Spanish children learn to read and write their native tongue before English children can

Saturday, August 22, 2009

An article here in Spanish tells us of a most unsurprising study, one that confirms that children take less time to read and write a language like Spanish with its simple orthography, compared to the etymologically rich and varied clusterf*&k of an orthography that English has. Here's part of the article.

Spanish children learn to read and write before English children thanks to the fact that the writing system is simpler and that the relation between graphemes and phonemes is a very transparent one, according to a study from a group of experts from the University of Granada.

The work was coordinated by the psychologist and pedagogue Silvia Defior and is integrated into the European project ELDEL, which studies the processes of learning in the reading and writing of different languages. Defior explained that graphical representation is "much easier" in Spanish compared to English, which helps early learning, but still includes some inconsistencies with the difficulty in distinguishing between b and v, g and j, and c and z. (Note: one good example of the last one is casa - house vs. caza - hunt, pronounced the same)

The group from Granada is working with children in between 5 and 8 years of age and collaborates with various others in the province in order to learn about the acquisition of language in people with dyslexia or dysgraphia, as well as with those with Down syndrome or other specific language disorders.

The EDEL project aims to study the psycholinguistic and cognitive factors that affect the learning of the reading and writing of a language, that is, the relationship between memory, visual attention, morphological and syntactical aspects, but also the environment in which children learn.

The study includes five languages, which are English (Germanic), Spanish and French (Romance), and Czech and Slovak (Slavic), and has the participation of universities in different parts of Europe.
The language in which children have the easiest time learning to read and write would definitely be Finnish, and in terms of not only reading and writing but also grammar Turkish has been cited as the language most easily mastered as a mother tongue.

If you can read Spanish and want to read a few comments of discussion on the topic on Meneame (like Reddit or Digg in Spanish), see here.


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