Reading and Writing

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 635–666

Learning to spell a regularly spelled language is not a trivial task – patterns of errors in Kiswahili

  • Katherine J. Alcock
  • Damaris Ngorosho


Various theories of spelling development are discussed, includingtheir relevance to regularly spelled languages. For those languagesstudied so far, models including the incorporation of a wide variety oflinguistic knowledge seem most fruitful. Data from studies of reading,however, suggest that when the language is regularly spelled children donot make many errors after the initial stages. Data are presented fromspelling errors in children learning to spell Kiswahili, a regularlyspelled, non-European language. Patterns of errors and even specificphonemes and graphemes that are problematic are shown to resembleclosely the patterns found in English and other European languages. Itis concluded that, as in other languages, children are integrating manydifferent types of linguistic knowledge in their attempt to spell wordscorrectly; dialect, orthography, and grammatical knowledge are allimportant. Unlike reading such a language, spelling a regularly spelledlanguage is a cognitively challenging task.

African languages Kiswahili Regular orthography Spelling 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine J. Alcock
    • 1
  • Damaris Ngorosho
    • 3
  1. 1.Partnership for Child Development and Department of PsychologyCity UniversityLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCity UniversityLondonUK
  3. 3.MAKWAMI ProjectBagamoyoTanzania

Personalised recommendations