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Contributions of vocabulary and discourse-level skills to reading comprehension among Chinese elementary school children



Decoding and language comprehension skills have been found to be the core components of reading comprehension across many writing systems. The present study examined the contributions of vocabulary and some discourse-level skills to reading comprehension in Chinese in addition to that of decoding. One hundred and seventeen Chinese second and third graders in Hong Kong were tested on decoding, vocabulary, discourse-level skills, and verbal working memory. Results of multiple regression analyses showed that the discourse-level skills contributed an additional 5% of variance to reading comprehension over decoding, vocabulary, and other control variables, and all factors accounted for a total of 70% variance in reading comprehension. Further path analysis showed that all the direct paths of word reading, vocabulary, text-structure knowledge, and topic knowledge to reading comprehension were significant. Vocabulary also contributed to reading comprehension through indirect paths to discourse-level knowledge. The present findings support the simple view of reading with elaborations on the language comprehension component, namely, (a) vocabulary is a foundational language skill for text comprehension through its role on discourse-level knowledge, and (b) some discourse-level knowledge also plays an important role in passage comprehension.


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ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Connie Suk-Han Ho, Psychology Department, University of Hong Kong, Room 661, 6/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong. E-mail:


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