The study examined children and adolescents’ ability to improve root spelling in Hebrew words by paying attention to phonological, semantic and orthographic properties of priming roots. One hundred and fifty 8, 9, 10, 11 and 15-year olds were administered two spelling tests in Hebrew. The same 40 target words were used in both tests, each word containing a root with at least one homophonous letter. Target words were matched one-to-one with 40 priming words containing the same root. The pool of prime-target word pairs was classified into two major groups:Words containing genuine root primes, and words containing false root primes. In the first test, participants had to spell the 40 target words. In the second test they had to spell the same words, each primed by its written genuine or false match. Results showed that unprimed spelling improved with age. Priming – both genuine and false – improved spelling performance significantly, especially in younger grades, but genuine priming was more effective. Spellers were able to overcome phonological opacity in root primes and to take root semantics into account. This finding testifies to the robustness of the root as a unified morphological entity in Hebrew and to children’s ability to make use of their knowledge of lexical and morphological organization in learning to spell.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 9, 2005
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