Phonemic awareness and early spelling skills in urban Australian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children


This study investigated the phonological awareness and early spelling skills of 10 Australian Aboriginal and 10 non-Aboriginal children in their first year of schooling at urban schools. Phonological awareness was assessed using a standardized test (the Queensland University Inventory of Literacy), and children completed a standard spelling task that required them to generate spelling attempts in response to 12 line drawings of familiar animals. Spelling was analysed using the Spelling Scoring Sensitivity procedure. All children performed within the normal range for scores on the QUIL. However, as a group, Aboriginal children performed more poorly than their non-Aboriginal peers. Statistically significant differences were found on the subtests non-word spelling, non-word reading, and phoneme segmentation. Both formal scoring and informal observations were used to examine the spelling skills of participants. Possible explanations of the differences between groups are discussed in terms of health and cultural factors, and implications for the education of Aboriginal children are suggested. © 2010 The Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type





Aboriginal, indigenous, Literacy, spelling

Publication Date


Journal Title

International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology