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date: 03 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

There is strong evidence that word reading and spelling ability in English is founded on three core skills, namely knowledge of letters of the alphabet, awareness of phonemes in spoken words, and rapid automatized naming of visual stimuli (RAN). We suggest that these abilities represent cognitive constructs that comprise the triple foundation of literacy in all languages. In the present chapter we review the research carried out in different writing systems to assess the extent to which this triple foundation provides a good language-general model of early literacy development. The evidence is considered in the context of potentially important moderating, language-specific influences of orthographic variables, especially symbol-sound mapping consistency. We propose that the triple foundation model, conceptualized as (1) knowledge of the functional symbol set of the orthography, (2) awareness of the speech units to which orthographic symbols map, and (3) efficient mappings between the representational systems of orthographic symbols and their related speech units provides a universally valid description of the cognitive architecture underlying early literacy development.

Keywords: Reading, spelling, cross-linguistic, foundation model, predictors, alphabetic, partial-alphabetic, nonalphabetic orthography, phoneme awareness, RAN, letters, symbols

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