On the Anglocentricities of Current Reading Research and Practice: The Perils of Overreliance on an ";Outlier" Orthography

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In this critique of current reading research and practice, the author contends that the extreme ambiguity of English spelling-sound correspondence has confined reading science to an insular, Anglocentric research agenda addressing theoretical and applied issues with limited relevance for a universal science of reading. The unique problems posed by this ";outlier" orthography, the author argues, have focused disproportionate attention on oral reading accuracy at the expense of silent reading, meaning access, and fluency, and have significantly distorted theorizing with regard to many issues-including phonological awareness, early reading instruction, the architecture of stage models of reading development, the definition and remediation of reading disability, and the role of lexical-semantic and supralexical information in word recognition. The dominant theoretical paradigm in contemporary (word) reading research-the Coltheart/Baron dual-route model (see, e.g., J. Baron, 1977; M. Coltheart, 1978) and, in large measure, its connectionist rivals-arose largely in response to English spelling-sound obtuseness. The model accounts for a range of English-language findings, but it is ill-equipped to serve the interests of a universal science of reading chiefly because it overlooks a fundamental unfamiliar-to-familiar/novice-to-expert dualism applicable to all words and readers in all orthographies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-615
Number of pages32
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Anglocentrism
  • orthography
  • reading
  • word recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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