Predictors of single word spelling in English speaking children: a cross sectional study

Georgia Niolaki, Janet Vousden, Aris Terzopoulos, Laura Taylor, Shani Shepton, Jackie Masterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The study aimed to explore to what extent variables associated with lexical and sublexical spelling processes predicted single word spelling ability and whether patterns of lexical and sublexical processes were different across ages. Methods: Beginning (mean age 7 years, N = 144) and advanced (mean age 9 years, N = 114) English-speaking spellers completed tasks associated with sublexical processing (phonological ability and phonological short-term memory), lexical processing (visual short-term memory and visual attention span) and factors known to predict spelling (e.g., rapid automatised naming). Results: Phonological ability, rapid automatised naming, visual short-term memory and visual attention span were significant predictors of spelling accuracy for beginning spellers, while for more advanced spellers, only visual attention span was a significant predictor. Conclusions: The findings suggested that for beginning spellers, both lexical and sublexical processes are important for single word spelling, but with increasing literacy experience, lexically related variables are more important.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
Pages (from-to)577-596
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Research in Reading
Issue number4
Early online date28 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Research in Reading published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of United Kingdom Literacy Association

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • phonological ability (PA)
  • rapid automatised naming (RAN)
  • spelling
  • visual attention span processing (VAS)
  • visual short-term memory (VSTM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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