Invented spelling with feedback - Can a speech synthesis do the job?
Purpose: Invented spelling with corrective feedback from a teacher or a peer can be effective in developing beginners’ early literacy skills (e.g., Martins & Silva, 2006; Ouellette & Sénéchal, 2008). An intervention study investigates if similar effects can be seen when feedback is facilitated by a synthetic speech specially developed for reading aloud children’s invented spellings. Method: 60 Danish children from 5 pre-school classrooms (6 year-olds) participated and were assigned to one of three conditions. In the two experimental conditions A) and B) children were encouraged to write dictated words on a computer (mainly regular words with simple syllable structures). In A) feedback was provided by synthetic speech during the process of spelling. The teacher’s role was to support the child in interacting with the speech synthesis and thereby reach the conventional spelling. In B) children received corrective feedback and comments from the teacher. This feedback was inspired by Ouellette (2007). Training in the experimental conditions consisted of 18 lessons of 20 min in small groups distributed equally over six weeks. Children in the control group participated in regular classroom instruction. Results: Children in the two experimental groups performed on the same level at a posttest of spelling and outperformed the control group. This was true for trained- and untrained words and whether the spellings were scored on orthographic- or phonological correctness. Results for reading measures will also be presented at the Annual Meeting. Conclusions: The results show that the synthetic speech condition significantly can develop beginners spelling and that the effect is comparable to the effect seen when a teacher provides corrective feedback. The benefit of invented spelling with feedback is not limited to trained words, and the results indicate a more general development of early spelling ability. Educational implications of the results will be discussed.