Invented spelling, word stress, and phonological awareness in relation to reading difficulties in children

Sheena Mehta, Fordham University


The purpose of the current research is to assess the clinical utility of an invented spelling tool and determine whether invented spelling and word stress (supra-segmental level measures) can also be used to better identify reading difficulties. The proposed invented spelling tool incorporated linguistic manipulations to alter the difficulty levels of individual items by increasing the number of syllables in target words, including real and non real words, and requiring participants to identify stressed syllables. Sixty third grade children, aged 8-9, in the New Jersey and New York area participated in this study. Thirty children were considered typical readers and 30 children were considered to have reading difficulties, as they fell in the bottom 25% of their classroom in reading ability (as documented by their school). The current study confirmed previous research that phonological awareness and Rapid Automatized Naming predict reading ability. There was a statistically significant difference between typical and poor readers on the invented spelling task, however invented spelling was not shown to be a predictor of reading ability. Participants with reading difficulties were found to have poorer performance when spelling real and nonreal words, and more difficulty in detecting word stress. Poor readers were also found to struggle with spelling words with double consonants at the beginning and ending of words, and performed worse on spelling two and three syllable words than typical readers. Practical implications for early identification and instruction are discussed.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Mehta, Sheena, "Invented spelling, word stress, and phonological awareness in relation to reading difficulties in children" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10112613.