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Psychology - United Kingdom

Research topics


Early development of alphabetic literacy skills in European languages: In search of universals and language-specifics in theory and applications.

Alphabetic orthographies may differ from one another in myriad ways to reflect their corresponding spoken languages, although, all are based on the alphabetic principle, that letters roughly represent speech sounds. To what extent do variations in the characteristics of written languages affect the cognitive processes involved in learning to read and write? Furthermore, how best can the signs of literacy difficulties be detected in a given language? Are the early indicators of literacy failure similar, or are different diagnostic protocols required for each language? The current project addresses the above questions in two main cross-linguistic activities: a monograph focusing on studies of spelling development, and, the validation of a literacy assessment tool. Drawing on extensive data and materials produced during a longitudinal, multinational study (FP7, Marie Curie ITN programme – ELDEL) of literacy development in the orthographically diverse languages of English, French, Spanish, Czech, and Slovak, both activities have direct implications for educational practice. The monograph focuses on spelling development, an under-researched cornerstone skill of literacy, which offers rich insights into how knowledge of printed language is acquired by more or less skilled learners. This work will substantially advance understanding of the universal versus language-specific aspects of alphabetic spelling development. In the second activity, a new web-based tool for evaluating early literacy development -- the Multilanguage Assessment Battery of Early Literacy (MABEL) -- will be extended to the French language. MABEL contains 15 key assessments of early literacy, validated in previous research. The addition of French to the first multi-language battery of its type (current versions: English, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Welsh), will represent a major advancement in the early identification of literacy difficulty among learners of European orthographies.

Activities / Resume


Markéta Caravolas is Reader in Psychology at Bangor University, Wales, UK. She completed her doctorate in Psychology at McGill University in 1996 after spending the first part of her career as a teacher and clinician in Montreal working with children with specific disorders of learning. Since 1997, she has undertaken an academic career in the United Kingdom where, in addition, she directed the Miles Dyslexia Centre (2008 -2014). Her research interests are in literacy development and its disorders and her scholarship spans theory and practice. She focuses on developmental psycholinguistics and early literacy, phonological and spelling development, and a special feature of her work is its cross-linguistic perspective on language-general and language-specific factors in reading and spelling development. She has published extensively on these topics, and, has authored several batteries for the assessment and diagnosis of literacy difficulties in different languages.


