Centre for Reading and Language


ELDEL (Enhancing Literacy Development in European Languages) provides a state of the art training environment for early-stage researchers interested in the scientific study of literacy development. It is an Initial Training Network (ITN), funded by Marie Curie. Through participation in a multidisciplinary research programme, under the supervision of internationally recognized senior scientists in five EU countries, the programme will enable young researchers at Post Graduate and Post Doctoral levels to acquire the broad range of skills necessary to become the next generation of leaders in this field.

The Centre for Reading and Language had three researchers funded by ELDEL: Dr Ariana Loff, Ally Haley and Dr Kristina Moll. Ariana completed a PhD and Ally completed an MSc during their time at the University of York.

The ELDEL/Wellcome Attention and Numeracy Project

The ELDEL/Wellcome Reading and Numeracy Project involved Maggie Snowling, Charles Hulme, Kristina Moll and Debbie Gooch. Its aim was to understand the nature of attention and maths difficulties in children aged between 6 and 11 years old.

Researchers asked children to complete a range of child-friendly testing activities assessing skills relating to attention, maths and reading. These activities took place at the University or at the family's home.

The ELDEL/Wellcome Reading and Numeracy Project

The ELDEL/Wellcome Reading and Numeracy Project involved Maggie Snowling, Charles Hulme, Kristina Moll and Ariana Loff. It aimed to understand the different developmental pathways of literacy and numeracy skills within the same family. 

The research has involved children between the ages of 6 and 11 years old, many of whom were also siblings of children taking part in The Wellcome Reading and Language Project. It was hoped that the study of siblings from families with a history of dyslexia and without a history of reading difficulties would enable investigation into why some children develop difficulties in reading while others don't.

The team aimed to answer the following questions through the research:   

  • What are the difficulties underlying reading/language problems, attention and arithmetic deficits in the same family?
  • Do siblings show a similar pattern?   
  • What are the common risk factors between reading and arithmetic difficulties that can explain why these disorders often co-occur?   
  • What are the specific risk factors for reading and arithmetic difficulties, respectively?   
  • How persistent are these difficulties over a 9 month period?   
  • What are the factors that can explain why siblings may show different performances in reading and arithmetic?
  • What's involved for families who volunteer to take part?

Each child was seen twice with a 6-9 month gap between the two sessions. The tasks used by the researchers were designed especially for children and are presented as games. A mixture of paper and pencil, hands-on and computerised tasks were used, to assess:   

  • Literacy   
  • Numeracy   
  • Spoken language   
  • Listening skills   
  • Memory   
  • Attention   
  • Coordination   
  • General abilities

Parents also took part and completed questionnaires. After each assessment the child received a small gift for their hard work and parents were given some feedback about how their child got on during the assessment. The testing sessions took place in the Centre for Reading and Language or at home.

The project started in May 2009 and the first testing phase took place between October 2009 and June 2010. The second phase started in July 2010. During the sessions children perform various tasks to assess their literacy, numeracy, language and memory skills. Over 93 children  volunteered to take part in the study.