Spelling English as a foreign language: a narrative review of cross-language influences due to distance in writing system, orthography and phonology

Rana Sammour-Shehadeh, Janina Kahn-Horwitz, Anat Prior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The current narrative review focuses on cross-language influences (CLI) in spelling English as a foreign language (EFL). We identify three types of distance between first language (L1) and English that may impact English spelling, namely distance in writing system, in orthography and in phonology. The review describes and specifies the spelling difficulties that different groups of EFL learners may experience due to these distance types. We present a detailed examination of these inter-connected aspects of distance in order to characterize the different sources of CLI in spelling. Because CLI plays a significant role in learning a new language, understanding and characterizing the types of distance that lead to CLI has important implications for EFL instruction and learning. The empirical studies reviewed here clearly indicate that distance from L1 affects the English spelling of both beginning and advanced English learners, and this effect depends on the type of distance. In addition, we suggest that spelling difficulties are exacerbated in cases where L1 is distant from EFL in more than one way. Suggestions for future research are provided and pedagogical implications for EFL instruction are offered.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2147-2173
Number of pages27
JournalReading and Writing
Volume36
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Cross-language influences
  • EFL
  • Spelling
  • Transfer

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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