Cross-language transfer of spelling strategies in English and Afrikaans grade 3 children

  • de Sousa D
  • Greenop K
  • Fry J
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Abstract

Abstract This study examined strategies for spelling accuracy in Grade 3 children. Thirty bilingual, Afrikaans?English speaking children and 30 monolingual, English-speaking children were assessed on their ability to spell English words and non-words. The bilingual children were also assessed on their Afrikaans word and non-word spelling abilities. In terms of spelling accuracy, the monolingual children had significantly higher scores for the complex opaque English words and non-words than did the bilingual children. The bilingual children showed greater spelling accuracy in the spelling of Afrikaans words and non-words compared to their spelling of English words and non-words. Nevertheless, bilingual children may benefit from utilising spelling systems from two languages to facilitate spelling in both languages. Qualitative error analyses indicated that both lexical and sub-lexical strategies are available for spelling English and Afrikaans words, but that the assembled route contributes more to spelling in a transparent orthography, consistent with the orthographic transparency hypothesis. The bilingual children's ability to spell in Afrikaans and English was correlated, signifying a cross-language relationship for spelling both languages; but with language background and orthographic depth exerting an influence on the nature and development of spelling strategies used to spell in an orthographically different first language and second language. Abstract This study examined strategies for spelling accuracy in Grade 3 children. Thirty bilingual, Afrikaans?English speaking children and 30 monolingual, English-speaking children were assessed on their ability to spell English words and non-words. The bilingual children were also assessed on their Afrikaans word and non-word spelling abilities. In terms of spelling accuracy, the monolingual children had significantly higher scores for the complex opaque English words and non-words than did the bilingual children. The bilingual children showed greater spelling accuracy in the spelling of Afrikaans words and non-words compared to their spelling of English words and non-words. Nevertheless, bilingual children may benefit from utilising spelling systems from two languages to facilitate spelling in both languages. Qualitative error analyses indicated that both lexical and sub-lexical strategies are available for spelling English and Afrikaans words, but that the assembled route contributes more to spelling in a transparent orthography, consistent with the orthographic transparency hypothesis. The bilingual children's ability to spell in Afrikaans and English was correlated, signifying a cross-language relationship for spelling both languages; but with language background and orthographic depth exerting an influence on the nature and development of spelling strategies used to spell in an orthographically different first language and second language.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bi-literacy
  • Bilingualism
  • Cross-language transfer
  • Orthographic transparency hypothesis
  • Spelling

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