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Relationships between metalinguistic and spelling development across languages: evidence from English and Hebrew.

Bindman, Miriam Ruth. (1997) Relationships between metalinguistic and spelling development across languages: evidence from English and Hebrew. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

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Metalinguistic awareness is transferable between oral and written forms of language, and between different languages. Recent research has established a connection between monolingual children's grammatical awareness and their morphological spelling knowledge. Studies of bilingual children have shown that phonological awareness and alphabetic knowledge transfer across languages, even if the languages are dissimilar and are written with different scripts. This study investigates transfer of grammatical awareness and morphological spelling knowledge across dissimilar languages and scripts. In spoken language, children learn not only surface-level language 'facts' specific to that language (e.g. vocabulary) but also deeper-level grammatical principles (e.g. morphological and syntactic relationships), which govern other languages. Similarly, literacy requires surface-level knowledge of a specific script (e.g. letters and their sound values), and knowledge of the principle underlying that script (e.g. that alphabets represent phonology and morphology), which governs other scripts of the same type. I propose that transfer across languages occurs at the level of grammatical awareness but not at the level of vocabulary. The hypothesis was tested in Englishspeaking children (6-11 years) learning Hebrew as a second language. In Study 1, Hebrew learners were given oral measures of vocabulary and grammatical awareness, and measures of morphological spelling knowledge. Grammatical awareness and morphological spelling knowledge were significantly correlated across languages, but vocabulary was not. In Study 2, awareness of conceptually similar aspects of English and Hebrew morphology was measured in oral language and spelling. These were significantly correlated across languages. In both studies, Hebrew learners with high levels of Hebrew scored significantly higher than English-speaking monolinguals on grammatical and spelling measures. I conclude that grammatical awareness and morphological spelling knowledge are transferable across languages and scripts, and that learning a second language can benefit specific aspects of metalinguistic and spelling development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Some content has been redacted due to third party rights or other legal issues and is labelled as such in the document.
Controlled Keywords: Language development,Transfer,Bilingualism,Grammar,Spelling,English language,Hebrew language,Language awareness
Subjects: Departments > Psychology and Human Development
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Welshman
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2015 09:07
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2015 09:07
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