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Early decoding speed and later reading competencies in children with German as a second language

In Germany, 35 % of children under the age of five have a migration background. Many of them acquire German as a second language (GSL).

Until today, little is known about the development of early reading skills in these children. The aim of the present study was to compare the development of decoding speed and reading comprehension from Grade 1 to Grade 3 in GSL and native German speaking children.

The study especially focused on children who showed poor decoding speed in Grade 1. Results indicated an increase in the achievement gap in measures of reading comprehension between the two language groups. In decoding speed, GSL children showed a tendency toward improving less than their native German speaking peers. In Grade 1 as well as in Grade 3, a large proportion of GSL children showed reading performances which placed them in the lowest 15 % of the test norms: At each of the measurement points, the proportion of GSL poor decoders and GSL poor reading comprehenders was twice as high as expected by test norms and substantially higher than in native German speaking children.

Furthermore, results indicated that the discrepancy between measures of nonverbal intelligence and reading performance is not a reliable indicator for specific reading disabilities in GSL children.

Duzy, Dagmar; Souvignier, Elmar; Ehm, Jan-Henning; Gold, Andreas: Early decoding speed and later reading competencies in children with German as a second language, in: Child Indicators Research, 7 (2014) 4, 787-804

last modified Jul 21, 2015