Reading and Writing

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 355–385 | Cite as

Roles of position, stress, and proficiency in L2 children’s spelling: A developmental perspective

  • Su Chin Hong
  • Shu Hui Chen


This study investigated the roles of phoneme position, stress, and proficiency in L2 spelling development by Taiwanese students learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL), an alphabetic writing system typologically different from the learners’ L1 logographic system. Structured nonword spelling tests were administered to EFL sixth-graders with lower and higher English proficiency level. The results showed that overall, final phonemes were spelled more poorly than their initial and medial counterparts; however, phoneme position effect decreased as learners’ English proficiency improved. Secondly, spelling of the stressed syllable was significantly better than that of the unstressed syllable. However, when phonemes were held constant, stress effect was significant only in the first, but not in the second syllable. Thirdly, higher proficient EFL children spelled significantly better than their lower proficient counterparts, and spelling errors were more systematic in the former. The findings of the study are discussed from linguistic, psychological, and developmental perspectives.


L2 children’s spelling Phoneme position Stress Proficiency 



We thank all the Taiwanese EFL children who participated in this study. The suggestions from Editor-in-chief, Dr. R. M. Joshi, to incorporate recent studies on L2 spelling by non-English EFL children greatly helped improve our previous drafts. Especially, we would like to gratefully acknowledge the valuable and insightful comments from the two anonymous reviewers, who have greatly helped us by providing revision guidelines for our considerable revision. Any remaining shortcomings are, of course, necessarily our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Taipei Municipal Tao-yuan Elementary SchoolTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Children English EducationNational Taipei University of EducationTaipeiTaiwan

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