CORDIS - EU research results

the Study of Orthographic Learning

Project description

Checking the relationship between spelling and reading

Orthographic learning (OL) describes the progression of reading from a system heavily reliant on alphabetic decoding to one that involves word recognition. Understanding how OL works is key to improving literacy and assisting children who may be struggling with literacy acquisition. The EU-funded SOL project will explore whether OL-Spelling (the skill of learning how to spell a word) may not be related to OL-Reading (the ability to automatise the reading of a word). To answer this question, the project will carry out a multidisciplinary study using cutting-edge neuroimaging technology. It will also assess whether the neural correlates of OL differ depending on the type of OL being assessed.


Literacy acquisition can become a developmental bottleneck for a significant percentage of otherwise-competent children, preventing them from adequate progress in education. One key concept which is both, crucial to attain literacy proficiency, yet a severely understudied topic, is Orthographic Learning (OL). OL refers to the transition that a written word makes from being initially unfamiliar to becoming familiar, so that the word can be spelled accurately and read automatically. However, there are reasons to believe that, contrary to current OL theory, the skill of learning how to spell a word (OL-Spelling) might not be related to the ability to automatise the reading of a word (OL-Reading). This would result in a drastic revision of literacy acquisition theory. Therefore, the main scientific aim of the Study of Orthographic Learning (SOL) is to clarify whether there is a single OL system or two independent OL systems. To meet this goal, SOL will carry out two studies. Study 1 (Cádiz and Gibraltar) will 1) assess to what extent does OL-Reading correlate with OL-Spelling, 2) examine whether the cognitive predictors of OL-Reading and OL-Spelling differ, and 3) explore how the interaction between orthographic depth (English vs. Spanish) and OL clarifies whether there is one or two OL systems. Profiting from cutting-edge neuroimaging technology, Study 2 (BCBL, San Sebastián) will assess if the neural correlates of OL vary depending on the type of OL being assessed. Moreover, one H2020 cross‐cutting priority and two Europe 2020 Flagship Initiatives are i) promoting fairness in education from an early age, ii) contributing to creating an excellent education system and iii) preventing school-failure by improving literacy early on. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, SOL will address these societal aims by implementing a teacher-training course on how to identify and help children at risk of developing OL-deficits using a novel OL-prediction test battery.


Net EU contribution
€ 172 932,48
11003 Cadiz

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Sur Andalucía Cádiz
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 172 932,48