Developmental trends and precursors of English spelling in Chinese children who learn English-as-a-second language: Comparisons between average and at-risk spellers

Siu Sze YEUNG, Shen QIAO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Invented spelling has been viewed as a window to young children's spelling development.

Aims: This longitudinal study investigated the developmental trends in invented spelling as a function of phoneme position in very young ESL children. It also investigated cognitive-linguistic precursors of L2 spelling difficulties.

Methods and procedures
: We identified 2 groups of spellers in kindergarten based on their invented spelling performances at the end of kindergarten: average spellers and at-risk spellers. The two groups were compared on invented spelling performance at varied phoneme positions of a word. They were also administered a battery of cognitive-linguistic tasks, including letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, vocabulary and rapid automatized naming at an earlier timepoint.

Outcomes and results: Both groups performed better in invented spelling on initial consonants than on medial vowels, which in turn were better than final consonants at two time points. In addition, the average spellers improved significantly more than the at-risk spellers at all phoneme positions. Vocabulary was a significant predictor of spelling difficulties when other crucial cognitive-linguistic variables were taken into consideration simultaneously.

Conclusions and implications: The current findings suggest the unique features of invented spelling development in L2 learners and identified precursors to L2 spelling difficulties. Very young average and at-risk L2 spellers showed differential gains in L2 invented spelling. Implications of the present study are (1) invented spelling at kindergarten is able to differentiate average and at-risk spellers and (2) invented spelling training and vocabulary intervention could be useful in the remediation of spelling difficulties. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103456
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume93
Early online dateAug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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Citation

Yeung, S. S.-S., & Qiao, S. (2019). Developmental trends and precursors of English spelling in Chinese children who learn English-as-a-second language: Comparisons between average and at-risk spellers. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 93. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2019.103456

Keywords

  • Second language learning
  • Spelling
  • At-risk children
  • Precursor skills
  • Phoneme positions