October 6, 2014
Universite de Montreal
Children’s future writing difficulties can be identified before they even learn how to begin writing, according to a new study by Professor Phaedra Royle and Postdoctoral fellow Alexandra Marquis of the University of Montreal’s School of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology. The researchers are interested in oral language skills and their impact on grammar and spelling learning. Their work shows that oral language is a good predictor of writing difficulties. “The more children are able to use verb tense in spoken language, the more easily they can learn written language,” explained Professor Royle. On a different note, the research data also contradicts the popular belief that bilingualism at an early age can be detrimental to oral and written language learning.
Results of Royle and Marquis’ study indicate that first grade oral skills were predictive of second grade writing skills one year later. More specifically, morphological awareness in spoken language (in which the child is able to manipulate the parts of a word and understand the rules of word formation) can predict possible spelling and grammar difficulties in written language. Morphology refers to the individual pieces of a word, or morphemes, that have meaning. For example, the two morphemes “dog” and “-s” in “dogs” mean more than one dog. Syntax refers to the way we construct whole sentences..”Our data reveal links between oral and written morphosyntactic skills for both groups of children,”