Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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Becoming a proficient speller in English is a challenging task requiring integration of knowledge from multiple linguistic and cognitive sources. Spelling in English as a foreign language (EFL) is more complex when the distance between the different languages of the speller is great. Whereas binary scoring practices are prevalent, they are not as informative as analyses of errors based on linguistic characteristics. The present longitudinal study examined the development of spelling in EFL among speakers of Semitic L1, Arabic and Hebrew ( = 354). A dictation task on a one-word level assessed spelling from 4th–6th grades. Spellings were first scored for accuracy and then analyzed based primarily on phonological and orthographic characteristics. Errors were then grouped according to four predominant developmental trends. While similarities with L1 spelling development were noted, some of the error types could be attributed to unique characteristics of linguistic distance between Semitic languages and English. Both theoretical and practical implications are considered.


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