Linguistic comprehension and narrative skills predict reading ability: A 9-year longitudinal study

Selma Babayiğit*, Sue Roulstone, Yvonne Wren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Linguistic comprehension and narrative skills encapsulate a complex array of grammatical and semantic skills that underpin complex reading comprehension processes. However, most research in this area has focused on children with reading difficulties and not on typically developing children. Also the research has mostly focused on short-term effects of these skills on reading during the primary school years. Therefore, it remains unclear what specific role linguistic comprehension and narrative skills play in typically developing children's reading beyond the primary school years.

AIMS: With this 9-year prospective longitudinal study, we sought to clarify the independent effects of linguistic comprehension and narrative skill (at 5 years of age) on children's reading ability at 10 and 14 years of age.

SAMPLE: We examined the data from 716 children (MAge = 67 months, SD = 2.13 months), which were drawn from a major population cohort study, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

METHODS: Children's language skills were assessed at 5 and word reading and reading comprehension skills at 10 years of age. The reading achievement scores at 14 years of age were based on national curriculum test results.

RESULTS: Linguistic comprehension and narrative skills at 5 years of age made unique and direct contributions to reading comprehension skills and reading achievement after accounting for general cognitive ability, memory, phonological skills, and mother's education. Moreover, listening comprehension predicted reading achievement even when prior reading skills were taken into account.

CONCLUSIONS: Linguistic comprehension and narrative skills are related but distinct oral language skills that continue to influence children's reading development beyond the primary school years.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Early online date20 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 May 2020

Bibliographical note

The acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.


  • linguistic comprehension
  • longitudinal
  • narrative skills
  • reading


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