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Orthographic advantage theory: National advantage and disadvantage arising from impacts of spelling complexity
journal contributionposted on 11.11.2019, 00:00 by Bruce KnightBruce Knight, Susan GalletlySusan Galletly, Pamela GargettPamela Gargett
Considerable research reports nations differ in orthographic complexity (regularity and consistency of spelling patterns used); that this impacts ease and speed of reading and writing development; and that, in contrast to the world’s many regular‐orthography nations, English word‐reading and word‐writing development is extremely slow, with difficulties more frequent and severe (Knight, Galletly & Gargett, 2017; Seymour, Aro, & Erskine, 2003; Share, 2008). Orthographic Advantage Theory proposes that, according to their level of orthographic complexity, nations experience disadvantage and potential advantage in multiple areas of education and national functioning. Building from current cross‐linguistic theories and research on cross‐linguistic differences, it proposes six dimensions of orthographic advantage and disadvantage, namely: ease of early literacy development; simplified school instruction and learning across primary and secondary school; ease of improving education; impacts of reduced workplace illiteracy; increased adult life advantage; and generational advantage through confidently literate parents being able to effectively support their children’s literacy development. This article details Orthographic Advantage Theory, building from review of research findings that show the major differences in reading development and outcomes in regular‐orthography and Anglophone nations. The theory is offered as a tool for educators and researchers towards optimising reading and literacy outcomes.