Cognitive mechanisms underlying reading and spelling development in five European orthographies

Kristina Moll*, Franck Ramus, Jürgen Bartling, Jennifer Bruder, Sarah Kunze, Nina Neuhoff, Silke Streiftau, Heikki Lyytinen, Paavo H T Leppänen, Kaisa Lohvansuu, Dénes Tóth, Ferenc Honbolygó, Valéria Csépe, Caroline Bogliotti, Stéphanie Iannuzzi, Jean François Démonet, Emilie Longeras, Sylviane Valdois, Florence George, Isabelle Soares-BoucaudMarie France Le Heuzey, Catherine Billard, Michael O'Donovan, Gary Hill, Julie Williams, Daniel Brandeis, Urs Maurer, Enrico Schulz, Sanne van der Mark, Bertram Müller-Myhsok, Gerd Schulte-Körne, Karin Landerl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

281 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the question whether the cognitive underpinnings of reading and spelling are universal or language/orthography-specific. We analyzed concurrent predictions of phonological processing (awareness and memory) and rapid automatized naming (RAN) for literacy development in a large European sample of 1062 typically developing elementary school children beyond Grade 2 acquiring five different alphabetic orthographies with varying degrees of grapheme-phoneme consistency (English, French, German, Hungarian, Finnish). Findings indicate that (1) phonological processing and RAN both account for significant amounts of unique variance in literacy attainment in all five orthographies. Associations of predictors with reading speed, reading accuracy, and spelling are differential: in general, RAN is the best predictor of reading speed while phonological processing accounts for higher amounts of unique variance in reading accuracy and spelling; (2) the predictive patterns are largely comparable across orthographies, but they tend to be stronger in English than in all other orthographies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
JournalLearning and Instruction
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • reading development
  • cross-linguistic
  • orthographic consistency
  • phonological awareness
  • rapid automatized naming


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