Spearman Medal Lecture: Reading & Language in Children:Exposing hidden deficits

KATE NATION gave her Spearman Medal Lecture at the London Conference in December.
There's no doubt that learning to read is a complicated business. The first lesson children must learn is that English is an alphabetic language – letters and groups of letters map on to pronunciations in a systematic way. This is not easy, particularly in a language such as English where the relationship between orthography(print)and phonology (sound)is only quasi-regular. Young children must surely be bemused to learn that the words beat, street, ski, theme and thief all contain the same vowel pronunciation, that steak and teak look very similar yet sound very different, and that despite looking different and having distinct meanings weak and week have identical pronunciations.

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