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Publications and research studies

Our founders are world-experts in children’s reading, language, and memory skills – named among the 2023 top psychology scientists in the world. Explore key publications and research papers they have published below.

Looking for research around the NELI programme? Read more on our assessments and intervention evidence page.


Key research papers

Children’s Language Skills Can Be Improved: Lessons from Psychological Science for Educational Policy (2020)

Charles Hulme, Margaret J. Snowling, Gillian West, Arne Lervåg, and Monica Melby-Lervåg
Current Directions in Psychological Science
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  • Oral language is essential for social interaction and classroom learning as well as being the foundation for reading comprehension.
  • Children with language difficulties are at a higher risk of educational failure.
  • Recent studies have demonstrated significant improvements in children’s oral language through targeted language interventions.
  • Language interventions can also have positive effects on reading comprehension.

Defining and understanding, dyslexia: past, present and future (2020)

Margaret J. Snowling, Charles Hulme, and Kate Nation
Oxford Review of Education
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  • Dyslexia is a difficulty in learning to decode (read aloud) and to spell.
  • Initially, dyslexia was considered a specific learning difficulty, meaning it could not be explained in terms of obvious causes such as sensory problems or general learning difficulties.
  • Failure to find qualitative differences in reading and phonological skills, between children with dyslexia and children with more general learning problems led this kind of ‘discrepancy’ definition to fall from favour.
  • This paper argues that loosening the criteria for dyslexia has influenced common understanding of the condition and led to diagnostic confusion.

The Foundations of Literacy Development in Children at Familial Risk of Dyslexia (2015)

Charles Hulme, Hannah M. Nash, Debbie Gooch, Arne Lervåg, and Margaret J. Snowling
Association for Psychological Science
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  • The development of reading skills is underpinned by oral language abilities.
  • Preschool measures of oral language predict phoneme awareness and grapheme-phoneme knowledge before starting school, which in turn predict word-level literacy skills shortly after school entry.
  • Reading comprehension at 8.5 years is predicted by word-level literacy skills at 5.5 years and language skills at 3.5 years.
  • The predictive relationships between language skills, literacy skills and reading comprehension are similar for typically developing children and those at risk of literacy difficulties.
  • These findings underline the importance of oral language skills for the development of both word-level literacy and reading comprehension.

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