Markéta Caravolas : Universals and specifics of spelling development across European languages

On The October 7, 2019

10h00 to 12h00
26, Place Bellecour - 69002 Lyon
Salle de réunion - Allée A - 1er étage

Most European languages use alphabetic orthographies, and these can vary extensively in their transparency, or letter-sound consistency. An important question in cross-linguistic research on literacy development considers the impact that orthographic consistency may have on the neuropsychological predictors as well as on the patterns of alphabetic spelling development.

In this presentation, I provide an overview of studies that directly compared spelling development in English, with its inconsistent orthography, and several other languages with relatively consistent orthographies. The studies tracked children’s spelling development from kindergarten to the end of grade 2, and focused on the cognitive precursors and correlates of early spelling skills, and on the rates of growth in spelling ability. These studies demonstrate that, while learners of more consistent orthographies tend to acquire spelling skills more quickly than learners of less consistent ones, the ability to learn is underpinned by a language-general set of cognitive skills regardless of the system being learned. The implications of these findings for the identification of children at risk of literacy difficulties will be considered, and a new web-based multilanguage assessment battery of early literacy (MABEL), for the early detection of potential difficulties, will be presented.

Markéta Caravolas is Reader in Psychology at Bangor University, Wales, UK.She is fellow of the Collegium de Lyon 2019-2020.