The English Spelling Performance of Dutch University Students of English On Inflected and Uninflected Targets
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Aim: To investigate whether it is possible to master an L2 spelling system that is different than the entrenched L1 spelling system. Furthermore, it was assessed whether manipulated lexical status, morphology, phonology, and orthography would contribute to spelling capacity. Thirdly, it was reviewed whether the results could be interpreted within a usage-based framework. Method: 19 Dutch University students had to complete a spelling task including English real words and pseudowords further divided in uninflected and inflected targets, which were controlled for phonological and orthographical complexity (taken from Kemp et al., 2008). Furthermore, participants completed an English spelling selection task, in which these same targets had to be selected from a two-choice option. Results: Students found spelling real words less challenging than spelling pseudowords. The higher scores on spelling real words could indicate that participants made use of their mental lexicon when spelling words. The mental lexicon stores knowledge based on frequency, input and usage. Furthermore, the students found base word forms easier to spell than derived word forms. This could indicate that participants struggled with adding the correct ambiguous suffix, which means they found it difficult to connect suffixes to contextual cues that signal the intended orthographic spelling pattern. Finally, the students appeared to have less difficulty with spelling English phonological words, like bother-bothersome, than with spelling orthographic words, e.g. scarce-scarcity that required knowledge about the English spelling system. The results from the selection task showed that students had a better perception on English spelling than production. Especially the perception of orthographic ambiguous spelling patterns was better than their production.