The analysis of free writing, vocabulary, and dyslexia in English as a native and foreign language (English vs. Polish students)
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Submission date: 2019-01-22
Final revision date: 2019-02-26
Acceptance date: 2019-02-26
Online publication date: 2019-03-06
Publication date: 2019-03-07
Health Psychology Report 2019;7(1):57-68
The aim of our study was to compare free writing skills in English as a native language and a foreign language (in English and Polish students respectively). English and Polish have dissimilar orthographies in terms of grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules that is why we were curious to examine whether native and foreign speakers of English exhibit some similarities and/or differences in terms of writing and vocabulary, controlling the dyslexia factor at the same time.

Participants and procedure:
28 English junior high school students: 13 with dyslexia (ED), 15 without (END), and 32 Polish junior high school students: 16 with dyslexia (PD) and 16 without (PND) participated. They completed tests measuring free writing and vocabulary in English as a native (ED and END) and a foreign (PD and PND) language.

We found that both PD and PND knew fewer words of different difficulty, made more grammar errors, wrote shorter compositions, and composed shorter sentences than ED and END, demonstrating the influence of a NL and a negative linguistic transfer between synthetic Polish and analytical English. In a free writing task, tough, they committed an equal number of phonological and orthographic errors, probably choosing best-known words, which did not allow to demonstrate the expected deficits of students with dyslexia due to phonological deficit.

Generally, both PD and PND, despite having studied EFL for on average 7 years, failed to equal their ED and END peers’ performance in a simple free writing task. Dyslexia and/or related spelling errors correlated with vocabulary in both Polish and English students, confirming that dyslexia may limit one’s mental lexicon for both NL speakers and FL learners.

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