Spelling patterns in English and Spanish, and their relation to composition quality in English and Spanish for Spanish-English dual language learners

Spelling patterns in English and Spanish, and their relation to composition quality in English and Spanish for Spanish-English dual language learners

First Author: Alissa Wolters -- University of California, Irvine
Additional authors/chairs: 
Young-suk Kim
Keywords: Bilingualism, Spelling, Writing, Spanish, English
Abstract / Summary: 

We examined Spanish-English cross-linguistic influence on spelling in compositions written by Spanish-English dual language learners in primary grades in the US. Research questions were as follows: What cross-linguistic influence is found in spelling patterns in English and Spanish compositions by Spanish-English dual language learners in primary grades? Are the patterns different by program (Dual immersion vs. English only)? Do spelling error patterns predict writing quality scores in English and Spanish? Spanish-English dual language learners in Grades 1 to 3 (N = 381) enrolled in either English-only or dual immersion programs wrote four essays, one narrative and one opinion in each language (Spanish and English). Compositions were scored for writing quality; and the patterns of spelling errors in their compositions were coded. Preliminary results show that there were consistent patterns of cross-linguistic influences of spelling (e.g., Spanish influence on English and vice versa), and the patterns differed by program type (dual vs. English only programs). Regression results show that Spanish spelling error patterns were independently related to writing quality in English and Spanish controlling for English spelling error patterns as well as demographic factors (socio-economic status, gender, and racial/ethnic backgrounds) and program types (dual vs. English only). These results indicate cross-linguistic influence in dual language learners’ spelling development and its contribution to writing quality in both languages, and their potentially varying nature as a function of instructional context (i.e., program types).