Comparing Bilingual to Monolingual Learners on English Spelling: A Meta-analytic Review. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study reports on a meta-analysis to examine how bilingual learners compare with English monolingual learners on two English spelling outcomes: real-word spelling and pseudo-word spelling. Eighteen studies published in peer-reviewed journals between 1990 and 2014 were retrieved. The study-level variables and characteristics (e.g. sample size, study design and research instruments) were coded, and 29 independent effect sizes across the 18 retrieved studies were analysed. We found that bilinguals outperformed monolinguals on real-word spelling overall and more so in early grades, but monolinguals outperformed bilinguals on pseudo-word spelling. Further, bilinguals at risk for reading difficulties did better on real-word spelling than monolinguals at risk for reading difficulties. Having investigated systematic sources of variability in effect sizes, we conclude that in comparison with their monolingual peers, bilingual learners, especially those from alphabetic L1 backgrounds, are able to master constrained skills, such as English spelling, in the current instructional context. Copyright 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

published proceedings

  • Dyslexia

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhao, J., Quiroz, B., Dixon, L. Q., & Joshi, R. M.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Zhao, Jing||Quiroz, Blanca||Dixon, L Quentin||Joshi, R Malatesha

publication date

  • August 2016