GraphoGame : A game to help children develop foundational reading skills

GraphoGame was initially developed by a Finnish research team and adapted to the French language by a team of a French Lab (Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, LPC) as part of a project funded by the ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) and headed by Johannes Ziegler. 

GraphoGame is based on over thirty years of reasearch on reading acquisition in alphabetic writing system [1] [2]. Especially, it is now well known that the mastery of decoding skills (see box) is a crucial factor in learning to read. While the goal of reading is to understand what you are reading, reading difficulties are mainly explained by decoding problems. In addition, teaching methods based on phonics have the greatest impact on children reading scores [3]. Therefore, GraphoGame uses a phonics based approach.

To decode means to use grapheme-phoneme correspondences, i.e. to go from the basic units of the written language (graphemes, such as ‘l’, ‘oo’, ‘p’ in the word "loop"), to the corresponding basic units of the oral language (phonemes).

GraphoGame also brings about 2 important innovations to literacy instruction in French.

  • It relies on an adaptive technology that introduces new activities based on students’ skills, avoiding frustrations.
  • It takes into account the main characteristics of the French orthography [4], especially, the consistence of grapheme-phoneme correspondences. For example, graphemes that are read always the same way (’é’, ’v’), or almost always (’a’, ’ou’, ’f’, ’ch’) are introduced first, before graphemes such as ‘c’ and ‘g’, that have a pronunciation depending of the following grapheme. Other characteristics of the French orthography are also considered, in particular the presence of written morphological markers which are silent in speaking (as the ’s’ at the end of the verb and of the noun "tu as beaucoup d’amis" or the ’d’ at the end of "grand").

In most of the games, a word is pronounced and the child must find it among 2 to 4 written words. In others, s/he must reconstruct the word s/he heard from its constituents, graphemes ("j-eu", or "b-ou-t-on" ...) or words ("la dame est" [the woman is]: "ruse" [smart] or "russe" [Russian]). These games are presented in two modules organized according to the difficulties of the French orthography.




[1] Dehaene (Dir.) (2011). Apprendre à lire : des sciences cognitives à la salle de classe. Paris : Odile Jacob.

[2] Ziegler J. C. & Goswami U. (2005). Reading acquisition, developmental dyslexia, and skilled reading across languages: a psycholinguistic grain size theory. Psychological Bulletin, 131(1), 3-29.

[3] See Sprenger-Charolles & Colé (2013). Quelles sont les méthodes les plus efficaces pour apprendre à lire? Etudes avec des enfants ayant appris à lire en langue maternelle ou seconde. ANAE, 123: 127-134.

[4] See Peereman, Sprenger-Charolles, & Messaoud-Galusi (2013). The contribution of morphology to the consistency of spelling-to-sound relations: A quantitative analysis based on French elementary school readers. L’Année Psychologique, 113(1), 3-33.