Phonological Recoding and Orthographic Learning: A Direct Test of the Self-Teaching Hypothesis

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According to the self-teaching hypothesis (Share, 1995), word-specific orthographic representations are acquired primarily as a result of the self-teaching opportunities provided by the phonological recoding of novel letter strings. This hypothesis was tested by asking normal second graders to read aloud short texts containing embedded pseudoword targets. Three days later, target spellings were correctly identified more often, named more quickly, and spelled more accurately than alternate homophonic spellings. Experiment 2 examined whether this rapid orthographic learning can be attributed to mere visual exposure to target strings. It was found that viewing the target letter strings under conditions designed to minimize phonological processing significantly attenuated orthographic learning. Experiment 3 went on to show that this reduced orthographic learning was not attributable to alternative nonphonological factors (brief exposure durations or decontextualized presentation). The results of a fourth experiment suggested that the contribution of pure visual exposure to orthographic learning is marginal. It was concluded that phonological recoding is critical to the acquisition of word-specific orthographic representations as proposed by the self-teaching hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-129
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Israel Foundation Trustees. The author thanks Pieter Reitsma and Keith Stanovich for valuable discussions at various stages in the course of carrying out and writing up this research.


  • Children
  • Orthographic learning
  • Phonology
  • Reading development
  • Self-teaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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