Reading scripts that differ in orthographic transparency: A within-participant-and-language investigation of underlying skills

Irit Bar-Kochva, Zvia Breznitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spelling-sound transparency varies across orthographies. This aspect was found to have implications for the strategy of reading, but whether reading of different orthographies also relies differently on cognitive skills is yet unclear. This question was examined mainly by cross-participant-and-language investigations in which orthographic variation is hard to isolate. This work examined this topic using a within-participant-and-language study design. Hebrew readers in Grades 3 and 4 were longitudinally tested because in these grades they are engaged in reading three forms of script, transcribing the same language and varying in spelling-sound relations, as they gradually progress from reading a transparent orthography to reading an opaque one. Phonological awareness explained a considerable amount of variance in accuracy in reading all forms of script across these two years. The relations of morphological awareness with accuracy in reading the three forms of script were similar; however, the results suggested that these may be associated with the course of transition. Phonological awareness and rapid naming were similarly related to fluency in reading all forms of script when equivalent proficiencies in reading of these scripts were achieved. At this stage, the relations of vocabulary with fluency in reading and comprehension of the transparent and opaque forms of script were also much alike. Phonological memory explained a modest, but significant, amount of variance in comprehension of the unpointed script alone. These results suggest that, apart from phonological memory, the cognitive skills tested in this study serve as a common cognitive infrastructure in reading orthographies varying in spelling-sound transparency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-27
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this research was provided by the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation. The authors are greatly indebted to Meirav Amiel for her dedicated assistance in data collection as well as to the schools and participants.


  • Morphological awareness
  • Orthographic depth
  • Orthographic transparency
  • Orthography
  • Phonological awareness
  • Rapid automatized naming
  • Reading
  • Reading development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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