a1 Institute of Education, London
The study investigated single-word spelling performance of 33 English- and 38 Greek-speaking monolingual children, and 46 English- and Greek-speaking bilingual children (age range from 6;7 to 10;1 years). The bilingual children were divided into two groups on the basis of their single-word reading and spelling performance in Greek. In line with predictions, we found that scores on an assessment of phonological awareness were a significant predictor of spelling in English for the bilingual children with stronger Greek literacy skill. Phonological awareness scores were also a strong predictor of spelling in Greek in the monolingual Greek-speaking children. For the bilingual children with weaker Greek literacy ability, spelling in English was predicted by performance in a test of visual memory. This was more in line with results for the monolingual English-speaking children, for whom spelling performance was predicted by visual memory and phonological awareness scores. Qualitative analysis of misspellings revealed that phonologically appropriate errors were significantly greater in the strong Greek literacy ability bilingual group than the weaker Greek literacy ability bilingual group. Stimulus analyses using regression techniques are also reported. The results are interpreted to suggest that in biliterates literacy processes are transferred from one language to the other (Mumtaz & Humphreys, 2002).
(Received December 18 2010)
(Revised November 22 2011)
(Accepted December 06 2011)
(Online publication January 23 2012)
* The research was supported by a Central Research Fund Grant, the Institute of Education, European Scholarship, the Onasis Foundation and the Wingate Scholarship awarded to the first author. The authors are grateful to the teachers, staff, parents and children of participating schools in London, Greece and Cyprus. They are also grateful to Maria Christou and Angeliki Kaloudi for their help in data collection, and to three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on earlier versions of the paper.