ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (10): 1270-1281.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.01270

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The cognitive characteristics and influential factors of Chinese word callers in primary school

LI Liping1,2; WU Xinchun2; ZHOU Ningning3; CHENG Yahua4; NGUYEN Thi Phuong2   

  1. (1 School of Teachers Education, Experimental Teaching Center of Psychology and Cognitive Behavior, Shanxi Normal University, Linfen 041004, China) (2 School of Psychology, Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, Research Center of Children’s Reading and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (3 Shannxi Ankang Gaoxin Middle School, Ankang 725000, China) (4 Department of Psychology, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, China)
  • Received:2016-01-22 Published:2016-10-25 Online:2016-10-25
  • Contact: WU Xinchun, E-mail:


According to the Simple View of Reading, reading comprehension is the product of word decoding and linguistic comprehension. Both components are necessary for reading comprehension, but neither is sufficient alone. If a child can read words quickly and accurately, but does not understand the meaning of words, he or she will not understand the text. Some readers can efficiently decode the words in the text into their spoken forms without comprehending the passage. These students are called word callers. Although many researchers agree that word callers indeed exist in reading comprehension, few studies pay attention to Chinese word callers and the factors that may impact poor comprehension in Chinese word callers are unknown. The present cross-sectional study involved 840 students (428 males, 412 females) from grade 1 to grade 6 in two primary schools of Shanxi province, China. At the beginning of autumn semester, a battery of measures were administered, including IQ, word list reading, reading comprehension, homophone awareness, homograph awareness, compound word production, character recognition, vocabulary definition and working memory. ANOVAs and logistic regression were conducted to answer three research questions: (1) What was the prevalence of word callers for Chinese children? (2) What were the linguistic and cognitive characteristics of word callers? (3) What are the underlying difficulties in reading comprehension for word callers? The results showed: (1) The prevalence of word callers in Chinese primary schools was similar to that of alphabetic language reader, ranging from 0.7% ~ 10.1% in grade 1 to grade 6. The prevalence of word callers in the first grade was 0.7%, and the prevalence was between 6.5% and 10.1% after the second grade; (2) Controlling for age and IQ, word callers performed better than typical readers in character recognition, however, word callers had poorer performance in morphological awareness and vocabulary definition; (3) The logistical analysis showed that age and IQ contributed to the prevalence rate of word caller, and both standard regression coefficients were significant (β = 0.87, p<0.001; β = −0.43, p < 0.001 respectively); (4) As the linguistic factors, homophone awareness and vocabulary also contributed to the incidence rate of word caller (β = −0.28, p < 0.05; β = −0.30, p < 0.05 respectively). The results demonstrated that not only the general factors (e.g. age and IQ) but also the linguistic and cognitive factors (e.g. homophone awareness and vocabulary) impact poor comprehension in word callers. The phenomenon of word caller in the current study indicates that there is a gap between word reading fluency and reading comprehension for some Chinese elementary-age children. Understanding word caller has both theoretical and practical implication for improving reading instruction.

Key words: Chinese children, word caller, cognitive process, morphological awareness, vocabulary