation and orthographic factors.

Abstract : The objective of this research was to study the development of reading and spelling in French. The two main hypotheses were that (1) phonological mediation is the primary process in the acquisition of these skills and that (2) the use of phonological mediation may allow the construction of the orthographic lexicon. In January and June, first graders (n = 57) were required to read and spell items designed to assess the variables of regularity, graphemic complexity, frequency, lexicality and analogy. The findings of the January session partially corroborated the first hypothesis as a regularity effect, but no frequency effect and no word superiority, were found both in reading and spelling. The main contradictory finding was the presence, in early reading only, of a facilitative effect of analogy. The changes in the frequency and the lexicality effects between the two sessions in reading and in spelling indicated that the children were able to rapidly construct an orthographic lexicon. However, this procedure did not entirely replace phonological mediation since a regularity effect and regularization errors were observed and increased between sessions. The second hypothesis was supported as relationships were found to exist between early phonological skills and subsequent orthographic skills. Finally, we observed that French children were using graphemes (not only letters), in the early stage of reading, and, to a lesser extent, in the early stage of spelling. The findings are discussed in the context of developmental models of reading and spelling.
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L. Sprenger-Charolles, L. S. Siegel, P. Bonnet. Reading and spelling acquisition in French: the role of phonological mediation and orthographic factors.. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Elsevier, 1998, 68 (2), pp.134-65. ⟨10.1006/jecp.1997.2422⟩. ⟨hal-00733544v2⟩



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