This article examines the influence that oral language deficits may exert on children's ability to learn to read and to develop mature reading skills. Recent research documents deficits in phonological awareness, rapid naming, syntactic and morphological skills, and discourse processing and production in samples of children of different ages who have poor reading skills. Although deficits in expressive syntax and morphology can be observed in young children and some samples of children with reading delays, the majority of the evidence points to deficient phonological awareness as the variable that best discriminates children with reading delay. These deficits endure through young adulthood and continue to limit a student's reading rate, despite the development of satisfactory compensatory strategies. Among the different types of language deficits that can be observed at different points across the age span in poor readers, a phonological core deficit seems to be the most prominent and enduring oral language deficit in children and young adults who struggle with reading.
(C) 1997 Aspen Publishers, Inc.