Does exposure to approximate spellings during the early years of schooling have lasting effects on students’ writing skills?

While the positive effects of invented spelling  (IS) on the writing skills of kindergarten and grade 1 students are increasingly well documented, it is still not known whether repeated exposure to OA in the first years of schooling provides increased long-term benefits for students’ writing skills. 

Being exposed to invented spelling for two years was beneficial to students.

IS involves the use of contextualized writing situations where teachers encourage students to apply their spelling knowledge and strategies, encouraging them to think and to share their writing hypotheses. The teacher also uses a comparison of the approximate or invented spelling to standard spelling to provide direct instruction of spelling concepts and foster the (co)construction of spelling knowledge.

Our research aims, among other things, to examine the long-term effects of exposure to IS in elementary cycle 1 on the writing skills of students in grades 1 to 4. Our study showed that being exposed to IS for two years was beneficial to students compared to being exposed for only one year or not at all, and that the benefits were primarily observed in grades 3 and 4, when the students were no longer using IS.

These results suggest that the strategies acquired through IS foster subsequent student learning. On that basis, recommendations could be made to the MEES, universities and schools regarding 1) initial and continuing teacher training in writing and spelling instruction, and 2) the relevance of using IS to teach writing and spelling in cycle 1 as a means of improving writing skills among elementary school students.

Main researcher

Annie Charron, Université du Québec à Montréal


Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: October 2018