Using a word order correction paradigm, we assessed syntactic awareness skills in children with good and poor reading comprehension, matched for age, decoding skill, and nonverbal ability. Poor comprehenders performed less well than normal readers, and the performance of both groups was influenced by the syntactic complexity and semantic ambiguity of the sentences. These findings support the view that poor comprehenders have language processing difficulties encompassing grammatical as well as semantic weaknesses, although their phonological processing skills are normal. The implications of such language weaknesses for the development of skilled reading are discussed.
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