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Beyond Phonology

The Role of Morphological and Orthographic Spelling Skills in German

Kargl, Reinhard; Landerl, Karin

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000165
Original Articles

German orthography has highly consistent grapheme–phoneme correspondences, whereas the consistency of phoneme–grapheme correspondences is much lower, but morphological consistency is very high. After giving a short description of German language and orthography, the current article reviews earlier findings on early spelling acquisition, showing that even poor spellers are well able to produce phonologically adequate spellings early on. In contrast, the acquisition of orthographic markers, which are mostly morphology-based, is a long-term enterprise. We present data for the close association of morphological awareness (assessed by a classroom measure requiring students to build new word forms based on presented pseudowords) with orthographic spelling skills. In a large sample (N = 796) of students in Grades 4–7, morphological awareness predicted children's spelling skills above and beyond fluid intelligence and phonological spelling skills. In the last section of this article, we review findings on the efficiency of morphology-based spelling intervention in German.

Institute for Reading and Spelling, Graz, Austria (Mr Kargl); and Institute of Psychology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria (Dr Landerl).

Corresponding Author: Karin Landerl, PhD, Institute of Psychology, University of Graz, Universitätsplatz 2, 8010 Graz, Austria (

R.K. discloses that he is a co-author of the commercial intervention programme MORPHEUS. K.L. indicates that she has no financial and no nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

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