Predictors of English invented spelling among Hong Kong Chinese children who learn English-as-second-language

Siu Sze YEUNG, Fraide A. GANOTICE, Yuk Lan Edith LEUNG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Asian children are expected to master the important skills of reading and spelling in English for which they learn as either a second language or a foreign language. Limited research has been conducted to examine the underlying cognitive-linguistic skills of invented spelling among Chinese children who learn English as an L2. Learning to spell in English requires vocabulary, verbal memory as well as metalinguistic skills because the mappings are more complex and irregular. The present study aimed to investigate the relationships of children’s English spelling ability and underlying component cognitive-linguistic skills in Hong Kong Chinese kindergartners who learn English-as-a-second language (ESL). Measures of invented spelling, phonological awareness (syllable and phonemic awareness), verbal short-term memory (STM), rapid automatized naming (RAN), and oral vocabulary in English (L2) were administered to 176 5-year-old children. In line with past literature on L1 children’s invented spelling ability, phonemic awareness was significantly associated with invented spelling. Syllable awareness was not a significant correlate of invented spelling. With age, general intelligence, and phonemic awareness statistically controlled, RAN and expressive vocabulary were significant predictors of invented spelling but verbal STM was not. The findings support the view that phonemic awareness is an important early predictor of invented spelling, despite the fact that children tend to have relatively weak phonemic awareness and learning to spell English words through the look-and-say method. The contribution of vocabulary and RAN in L2 spelling is highlighted by the present study. Copyright © 2013 ISB9 Organizing Committee.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


Yeung, S. S.-S., Ganotice, F., & Leung, Y. L. (2013, June). Predictors of English invented spelling among Hong Kong Chinese children who learn English-as-second-language. Paper presented at the 9th International Symposium on Bilingualism (ISB9), Singapore.


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