  • Caravolas, M., Mikulajová, M., Defior, S., & Seidlová Málková, G. (2020). Multilanguage Assessment Battery of Early Literacy. Available online:
  • Caravolas, M., Downing, C., Hadden, C. L., & Wynne, C. (2020). Handwriting Legibility and Its Relationship to Spelling Ability and Age: Evidence From Monolingual and Bilingual Children. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01097
  • Caravolas, M., Kucharská, A., & Mikulajová, M. (2019). Dyslexia in Czech and Slovak. In Verhoeven, L., Perfetti, C., and Pugh, K., (Eds). Dyslexia in different writing systems. Cambridge University Press.
  • Salas, N., & Caravolas, M. (2019). Dimensionality of early writing in English and Spanish. Journal of Literacy Research, 51, 272-292.
  • Caravolas, M., Lervåg, A., Defior, S., Mikulajová, M., Seidlová Málková, G., & Hulme, C. (2019). Predicting reading comprehension across alphabetic languages: A validation of the Simple View of Reading. Scientific Studies of Reading. Online First.
  • Treiman, R., Kessler, B. & Caravolas, M. (2018). Measures of spelling ability in young children. Journal of Research in Reading, 42, 80-96.
  • Caravolas, M. & Volín, J. (2018). BDTG2: Baterie diagnostických testů gramotnostních dovedností pro žáky 6. až 9. ročníku ZŠ – Teoretická příručka testu. [Battery of diagnostic tests of literacy skills for pupils in 6th to 9th grades of primary school – Theoretical manual.]. Prague: NÚV. ISBN 978-80-7481-220-0
  • Caravolas, M. (2017). Learning to read Czech and Slovak. In C. Perfetti and L. Verhoeven (Eds.). Learning to Read across Languages and Writing Systems. Cambridge University Press.
  • Caravolas, M. (2017). The Growth of Word and Pseudoword Reading Efficiency in Alphabetic Orthographies: Impact of Consistency. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 51, 422-433.
  • Samara, A., & Caravolas, M. (2017). Artificial grammar learning in dyslexic and nondyslexic adults. Scientific Studies of Reading, 21, 76-97.
  • Caravolas, M., & Samara, A. (2015). Learning to read and spell words in different writing systems. In A. Pollatsek and R. Treiman (Eds.). Oxford Handbook of Reading. OUP.
  • Samara, A., & Caravolas, M. (2014). Statistical learning of novel graphotactic patterns in children and adults. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 121, 137-155.
  • Caravolas, M., Lervåg, A., Defior, S., Seidlová Málková, G., & Hulme, C. (2013). Different patterns, but equivalent predictors, of growth in reading in consistent and inconsistent orthographies. Psychological Science, 24, 1398-1407. doi: 10.1177/0956797612473122.
  • Caravolas, M., Lervåg, A., Mousikou, P., Effrim, C., Litavský, M., Onochie-Quintanilla, E., Salas, N., Schöffelová, M., Defior, S., Mikulajová, M., Seidlová-Málková, G., & Hulme, C. (2012). Common patterns of prediction of literacy development in different alphabetic orthographies. Psychological Science, 23(6), 678–686. doi:10.1177/0956797611434536 (Sage Choice Article)
  • Caravolas, M. & Landerl, K. (2010). Language-specific and universal effects on the development of phoneme awareness: The role of phonotactics. Scientific Studies of Reading, 14, 464-484.
  • Caravolas, M. (2005). The manifestations and nature of dyslexia in different languages. In M. Snowling, & C. Hulme (Eds.) The Science of Reading, A Handbook (pp. 336-361). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  • Caravolas, M. (2005). Learning to spell in different languages: How orthographic variables might affect early literacy. In M. Joshi and P. Aaron (Eds.) Handbook of orthography and literacy (pp. 497-511). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Caravolas, M., Volín, J., & Hulme, C. (2005). Phoneme awareness is a key component of alphabetic literacy skills in consistent and inconsistent orthographies: Evidence from Czech and English children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 92, 107-139.
  • Caravolas, M., Kessler, B., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. (2005). Effects of orthographic consistency, word frequency, and phonological skill on English children’s vowel spelling development. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 92 307-321.
  • Hulme, C., Caravolas, M., Málková, G., & Birgstocke, S. (2005). Phoneme isolation ability is not simply a consequence of letter-sound knowledge. Cognition, 97, B1-B11.
  • Caravolas, M. (2004). Spelling development in alphabetic writing systems: A cross-linguistic perspective. European Psychologist, 9, 3-14.
  • Caravolas, M. & Volín, J. (2001). Spelling errors among dyslexic children learning a transparent orthography: The case of Czech. Dyslexia: An International Journal of Research and Practice, 7, 229-245.
  • Caravolas, M., Hulme, C. & Snowling, M. (2001). The foundations of spelling ability: Evidence from a three-year longitudinal study. Journal of Memory and Language, 45, 751-774.
  • Caravolas, M. & Bruck, M. (2000). Vowel categorization skill and its relationship to early literacy skills among first grade, Québec-French children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 76, 190-221.
  • Bruck, M., Genesee, F., & Caravolas, M. (1997). A cross-linguistic study of early literacy acquisition. In B. Blachman (Ed.) Foundations of Reading Acquisition and Dyslexia: Implications for Early Intervention. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Caravolas, M., & Bruck, M. (1993). The effect of oral and written language input on children's phonological awareness: A cross-linguistic study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 55, 1-30.


  • Caravolas, M., Mikulajová, M., Seidlová Málková, G., & Defior, S. (2019). MABEL – The Multi-language assessment battery of early literacy.
  • Caravolas, M., Mikulajová, M., Vencelová, L. (2008). Súbor testov na hodnotenie pravopisu pre zakladne skoly a klinicku prax. [Assessment battery of orthographic skills for primary schools and clinical practice.] Bratislava: SAL, s.r.o.
  • Caravolas, M., & Volín, J. (2005). Baterie diagnostických testů gramotnostních dovedností pro žáky 2. až 5. ročníku ZŠ. [Battery of diagnostic tests of literacy skills for pupils in 2nd to 5th grades of primary school.]. Prague: IPPP.

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