Can we process written or spoken language more efficiently? And are true bookworms better at processing language? Merel Wolf investigated these questions in this dissertation. Dutch adults were able to learn new, unknown words (‘floemhaafs’) equally well when confronted with the spoken and written form. With regard to known words, such as ‘alligator’, is was found that Dutch adults recognized these faster in written form and slower in spoken form.
Another important finding was that people who tend to read a lot are more efficient at processing language than people who do not read much. Avid readers were better and faster at recognizing, understanding and producing words than people who read less often. A likely explanation is that reading improves our language knowledge. Imagine language knowledge as if it were a large dictionary in our heads. By reading, this dictionary continuously expands; adding and improving information about words and how to use them. This growing knowledge facilitates processing and using language.