The different level of transparency of letter-sound mapping in various orthographies has been found to influence reading development across languages. The Hebrew orthography represents a special case of within language design with two versions of the script, a transparent (vowelized) and an opaque one (unvowelized). In this study we conducted a within and between comparison of word reading fluency and accuracy of English- and Hebrew-speaking children in fourth grade. In addition, the role of phonological awareness and vocabulary in predicting word reading in each language was examined. Findings suggest different trends for fluency and accuracy measures, with Hebrew-speaking children performing higher on word reading accuracy, and significantly lower on reading fluency. Phonological awareness was found to be a universal predictor of word reading in both languages. Vocabulary had an independent contribution to word reading only in English, indicating a unique role of verbal abilities to inconsistent orthographies.
Katzir, T., Schiff, R. & Kim, Y.S. (2012)
The effects of orthographic consistency on reading development: A within and between cross-linguistic study of fluency and accuracy among fourth grade English- and Hebrew-speaking children. Learning and Individual Differences, 22 (6), 673-679