Does the study of Latin affect spelling proficiency?


This investigation explores Latin study as a possible route to superior spelling proficiency. The spelling ability of two groups of academically able eleventh graders — students of Latin and students of other second languages — is compared. It was found that the Latin students were superior in general spelling ability and were particularly proficient at spelling words of Latin origin. In addition, analysis of the spelling of derivatives for which knowledge of Latin could either facilitate or mislead the speller shows that Latin students were differentially affected by the two types of derivatives. In contrast, students of other second languages, lacking the knowledge of Latinate derivatives, simply made more errors on both types of words. Thus, it appears that Latin study does have an effect on spelling performance. Whether it can fully account for the superior spelling proficiency of the Latin students, however, remains a question to be answered by a prospective longitudinal investigation. Implications for instruction drawn from the present study are discussed.

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Carlisle, J.F., Liberman, I.Y. Does the study of Latin affect spelling proficiency?. Read Writ 1, 179–191 (1989).

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  • Latin study
  • spelling proficiency
  • second language learning