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The development of phonological awareness and spelling competence in beginning spellers Walton, Carol May


Phonological awareness is recognized as being a key factor contributing to students' development of early literacy skills. This study investigated the theoretical model which suggests that beginning spellers construct spellings using their knowledge of phonological awareness, orthography, letter names and letter sounds (Burns & Richgels, 1989; Read, 1986; Tangel & Blachman, 1995). Eighty-one kindergarten and grade one students were assessed in terms of their spelling competence, theory-related requisite skills (phonological awareness, knowledge, of orthographic structure, letter names and letter sounds), and several control variables (vocabulary, word recognition ability and verbal memory). The results indicted that a substantial portion of the variance in students' spelling competence was accounted for by these requisite skills, and that the contribution of phonological awareness skills to spelling remained significant even after controlling for differences in students' vocabulary, verbal memory and word recognition ability. Subsequent analyses demonstrated that particular types of phonological awareness tasks were differentially associated with different levels of spelling competence. These findings suggest that there is a strong relationship between the development of phonological awareness and spelling competence in beginning spellers.

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