Reading and Writing

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 917–934 | Cite as

The role of invented spelling on learning to read in low-phoneme awareness kindergartners: a randomized-control-trial study

  • Monique Sénéchal
  • Gene Ouellette
  • Stephanie Pagan
  • Rosemary Lever


The goal of the present intervention research was to test whether guided invented spelling would facilitate entry into reading for at-risk kindergarten children. The 56 participating children had poor phoneme awareness, and as such, were at risk of having difficulty acquiring reading skills. Children were randomly assigned to one of three training conditions: invented spelling, phoneme segmentation, or storybook reading. All children participated in 16 small group sessions over 8 weeks. In addition, children in the three training conditions received letter-knowledge training and worked on the same 40 stimulus words that were created from an array of 14 letters. The findings were clear: on pretest, there were no differences between the three conditions on measures of early literacy and vocabulary, but, after training, invented spelling children learned to read more words than did the other children. As expected, the phoneme-segmentation and invented-spelling children were better on phoneme awareness than were the storybook-reading children. Most interesting, however, both the invented spelling and the phoneme-segmentation children performed similarly on phoneme awareness suggesting that the differential effect on learning to read was not due to phoneme awareness per se. As such, the findings support the view that invented spelling is an exploratory process that involves the integration of phoneme and orthographic representations. With guidance and developmentally appropriate feedback, invented spelling provides a milieu for children to explore the relation between oral language and written symbols that can facilitate their entry in reading.


Intervention Invented spelling Kindergarten Reading 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monique Sénéchal
    • 1
  • Gene Ouellette
    • 2
  • Stephanie Pagan
    • 1
  • Rosemary Lever
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Mount Allison UniversitySackvilleCanada

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