Acquiring the complex English orthography: A triliteracy advantage?

Janina Kahn-Horwitz, Mila Schwartz, David Share

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The script-dependence hypothesis was tested through the examination of the impact of Russian and Hebrew literacy on English orthographic knowledge needed for spelling and decoding among fifth graders. We compared the performance of three groups: Russian-Hebrew-speaking emerging triliterates, Russian-Hebrew-speaking emerging biliterates who were not literate in Russian (but only in Hebrew) and Hebrew-speaking emerging biliterates. Based on similarities between Russian and English orthographies, we hypothesised that Russian-Hebrew-speaking emerging triliterates would outperform both other groups on spelling and decoding of short vowels and consonant clusters. Further, we hypothesised that all groups would face similar difficulties with novel orthographic conventions. Russian-Hebrew-speaking emerging triliterates demonstrated advantages for spelling and decoding of short vowels and for decoding of consonant clusters. All three groups experienced difficulty with spelling and decoding the digraph th as well as the split digraph (silent e).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-156
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research in Reading
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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