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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2021

Henry Brice
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Noam Siegelman
Haskins Laboratories
Mark van den Bunt
Haskins Laboratories
Stephen J. Frost
Haskins Laboratories
Jay G. Rueckl
Haskins Laboratories and University of Connecticut
Kenneth R. Pugh
Haskins Laboratories, University of Connecticut, and Yale University
Ram Frost
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Haskins Laboratories, and University of Connecticut


Statistical learning (SL) approaches to reading maintain that proficient reading requires assimilation of rich statistical regularities in the writing system. Reading skills in developing first-language readers are predicted by individual differences in sensitivity to regularities in mappings from orthography to phonology (O-P) and semantics (O-S), where good readers rely more on O-P consistency, and less on O-S associations. However, how these regularities are leveraged by second-language (L2) learners remains an open question. We utilize an individual-differences approach, measuring L2 English learners’ sensitivity to O-P, O-S, and frequency during word-naming, across two years of immersion. We show that reliance on O-P is leveraged by better readers, while reliance on O-S is slower to develop, characterizing less proficient readers. All factors explain substantial individual variance in L2 reading skills. These findings show how SL plays a key role in L2 reading development through its role in assimilating sublexical regularities between print and speech.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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This study was supported by the ERC advanced grant awarded to Ram Frost (project 692502-L2STAT), the Israel Science Foundation (grant 217/14 awarded to Ram Frost), and by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (RO1 HD 067364 awarded to Kenneth Pugh and Ram Frost, and PO1 HD 01994 awarded to Jay Rueckl).

The experiment in this article earned Open Materials and Open Data badges for transparent practices. The materials and data are available at and



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