Dolean, Lervåg, Visu-Petra & Melby-Lervåg (2021): Language skills, and not executive functions, predict the development of reading comprehension of early readers: evidence from an orthographically transparent language
I: Reading and Writing, Online first, Open Access
Dacian Doria Dolean, Arne Lervåg, Laura Visu-Petra & Monica Melby-Lervåg.
The simple view of reading proposes that the development of reading comprehension in early elementary school is best predicted by children’s fluent decoding and oral language skills. Recent studies challenge this view and suggest that executive functions should also be included in this theoretical model; however, the empirical evidence is not strong enough to clearly support or refute this hypothesis. In this short-term longitudinal study, we used latent variables to test whether executive functions have direct effects on the development of reading comprehension in 184 Romanian second graders, beyond fluent decoding and oral language skills. The results indicated that the initial stages of reading comprehension were associated with executive functions, but only the language skills could independently predict the development of reading comprehension. Our findings show that executive functions do not have a significant direct effect on the development of reading comprehension in early readers beyond fluent decoding and oral language skills in languages with transparent orthography. The results also suggest that once children learn to decode well, their language skills (and not their executive functions) have a strong effect on the development of reading comprehension. Therefore, reading interventions in elementary school should stress on the development of oral language skills.