Cross-Linguistic Study Of Spelling In English As A Foreign Language: The Role Of First Language Orthography In Efl Spelling
The study investigated the effects of learning literacy in different first languages (L1s) on the acquisition of spelling in English as a foreign language (EFL). The hypothesis of the study was that given the same amount of practice, English learners from different first language backgrounds would differ on their English spelling proficiency because different orthographies "train" spelling skills differently and therefore the opportunities for positive cross-linguistic transfer that benefits English spelling would differ across L1s. The study also predicted that cross-linguistic differences in English spelling would not be the same across different components of spelling proficiency because cross-linguistic transfer would affect some skills involved in spelling competence, but not others. The study tested native speakers of Danish, Italian, and Russian with intermediate to advanced EFL proficiency. The three languages were chosen for this study based on the differences in native language spelling skills required to learn the three orthographies. One hundred Danish, 98 Italian, and 104 Russian university students, as well as a control group of 95 American students were recruited to participate in the web-based study, which was composed of four tasks testing four skills previously identified as components of English spelling proficiency: irregular word spelling, sensitivity to morphological spelling cues, sensitivity to context -driven probabilistic orthographic patterns, and phonological awareness. The study confirmed the existence of cross-linguistic differences in English spelling and found that the differences were not the same across different spelling skills tested in the study. The evidence from the study suggests that the characteristics of L1 orthography have an impact on the cognitive procedures involved in second language spelling explained by the transfer of cognitive spelling strategies from L1 to L2. The study contributes to the relatively new area of research investigating spelling in a second language by exploring languages that have not been previously studied in the context of EFL spelling and by considering multiple aspects of spelling proficiency. The implications of the findings for theoretical cognitive-linguistic research and educational practices are discussed.
English; esl; efl; spelling; literacy; second language; l2; cross-linguistic differences
Lust, Barbara Catherine
Cohn, Abigail C; Booth, James
Ph. D., Developmental Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis