Purpose Orthographic facilitation describes the phenomenon in which a spoken word is produced more accurately when its corresponding written word is present during learning. We examined the orthographic facilitation effect in children with dyslexia because they have poor learning and recall of spoken words. We hypothesized that including orthography during spoken word learning would facilitate learning and recall.
Method Children with dyslexia and children with typical development (n= 46 per group), 7–9 years old, were matched for grade and nonverbal intelligence. Across 4 blocks of exposure in 1 session, children learned pairings between 4 spoken pseudowords and novel semantic referents in a modified paired-associate learning task. Two of the pairings were presented with orthography present, and 2 were presented with orthography absent. Recall of newly learned spoken words was assessed using a naming task.
Results Both groups showed orthographic facilitation during learning and naming. During learning, both groups paired pseudowords and referents more accurately when orthography was present. During naming, children with typical development showed a large orthographic facilitation effect that increased across blocks. For children with dyslexia, this effect was present initially but then plateaued.
Conclusions We demonstrate for the first time that children with dyslexia benefit from orthographic facilitation during spoken word learning. These findings have direct implications for teaching spoken vocabulary to children with dyslexia.
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