Acquisition of orthographic forms via spoken complex word training

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 30(2), 739–750.


This study used a novel word-training paradigm to examine the integration of spoken word knowledge when learning to read morphologically complex novel words. Australian primary school children including Grades 3–5 were taught the oral form of a set of novel morphologically complex words (e.g., (/vɪbɪŋ/, /vɪbd/, /vɪbz/), with a second set serving as untrained items. Following oral training, participants saw the printed form of the novel word stems for the first time (e.g., vib), embedded in sentences, while their eye movements were monitored. Half of the stems were spelled predictably and half were spelled unpredictably.

Reading times were shorter for orally trained stems with predictable than unpredictable spellings and this difference was greater for trained than untrained items. These findings suggest that children were able to form robust orthographic expectations of the embedded morphemic stems during spoken word learning, which may have occurred automatically without any explicit control of the applied mappings, despite still being in the early stages of reading development. Following the sentence reading task, children completed a reading-aloud task where they were exposed to the novel orthographic forms for a second time. The findings are discussed in the context of theories of reading acquisition.

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 30(2), 739–750