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AbstractWe investigated word learning in university and college students with a diagnosis of dyslexia and in typically-reading controls. Participants read aloud short (4-letter) and longer (7-letter) nonwords as quickly as possible. The nonwords were repeated across 10 blocks, using a different random order in each block. Participants returned 7 days later and repeated the experiment. Accuracy was high in both groups. The dyslexics were substantially slower than the controls at reading the nonwords throughout the experiment. They also showed a larger length effect, indicating less effective decoding skills. Learning was demonstrated by faster reading of the nonwords across repeated presentations and by a reduction in the difference in reading speeds between shorter and longer nonwords. The dyslexics required more presentations of the nonwords before the length effect became non-significant, only showing convergence in reaction times between shorter and longer items in the second testing session where controls achieved convergence part-way through the first session. Participants also completed a psychological test battery assessing reading and spelling, vocabulary, phonological awareness, working memory, nonverbal ability and motor speed. The dyslexics performed at a similar level to the controls on nonverbal ability but significantly less well on all the other measures. Regression analyses found that decoding ability, measured as the speed of reading aloud nonwords when they were presented for the first time, was predicted by a composite of word reading and spelling scores (‘literacy’). Word learning was assessed in terms of the improvement in naming speeds over 10 blocks of training. Learning was predicted by vocabulary and working memory scores, but not by literacy, phonological awareness, nonverbal ability or motor speed. The results show that young dyslexic adults have problems both in pronouncing novel words and in learning new written words.