Terms used by researchers when discussing literacy

decoding
the process of translating writing into words that can be spoken aloud; researchers may also use the term to refer to a child’s accuracy in reading words aloud (see definition of reading accuracy below)
reading accuracy
the accuracy of reading is often used to assess children’s decoding abilities; this usually involves seeing how well a child can translate written words into spoken words
reading
this term is used in different ways by different authors, sometimes just to refer to the process of decoding, and sometimes to refer to both decoding and reading comprehension
reading comprehension
the understanding of written text
phonological ability
the ability to identify the speech sounds that make up a word
nonword reading
the ability to read a word that is not present in the child’s language (e.g. ‘lam’); this gives a good indication of children’s ability to decode letters into sounds
literacy
decoding, reading comprehension and spelling
rhyme skills
the ability to identify the ending of words; often children are asked which one of three words has a different ending (e.g. cat, bat, sun)
alliteration skills
the ability to identify the beginning sound of a word; often children are asked which one of three words has a different beginning sound.

Note: both rhyme and alliteration skills are aspects of phonological awareness.

Copyrighted image Credit: Nikolai Sorokin | Dreamstime.com

Further reading and references

Barrett, M. (ed.) (1999) The Development of Language Hove: Psychology Press
Bishop, D. (1997) Uncommon Understanding Hove: Psychology Press
Dockrell, J. and Messer, D. J. (1999) Language Disabilities in Children London: Cassell
Messer, D. (1999) The development of communication and language In Messer, D. and Millar, S. (eds) Exploring Developmental Psychology London: Arnold
Nicolson, R. (1999) Reading skill and dyslexia In Messer, D. and Millar, S. (eds) Exploring Developmental Psychology London: Arnold
Snowling, M. (2000) Dyslexia Oxford: Blackwell.

Reading and child development: Research findings