Invented spelling as a tool to develop early literacy: The predictive effect on reading and spelling acquisition in Portuguese


  • Ana Albuquerque Centro de Investigação em Educação (CIE-ISPA), ISPA - Instituto Universitário | Portugal
  • Margarida Alves Martins Centro de Investigação em Educação (CIE-ISPA), ISPA - Instituto Universitário | Portugal



early literacy, reading acquisition, spelling acquisition, invented spelling, alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness


Phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge are commonly considered the most powerful literacy predictors at the beginning of schooling. Our aim was to analyse the contribution of invented spelling in kindergarten to reading and spelling in Grade 1 beyond the effects of those two variables. Participants were 92 Portuguese 5-year-old children. Phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, and invented spelling were assessed in kindergarten and were used to predict word reading and spelling at the end of first grade, using correlation statistics, sequential regression analyses, and path analysis models. General cognitive ability and parents’ educational level were control variables. The results showed that invented spelling predicted reading and spelling performance beyond phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge, with a statistically significant improved prediction in both cases. Alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness influenced invented spelling, which in turn influenced reading and spelling results in the first year of primary school. Additionally, alphabet knowledge directly influenced reading and spelling. Phonological awareness also had a direct influence on spelling but its effect on reading was only mediated by invented spelling. These results are in line with those of other linguistic contexts and provide insightful findings towards the importance of invented spelling at the onset of literacy learning.


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How to Cite

Albuquerque , A. ., & Alves Martins, M. (2022). Invented spelling as a tool to develop early literacy: The predictive effect on reading and spelling acquisition in Portuguese. Journal of Writing Research, 14(1), 113–131.