Predicting individual differences in early literacy acquisition in German: The role of speech and language processing skills and letter knowledge

Silke Fricke*, Marcin Szczerbinski, Joy Stackhouse, Annette V. Fox-Boyer

*Corresponding author for this work
15 Citations (Scopus)


International research findings have repeatedly confirmed the significance of speech and language processing skills and letter knowledge for successful literacy acquisition. However, the importance of these skills for early literacy success in German speakers remains uncertain. The present longitudinal study aimed to explore this issue. Sixty-nine German-speaking children were assessed in nursery a few months before starting school (mean age 5;11) and in Grade 1 (mean age 6;11) with tests of phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming, expressive vocabulary, grammar comprehension, letter knowledge, and nonverbal reasoning. Grade 1 assessments also included measures of reading accuracy, speed, comprehension, and spelling. The results confirmed that speech and language processing skills and letter knowledge before and around the time of school enrolment explain individual differences in early literacy development, with letter knowledge and phonological awareness emerging as most important predictors. No variance in literacy performance was uniquely predicted by nonverbal reasoning.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWritten Language and Literacy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)103-146
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Research Areas and Centers

  • Health Sciences

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 206-08 Cognitive and Systemic Human Neuroscience
  • 205-20 Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine
  • 205-02 Public Health, Health Services Research and Social Medicine

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