Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Patterns of Spelling in Young Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Patterns of Spelling in Young Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Article excerpt

The study examined the invented spelling abilities demonstrated by kindergarten and first-grade deaf and hard of hearing students. The study included two parts: In Part 1, the researcher compared three groups (deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing) using posttesting only on the Early Reading Screening Inventory, or ERSI (Morris, 1998), and in part 2 collected and analyzed samples of the spelling of deaf students in a Total Communication program. Analysis showed that the deaf group performed significantly differently in three areas: concept of word, word recognition, and phoneme awareness ("invented spelling"; Read, 1971). The deaf group outperformed the hearing and hard of hearing groups in concept of word and word recognition. But in phoneme awareness, the deaf group performed significantly less well than the hearing group. Therefore, the deaf group's spelling was followed for 1 year. Deaf students' spelling patterns were not the same as those of hearing and hard of hearing students. Deaf students' spelling miscues were directly related to the cueing systems of lipreading, signing, and fingerspelling.

Researchers in the field of reading continually reports the significance of phoneme awareness and phonics in early reading instruction. Professionals in deaf education are asking what phonology looks like for deaf and hard of hearing students. Teachers of the Deaf are asking two big questions about teaching reading: What do I teach? And how do I teach it? The connection between phoneme awareness and reading is well documented for hearing children (Adams 1990; I. Y. Liberman, Shankweiler, A. M. Liberman, Fowler, & Fischer, 1977; Lundberg, Frost, & Petersen, 1988; Morris & Perney, 1984). For deaf children, this connection is not clear.

Several tasks measure a child's phoneme awareness. Using children's "invented spelling" is one accepted way of gauging their phoneme awareness. Read (1971) pioneered this work with his extensive research into the early spelling of preschool children. Read analyzed the invented spelling of preschoolers as young as 3+ years old, before they had begun to read. His data suggested that all children arrive at basically the same spelling system. He concluded that children possess some tacit phonological knowledge without formal teaching. From these invented spellings, Read proposed an explanation for how children organize their knowledge of English phonology. The question of how deaf children organize their knowledge of English phonology is unanswered, however.

The question becomes even more confusing because spelling research shows that deaf children have superior spelling abilities when compared with hearing children of the same reading ability and IQ (Gates & Chase, 1926; Hoemann, Andrews, Florian, Hoemann, & Jensema, 1976; Markides, 1976; Templin, 1948). This superior spelling ability is surprising because spelling is based on the alphabetic system, which is derived from sound (Henderson, 1990). How do deaf children who do not hear these sounds become proficient spellers? This question was explored more than 75 years ago, when Gates and Chase (1926) set up experiments to compare deaf children's word perception abilities with those of hearing children, and concluded that it was the ability to perceive a word visually that allowed deaf children to spell so well.

However, current research shows that spelling is a highly complex process. It does not merely involve memorizing the spelling of words; spelling requires an understanding of a range of phoneme-grapheme relationships and morphemic relationships, as well as the semantic and syntactic influences upon words (Bolton & Snowball, 1993; Gentry & Gillet, 1993; Henderson, 1990). Spelling requires the use of strategies that vary depending on the words and the word knowledge of the speller. Chomsky and Halle (1968) argued that English orthography represents morphemic relationships, or meaning, more effectively than it represents sound. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.