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Research report

Teaching lexical spelling

Given the trouble that many students have with lexical spelling and the shared interest of schools and government authorities in defining evidence-based practices, the primary goal of this project was to test three teaching devices for lexical spelling. After consulting with teachers on their practices for the teaching of lexical spelling and collectively defining the principles to be considered in setting up a training program, three learning contexts were created and tested in Grade 2 classrooms. A total of 143 students took part in the project.

These results indicate not only the relevance of teaching the properties of words, but also its necessity.

The principal findings indicate that students who had repeated contact with the written code showed improvement in lexical spelling (Frequency condition), as did those who received explicit instruction on the phonological properties of words (Phonological Properties condition) or the visual properties of words (Visual Properties condition). However, the greatest improvement was seen under the Visual Properties condition. Moreover, the findings show that all students—normally-achieving or with learning difficulties, francophone or non-francophone, male or female—made progress when exposed to lexical spelling instruction.

These results indicate not only the relevance of teaching the properties of words, but its necessity as well. More generally, the results of this study argue in favour of differentiated instruction for the teaching of lexical spelling. A variety of avenues are favourable to learning and it is probably advantageous to use all of them in the classroom. Taken together, these results serve as a basis for reflection on the renewal of teaching practices and open the door to a number of different research projects.


Main researcher: Daniel Daigle, Université de Montréal

Original title: L'enseignement de l'orthographe lexicale et l'élève en difficulté : développement et mise à l'essai d'un programme d'entraînement

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