chapter  8
Reading and spelling development in transparent alphabetic orthographies: points of convergence, divergence and arising issues SELMA BABAYIG˘IT
Pages 16

Research in different writing systems has established beyond doubt that alongside many similarities, there are also important differences in the way in which reading and spelling develop across languages (Joshi & Aaron, 2006). Different languages and orthographies can make differential demands on the cognitive-linguistic systems that underlie literacy development, thereby giving rise to different patterns of relationships (Perfetti & Bolger, 2004). It is primarily for this reason that research on different writing systems is important to clarify the complex triad of relationships between language, orthography, and literacy. Orthographic transparency, broadly defined as the level of consistency in grapheme-

phoneme relationships, and its effect on literacy development has attracted much research attention. English is one of the most opaque writing systems with many inconsistent and complex grapheme-phoneme relationships. Therefore, it provides a benchmark for comparison with transparent orthographies characterised by simple and consistent grapheme-phoneme relationships, such as Finnish and Turkish. The primary aim of this chapter is to pull together the diverse research evidence

from studies conducted in English and transparent alphabetic orthographies in relation to reading and spelling development and to highlight the common as well as divergent points. The chapter also highlights a number of methodological and conceptual issues that need to be considered for a coherent evaluation of the role of phonological awareness in transparent writing systems. Theories of reading and spelling have developed based mainly on evidence from

studies in English. I begin, therefore, with an overview of the theories of reading and spelling development in English. The subsequent sections build upon this background knowledge and evaluate the research evidence from transparent orthographies.