Spelling acquisition in Spanish: Using error analyses to examine individual differences in phonological and orthographic processing

Spelling acquisition in Spanish: Using error analyses to examine individual differences in phonological and orthographic processing

First Author: Shuai Zhang -- Appalachain State University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Alida Hudson; Ryan Xuejun Ji; R. M. Joshi; Juan Zamora; Fabiola R. Gómez-Velázquez; Andrés Antonio González-Garrido
Keywords: Spelling, Spanish, Early Literacy, Error Analysis
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The current research analyzed Spanish spelling errors with a focus on phonological and orthographic error patterns. This was then used for both student- and variable-centered analyses to examine individual and developmental differences on phonological and orthographic processing as well as to identify word-level risk factors of phonological and orthographic difficulty in more proficient spellers.

Method: A total of 128 words were dictated to 166 students whom were from Kindergarten to Grade 3 in a city in Mexico. The words were carefully selected based on 1) Orthographic acquisition difficulty (OAD; 50% high; 50% low), 2) Syllable complexity (50% high; 50% low), 3) Syllable length (50% had 2 syllables; 50% had more than two syllables), and 4) Word frequency (50% high frequency; 50% low frequency). Each spelling error was analyzed and 15 spelling error categories were generated, with phonological and orthographic processing accounting for nine and six categories, respectively.

Results: Using the 15 error categories as indicators of latent class analysis, we found three phases of students: Phase 1 students had a high chance of committing almost all types of errors. Phase 2 students had a lower chance of committing vowel-based phonological errors, but still had a high chance of committing consonant-based phonological errors. Phase 3 students had some difficulty differentiating similar consonant sounds for spelling. Using multilevel logistic regression, we found syllable complexity and OAD were the best predictors of phonological and orthographic errors in more proficient spellers, respectively.

Conclusions: Spelling instruction could be tailored to the characteristics of students instead of to each grade level. Also, it may benefit more experienced spellers to frequently be exposed to words with high syllable and orthographic complex