Does brief exposure to a written text affect spelling performance in a second language?

Tamar Degani, Orr Yagev Bar-David, Lior Levy Adam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because both spelling and reading abilities tap orthographic knowledge, improvements in one ability may lead to improvements in the other. Here, we test whether spelling performance in a second-language (L2) can be improved by a short L2 reading task, as brief exposure to an L2 can increase the activation of L2 representations, making orthographic conventions more available. Participants were 89 adult native Hebrew speakers who were advanced learners of English as an L2. They performed a dictation task on 80 English words, before and after a brief exposure phase. In the Reading Aloud condition participants orally read two stories during the exposure phase, whereas in the Reading while Listening condition, participants silently read the same stories while listening to a recorded narration of the text. Of relevance, words targeted in the dictation task did not appear in the text, such that exposure effects could not be the result of item-specific learning. Results showed better spelling performance post-exposure than pre-exposure in the Reading Aloud condition. Further, analysis of spelling errors revealed that participants in the Reading while Listening condition preserved the phonology of the spelled words, more so post-exposure than pre-exposure. Critically, participants in a control nonlinguistic condition, who were not exposed to English during the exposure phase, did not show such spelling gains. Together, the findings reveal that spelling performance may be dynamically modulated by brief language exposure and suggest that brief reading experience may affect subsequent access to orthographic knowledge required for spelling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1901-1935
Number of pages35
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Language similarity
  • Read aloud
  • Read while listen
  • Reading
  • Spelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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