Biliteracy Spelling Acquisition in Akshara and English
Spelling is one of the important literacy skills to be mastered. Most studies on the influence of first language orthography on spelling in a second language have been conducted primarily from one alphabetic language to another alphabetic language (e.g., English and Spanish) or from an alphabetic to a morphosyllabic language (e.g., English and Chinese). However, very few studies have been conducted on cross-linguistic influences from an akshara orthography – a unique orthography different from alphabetic, syllabic, alpha-syllabic, and morphosyllabic scripts – to an alphabetic language. The present study explored the influence of such an akshara orthography in spelling English words by administering phonological awareness, decoding, oral vocabulary knowledge, and spelling tasks to students in Grades 1–5 in low-income communities in South India. Results of quantile regression analyses showed that the orthography of the first language did influence spelling in English words. However, the contribution was different depending on the children’s proficiency in English. Among students with higher proficiency in oral English, the influence of first language was less strong. Theoretical and educational implications are discussed.
KeywordsAkshara Biliteracy Kannada Low-income communities Telugu Spelling
This research was conducted under the All Children Reading Grand Challenge initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development, World Vision, and Australian Aid.
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