, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 495-513
Date: 06 Mar 2009

The invented spellings of non-Spanish phonemes by Spanish–English bilingual and English monolingual kindergarteners

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This study compared the English spelling of native Spanish-speaking children receiving English-only instruction with monolingual native English speaking children at the end of kindergarten. In invented spelling, young bilingual children can show us how they perceive the unique sounds of English by the way they map English letters onto non-Spanish sounds. The spelling of non-Spanish phonemes and English and Spanish stop consonants differing in voice onset time were examined. The relationship of plausible English spelling with English vocabulary knowledge was also investigated. The bilingual kindergarteners had significantly fewer correct spellings of ending stop consonants, which differ phonetically in English and Spanish, than did the monolingual group. No significant difference between the two groups at the end of kindergarten was found when spelling non-Spanish phonemes however. The lexical restructuring model was applied to explain a positive correlation between vocabulary and plausible English spellings.