Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 14: 395–421, 2001.
© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Beginning readers’ sensitivity to different linguistic levels:
An error and correction analysis at the lexical, syntactic, and
Department of Scandinavian Languages, Stockholm University, Sweden
Abstract. As the ﬁrst step in a longitudinal investigation of Swedish beginning readers’
reading behaviour, this study investigated the role of different linguistic levels in begin-
ning readers’ oral reading. The 30 participating beginning readers were all able to read a
short running text without help. Recordings of their oral readings of unfamiliar texts were
video-recorded, transcribed and analysed as to linguistic consequences of reading errors, and
tendency to correct errors with different linguistic consequences. The results reveal that the
readers are sensitive to all of the linguistic levels analysed: the majority of reading errors
lead to acceptable linguistic consequences, regardless of what linguistic level is analysed;
moreover linguistically unacceptable errors were signiﬁcantly more frequently corrected than
linguistically acceptable errors, independent of the linguistic level affected by the error.
Keywords: Beginning readers, Correction Behaviour, Error analysis, Linguistic sensitivity,
Oral reading, Reading acquisition
Abbreviations: NC – No correction; SC – Successful correction; SemAcc – Semantically
acceptable in whole sentence; SemAccU – Semantically acceptable up to and including read-
ing error; SemInc – Semantically incorrect; SyntAcc – Syntactically acceptable in whole
sentence; SyntAccU – Syntactically acceptable up to and including reading error; SyntInc
– Syntactically incorrect; UC – Unsuccessful correction
This article presents results from the ﬁrst step in a longitudinal investigation
which seeks to describe some aspects of a number of beginning readers’
reading behaviour. This study, which is basically quantitative, focuses on the
role of different linguistic levels in the reading process, primarily the lexical,
syntactic, and semantic levels.
Most of reading research today primarily concerns the decoding of lower
linguistic levels, such as phonemes, syllables, or onsets and rimes (e.g. Ehri
1992; Ehri & Robbins 1992; Goswami & Bryant 1990; Greaney et al. 1997;
Treiman 1992). The importance of the phonological level in the reading
process, e.g. the role that early phonemic awareness plays for success in