, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 136-160
Date: 04 Mar 2011

Enhancing orthographic knowledge helps spelling production in eight-year-old Chinese children at risk for dyslexia

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Abstract

We investigated the effects of enhancing orthographic knowledge on the spelling of Chinese characters and words in 131 eight-year-old Chinese children at risk for dyslexia. The traditional approach (37 children) emphasizing memory and repeated writing was the control condition. The analytic and synthetic approach (ASA, 33 children) stressed insight into character structure. The integrated analytic and synthetic approach added to ASA self-correction and metacognitive activities (INA, 61 children). The children were first asked to write down as many words as possible associated with pictures of home, school, and community; the correctly written words formed the baseline information. The children were then instructed by their classroom teachers in six especially designed short texts and assessed in eight measurable bujian or radical tasks subserving three constructs: morpheme completion, bujian analysis and synthesis and bujian compounding. Multivariate analyses of variance showed that the children in the INA condition outperformed those in the other conditions in three of the measurable bujian tasks. A confirmatory factor analysis verified the stability of the eight tasks and their clustering into three constructs. From these results, we tentatively propose a “bujian sensitivity hypothesis” as a means of helping young Chinese children at risk for spelling disorders.