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Characterization of reading errors in languages with different orthographic regularity: an Italian-English comparison
The study examined whether a classification of errors based on Hendriks and Kolk’s (1997)proposal would effectively characterize the reading profile of children learning two orthographiesvarying for regularity, such as Italian and English. The study considered both an age-match and agrade-match comparison. Offline analysis of error production was carried out for two lists ofstimuli: List 1 including regular words varying for frequency and matched non-words and List 2including low-frequency words varying for regularity. In List 1, Italian reading children made moremultiple attempts characterized by a slow and progressive approach to the target (sounding-outbehavior) than English reading children, while these latter exceeded the Italian ones for wordsubstitutions and non-word lexicalizations. As for List 2, Italian reading children again exceededthe English ones for multiple attempts and progressive approach to the target (with more sounding-out behaviors and syllabications), while the opposite occurred for phonological-visual errors, wordsubstitutions, morphological, and semantic errors. Both groups showed a high proportion ofphonological-visual and regularization errors (stress assignment in the case of Italian children).Overall, the use of an error coding system specifically tuned to the characteristics of theorthographies investigated allowed a more comprehensive identification of reading difficultieswhich made emerge more clearly the different strategies used by children of different language inreaching orthographic proficiency (more reliance on the sub-lexical routine in Italian readers and onlexical routines in English readers). These results call for more attention to error patterns in theidentification of reading difficulties in children of different languages including those learning atransparent orthography where error analyses have largely been ignored.