Head and Coordination



03/2019 – 03/2022

Project ScriVo

Vowel perception and writing skills of primary school children with German as a second language

The project ScriVo (lat. scribere and lat. vocali) investigates whether there exists an interaction between the auditory discrimination abilities of long and short vowels in German and their realization in German spelling by primary school children with German as a second language.

In contrast to other languages, the German language consists of an above-average vowel inventory and differentiates between long vowels (e. g. “Bahn“ ~ ‘train‘) and short vowels (e. g. “bunt“ ~ colorful‘). This distinction is also reflected in German spelling: Long vowels can be followed for example by the letter <h> (e. g. “Sohn” ~ ‘son’) or represented with a double vowel (e. g. “Boot” ~ ‘boat’) whereas short vowels i. a. always precede a double consonant (e. g. “Tasse” ~ ‘cup’).

Some studies suggest that second-language learners with an age of acquisition before entering primary school show difficulties in their second language vowel discrimination even after many years of second language exposure (see e. g. Darcy & Krüger, 2012, Pallier, Bosch & Sebastián-Gallés, 1997, Sebastián-Gallés & Soto-Faraco, 1999). Therefore, the project ScriVo investigates whether poor auditory vowel discrimination abilities by second language learners of German might have an impact on their German spelling skills.

Hence, the target group of investigation are monolingual and multilingual 3rd grade primary school children. Data will be collected on one hand through a standardized spelling test and a standardized test for auditory discrimination skills for primary school children, and on the other hand through non-word tasks and parent/teacher questionnaires.



  • Darcy, I., & Krüger, F. (2012). Vowel perception and production in Turkish children acquiring L2 German. Journal of Phonetics, 40(4), 568–581. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2012.05.001
  • Pallier, C., Bosch, L., & Sebastián-Gallés, N. (1997). A limit on behavioral plasticity in speech perception. Cognition, 64(3), B9-B17. doi:10.1016/S0010-0277(97)00030-9
  • Sebastián-Gallés, N., & Soto-Faraco, S. (1999). Online processing of native and non-native phonemic contrasts in early bilinguals. Cognition, 72(2), 111–123. doi:10.1016/S0010-0277(99)00024-4