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This experiment investigated orthographic learning via self-teaching in 8- and 9-year-olds learning to read English. Children were exposed to novel words, and following a 1- or 7-day delay interval, orthographic learning was assessed by asking children to select previously seen novel words from an array of visually and phonologically similar foils. Novel words were exposed either in meaningful text or in isolation, and number of exposures was manipulated with each novel word appearing once, twice, or four times. Learning increased as a function of number of exposures, although some evidence of durable one-trial learning was observed. Context played no role, suggesting that orthographic learning is not dependent on meaning-based information. In general, these findings offer support for the central aspects of Share's self-teaching hypothesis. However, although we observed a general relation between phonological decoding and orthographic learning, the relation did not hold at an item-by-item level of analysis, suggesting that a strong version of Share's item-based account is not correct.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Child Psychol

Publication Date





71 - 84


Analysis of Variance, Child, Cues, England, Humans, Learning, Phonetics, Practice (Psychology), Reading, Teaching, Time Factors