A longitudinal study of literacy development in children with different linguistic abilities

Project: Research

Layman's description

What impact do early language problems have on reading and writing?
Are these early problems still noticeable after twelve years at school?
Which language abilities are necessary prerequisites for reading and writing and which are of less importance? We have tried to answer these questions by following the development of children with and without language disorders during their school career.

The participants consisted of 115 preschool children: some with language disorders and a matching control group with normal linguistic abilities. They were tested in preschool, in years 1, 3 and 4 of primary school and in upper secondary school.

In preschool the difference between the two groups was significant, both in terms of linguistic assignments and linguistic awareness, which indicates the effect of language level on linguistic awareness.

When decoding, reading comprehension and spelling were tested in the first grade, the group with language disorders showed clearly worse results than the control group. In the fourth grade, the remaining difference between the groups was found in reading comprehension.

At the end of upper secondary school, there was still no difference in terms of decoding. The type, not the number of spelling errors distinguished the two groups. Concerning comprehension there were still significant differences, not just with regard to texts read by the students but also as to listening comprehension, syntactically complex sentences and understanding of single words.

Thus many language disorders are not something one grows out of unless they only concern the phonological system. Language disorders characterized by insufficient ability to develop complex sentences, or by problems with comprehension, persist and are accompanied by worse language comprehension in both speech and writing, even after twelve years of schooling.
Effective start/end date1984/01/011998/12/31