In elementary school, foreign language learning (dominantly English) is common in German-speaking countries and has a strong focus on verbal communication during the early years. It is, however, controversially discussed whether or not written skills should be taught as well, when exactly they should be introduced, and what method of teaching is most adequate. Empirical findings from psycholinguistic studies are important in order to develop evidence-based methods of best practice. In the current review we focus on word recoding skills and discuss research investigating the impact of early contact on written English and findings on the interference of the native language orthography. We also present evidence on recoding strategies among English native speakers as well as among German learners of English, and their experience-based developmental changes. The main conclusion based on this review is that the teaching of English orthography to German learners should follow a systematic approach based on the particular orthographic structure of words.