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Beginning to SpellA Study of First-Grade Children$
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Rebecca Treiman

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780195062199

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195062199.001.0001

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The Influence of Orthography on Children’s Spelling of Vowels and Consonants

The Influence of Orthography on Children’s Spelling of Vowels and Consonants

6 The Influence of Orthography on Children’s Spelling of Vowels and Consonants
Beginning to Spell

Rebecca Treiman

Oxford University Press

So far, the first graders’ spellings have been studied from a phonological perspective. Spellings have been classified according to the phonemes they symbolize in order to examine children’s knowledge of the various phoneme-grapheme correspondences of English. The results of these analyses have shown that children’s spellings are built on their conceptions of phonemic structure. But orthographic influences have been visible too. As we have seen, the words that children see and read affect their own attempts to spell. In this chapter, these orthographic influences take center stage. The children’s spellings are classified according to the conventional spellings of the words that they represent in order to examine children’s knowledge of such orthographic features as digraphs and final is. The question is whether and how the conventional spelling of a word affects children’s attempts to spell the word. The special characteristics of these children’s first-grade experience make it particularly interesting to examine their learning of orthographic conventions. These children received little direct instruction in spelling. Even if they asked how to spell a word, their teacher did not tell them. The children were not explicitly taught about such orthographic conventions as the fact that ck occurs in the middles and at the ends of words but not at the beginnings of words. Did the children nevertheless pick up such conventions from the words they saw and read? For example, did they induce that ck occurs only in the middles and at the ends of words from seeing words like package and sick but not words like ckatl To anticipate the results presented in this chapter, the children did pick up this and other orthographic patterns on their own. Thus, the findings suggest that children can learn about certain orthographic conventions from their experiences with printed words, in the absence of direct instruction. The results presented in this book show that children often misspell graphemes such as ai and sh. Clearly, children have difficulty with graphemes in which two or more letters symbolize a single phoneme. Less clear, at this point, are the sources of this difficulty and the conditions under which it occurs.

Keywords:   Graphemic alternations, Orthographic constraints test, Orthographic knowledge

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