The Effect of Orthographic Knowledge on Word Identification and Reading Comprehension of Iranian EFL Learners

Masoud Khalili Sabet, Omid Ostad


The present study attempts to employ orthographic knowledge enhancement as a tool in order to determine its efficiency in improving Iranian EFL learners’ reading comprehension. Orthographic knowledge can be defined as one’s familiarity with the general spelling rules of a language, or the ability to defer those letter combinations that are permissible form those that are not, which makes it an exceptional requirement for effective word identification and as a result successful reading comprehension skill. In doing so, 55 male and female students learning English at pre-intermediate level in a language institute in Astaneh, Guilan, Iran were randomly selected and were equally divided into an experimental and a control group. A researcher-made reading comprehension test followed by multiple-choice items as well as a word identification measure was given to both groups as a pre-test, and then the experimental group received the treatment in eighteen 30-minute sessions, in which the instructor taught skills to enhance students’ orthographic knowledge. Meanwhile, the control group did not receive any specific treatment. Finally the post-test, which was the same as the pre-test was administered. Their scores were calculated through computer softwares. The results indicated that raising orthographic knowledge results in significant improvement in both word identification and reading comprehension. The findings of this study can benefit EFL learners in improving their reading comprehension skill.



Orthographic knowledge, Word Identification, Reading comprehension, Iranian EFL Learners

Full Text:



Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Castles, A., & Nation, K. (2008). Learning to be a good orthographic reader. Journal of Research in

Reading, 31(1), 1–7.

Cunningham, A.E., & Stanovich, K.E. (1993). Children's literacy environments and early word recognition subskills. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 5(2), 193–204.

Cunningham, A. E., Perry, K. E., & Stanovich, K. E. (2001). Converging evidence for the concept of orthographic processing. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 14(5), 549-568.

Ehri, L.C. (2005). Learning to read words: Theory, findings, and issues. Scientific Studies of Reading, 9(2), 167–188.

Fukkink, R. G., Hulstin, J., Simis, A. (2005). Does training in second-language word recognition skills affect reading comprehension? Modern Language Journal,89(1), 54-75.

Geva, E. (2006). Second-language oral proficiency and second-language literacy. In D. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.), Developing literacy in second-language learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language - Minority Children and Youth (pp.123-139). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Goodman, K. S. (2006). A critical review of DIBELS. In K. S. Goodman (Ed.), The truth about DIBELS: What it is, what it does (pp. 1-39). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Grabe, W. (2004). Research on teaching reading. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 44-69.

Graddol, D. (1997). The future of English? A guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century. London: British Council.

Hagiliassis, N., Pratt, C., & Johnston, M. (2006). Orthographic and phonological processes in reading. Reading and Writing, 19(3), 235-263.

Harm, M., & Seidenberg, M.S. (1999). Reading acquisition, phonology, and dyslexia: Insights from a connectionist model. Psychological Review, 106(3), 491-528.

Jean, M., & Geva, E. (2009). The development of vocabulary in English as a second language children and its role in predicting word recognition ability. Applied Psycholinguistics, 30(1), 153-185.

Juel C., Griffith P. L., & Gough P. B. (1986). Acquisition of literacy: A longitudinal study of children in first and second grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(4), 243-255.

Koda, K. (2005). Insights into Second Language Reading: A Cross-linguistic Approach.NY: Cambridge University Press.

Koda, K. (2007). Reading and language learning: Crosslinguistic constraints on second language reading development. Language Learning, 57(Supplement 1), 1–44.

Nation, K., & Snowling, M. J. (2004). Beyond phonological skills: Broader language skills contribute to the development of reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 27(4),342– 356.

Manis, F.R., Seidenberg, M., Doi, L.M., McBride-Chang, C., & Petersen, A. (1996). On the bases of two subtypes of developmental dyslexia. Cognition, 58(2), 157–195.

Mehrpour, S., Safighi, F., & Bagheri, Z. (2012) Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies to Iranian EFL Pre-University Students. The Journal of Teaching Language Skill. 66/4, 108-139

Ostad, O., & Tarang, M. (2015). The effect of schematic knowledge on Iranian EFL learners’ reading comprehension. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature. 4(6):154-159

Perfetti, C.A. (1984). Reading ability. In R. Sternberg (Ed.), Human abilities: An information processing approach (pp. 59-81). New York: W. H. Freeman and Co.

Perfetti, C. A. (1985). Reading Ability. New York: Oxford University Press.

Perfetti, C.A. (1992). The representation problem in reading acquisition. In P. Gough, L. Ehri & R. Treiman (Eds.), Reading acquisition (pp. 145–174). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Perfetti, C.A., & Hart, L. (2002). The lexical quality hypothesis. In L. Vehoeven. C. Elbro, & P. Reitsma (Eds.), Precursors of functional literacy (pp. 189-213). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Ricketts, J., Nation, K., & Bishop, D. V. M. (2007). Vocabulary is important for some, but not all reading skills. Scientific Studies of Reading,11(3), 235–257.

Roman, A., Kirby, J., Parilla, R., Wade-Woolley, L., & Deacon, S. H. (2009). Towards a comprehensive view of the skills involved in word reading in Grades 4, 6, and 8. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 102(1), 96-113.

Saville-Troike, M. (1984). What really matters in second language learning for academic achievement? TESOL Quarterly, 18(2), 199–219.

Scholes, R. J. (1998). The case against phonemic awareness. Journal of Research in Reading, 21(3), 177–188.

Shankweiler, D., & Fowler, A. E. (2004). Questions people ask about the role of phonological processes in learning to read. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 17(5), 483-515.

Share, D.L. (1995). Phonological recoding and self-teaching: Sine qua non of reading acquisition. Cognition, 55(2), 151–218.

Stanovich, K.E., & West, R.F. (1989). Exposure to print and orthographic processing. Reading Research Quarterly, 24(4): 402–433.

Stanovich, K. E., West, R. F., & Cunningham, A. E. (1991). Beyond phonological processes: Print exposure and orthographic processing. In S. Brady & D. Shankweiler (Eds.), Phonological processes in literacy (pp. 219–235). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Stanovich, K. E. (1992). Speculations on the causes and consequences of individual differences in early reading acquisition. In P. B. Gough, L. C. Ehri, & R. Treiman (Eds.), Reading acquisition (pp. 307-342). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Vellutino, F. R., Scanlon, D. M., & Tanzman, M. S. (1994). Components of reading ability: Issues and problems in operationalizing word identification, phonological coding, and orthographic coding. In G.R. Lyon (Ed.), Frames of reference for the assessment of learning disabilities: New views on measurement issues (pp. 279-329). Baltimore, MD: Paul.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.