Transfer effects in spelling from transparent Greek to opaque English in seven-to-ten-year-old children

Georgia Niolaki, Jackie Masterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The study investigated single-word spelling performance of 33 English- and 38 Greek-speaking monolingual children, and 46 English- and Greek-speaking bilingual children (age range from 6;7 to 10;1 years). The bilingual children were divided into two groups on the basis of their single-word reading and spelling performance in Greek. In line with predictions, we found that scores on an assessment of phonological awareness were a significant predictor of spelling in English for the bilingual children with stronger Greek literacy skill. Phonological awareness scores were also a strong predictor of spelling in Greek in the monolingual Greek-speaking children. For the bilingual children with weaker Greek literacy ability, spelling in English was predicted by performance in a test of visual memory. This was more in line with results for the monolingual English-speaking children, for whom spelling performance was predicted by visual memory and phonological awareness scores. Qualitative analysis of misspellings revealed that phonologically appropriate errors were significantly greater in the strong Greek literacy ability bilingual group than the weaker Greek literacy ability bilingual group. Stimulus analyses using regression techniques are also reported. The results are interpreted to suggest that in biliterates literacy processes are transferred from one language to the other (Mumtaz & Humphreys, 2002).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-770
Number of pages14
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Issue number4
Early online date23 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Greek spelling
  • English spelling
  • intra- and cross-linguistic factors


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