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Associations and dissociations in reading and spelling French: Unexpectedly poor and good spellers

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Background and aims. The relationship between reading and spelling is generally considered to be very close, with good readers (R+) also being good spellers (S+) and poor readers (R) being poor spellers (S). We investigated both associations (R+ S+ and R S) and dissociations (R+ S and R S+) between reading and spelling words in French in order to identify the underlying mechanisms leading to patterns of dissociation.Sample. One thousand four hundred and fifty-three fifth graders (10-year-olds) were given a phonological task, and had to read and to spell regular and irregular words and pseudowords.Method. Reading level and reading performance (accuracy and speed) were tested individually. The spelling performance (accuracy) was tested in groups. Four groups of children were distinguished as a function of their reading and spelling scores (R+ S+, R S, R+ S, and R S+).Results. Most good readers were good spellers and most poor readers were poor spellers. Two small groups of pupils exhibited the double dissociation: some read fast and accurately, but had poor spelling scores, and exhibited a slight phonological deficit; others were accurate but slow readers with adequate spelling.Conclusion. Reading and spelling scores are usually closely associated (R+ S+ and R S). However, they can dissociate. When slight phonological deficits are associated with fast processing, children read accurately and quickly but their spelling performance is impaired (R+ S). In other cases (R S+), accurate but slow readers are good spellers. Longitudinal studies are required to confirm these observations and to better understand the genesis of these different profiles.
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Language: English

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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