To what extent does phonology play a role in spelling English words? The written responses of deaf students and groups of hearing children to five tasks were subjected to quantitative and qualitative analyses. The first three tasks were used to see if deaf students utilized phonology when they generated their own words and to compare their spelling performance with that of hearing subjects. The fourth and fifth tasks were designed to compare the spelling performance of deaf and hearing subjects when they were required to reproduce visually presented common words. Results showed that deaf students, who were chronologically much older, were not better spellers than hearing children from the fifth grade. Analysis of data revealed little evidence that the deaf students involved in the present study utilize phonology in spelling. Nor did word-specific visual memory for entire words appears to play a role in spelling by deaf students. Rote visual memory for letter patterns and sequences of letters within words, however, appears to play a role in the spelling by deaf students. It is concluded that sensitivity to the stochastic-dependent probabilities of letter sequences may aid spelling up to certain point but phonology is essential for spelling words whose structure is morphophonemically complex.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2004
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