Bilingual is as bilingual does: Metalinguistic abilities of Arabic-speaking children

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The study explores the effects of the relationship between exposure to two languages in childhood and metalinguistic abilities. Arabic-speaking children who had been exposed to both spoken and literary Arabic were compared to Russian-Hebrew bilinguals and Hebrew monolinguals. All of the children were in kindergarten or first grade. The tests included language arbitrariness, phonological awareness, and vocabulary. As compared to the Hebrew monolinguals, the Russian-Hebrew bilinguals revealed the following pattern: higher performance on arbitrariness and phonological awareness tasks and lower performance on the vocabulary measure. The results of the Arab children mimicked those of the Russian-Hebrew bilinguals and differed from those of the Hebrew monolinguals. We conclude that exposure to literary Arabic requires the same intensive language analyses as those demanded of children exposed to languages as different as Russian and Hebrew.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-471
Number of pages21
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology (all)


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