Does Poor Spelling Equate to Limited Word Choice? The Role of Spelling in Word Choice
AuthorAvery, Mina Jo
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Does spelling matter? is a question that has been answered in many ways. Yes, spelling matters because conventional spelling is necessary for accurate transcription. Yes, spelling matters because spelling skills support phonemic awareness, word recognition skills, and the acquisition of the alphabetic principle. And yes, spelling matters because it influences writing fluency in young children. But, does spelling matter in other elements of writing? Spelling does appear to influence the total number of words written to some extent but does not nor appear to influence the overall quality of the written text. The question remains as to whether spelling influences word choice, a crucial element of writing. The question of whether spelling influences word choice was explored in this study. Academic extended definitions from urban middle school students were analyzed for word choice using the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). Spelling scores were based on the total number of words spelled correctly on the AVSI assessment. No correlation was found between spelling skills and word choice. A correlation was found, however, between spelling skills and writing fluency (total number of words written). A chi-square test for independence indicates that the strongest spellers wrote significantly longer text while the poorest spellers wrote significantly shorter extended definitions.