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POMAS-FR: Misspellings in French elementary school (Joye et al., 2022)

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posted on 24.08.2022, 19:52 authored by Nelly Joye, Lucie Broc, Chloë Ruth Marshall, Julie Elizabeth Dockrell

Purpose: This study offers the first description of misspellings across elementary school using the Phonological, Orthographic and Morphological Assessment of Spelling (POMAS), a linguistic framework based on Triple Word Form theory, adapted for French (POMAS-FR). It aims to test the “universality” of POMAS and its suitability to track development in French spelling.

Method: One hundred ninety-four typically developing French children (Grades 1–5) produced a written narrative and words-to-dictation. These were analyzed for productivity and accuracy. Misspellings were then analyzed using POMAS-FR.

Results: Productivity and accuracy were better in the later grades. POMAS-FR provided a novel framework for tracking error types in our French sample. The data showed a linear trend for text production, whereby the proportion of phonological errors decreased rapidly in the early grades, while orthographic errors decreased and morphological errors increased throughout elementary school. Words-to-dictation showed a more stable pattern, with a steady decrease in phonological errors, and a stable proportion of orthographic and morphological errors. The specific error types found within each linguistic category are described for both tasks.

Conclusions: The POMAS-FR allowed for the characterization of linguistic knowledge involved in learning to spell French across elementary school. Interplays between different types of linguistic knowledge were evident at all grades. In comparison with other writing systems, French text spelling competence relied heavily on morphological knowledge. These results suggest POMAS may be applied to other orthographic systems. It also highlights the importance of task and word selection for the qualitative evaluation of spelling.

Supplemental Material S1. Characteristics of the 17 words used from the WIAT dictation task. 

Supplemental Material S2. POMAS-FR coding scheme.

Supplemental Material S3. Frequency table for the number and proportion of each fine-grained spelling error type across grades in text production.

Supplemental Material S4. Frequency table for the number and proportion of each fine-grained spelling error type across grades in dictation.

Joye, N., Broc, L., Marshall, C. R., & Dockrell, J. E. (2022). Spelling errors in French elementary school students: A linguistic analysis. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_JSLHR-21-00507


This study was designed and planned with support from a University College London Institute of Education PhD scholarship to the first author and written with support from the Heather van der Lely Foundation awarded to the third author.