The present study set out to explore the underpinnings of early reading acquisition in Arabic among native Arabic speakers. Specifically, we compared the contribution of intra-lexical versus supra-lexical factors, assessed in kindergarten, to individual differences in later word recognition and reading comprehension. Our aim was to determine the extent to which word recognition in Arabic can be characterized as “modular” given the unique complexities of this script. At the end of kindergarten, 194 native Arabic speakers living in Israel were administered a battery of tests assessing a variety of intra-lexical factors and supra-lexical factors. Word recognition and reading comprehension were assessed at the beginning of Grade 2. The results revealed that decoding skill in Arabic at the beginning of Grade 2 is relatively poor compared to English and Hebrew. Word recognition skill was found to depend mainly on sub-lexical and lexical abilities which together explained 33 % of the variance in Grade 2. The stronger predictors were phonemic awareness and phonological processing followed by early print concepts, morphology and visual-orthographic processing. Alongside these intra-lexical abilities, supra-lexical abilities also accounted for 11 % of the variance in word recognition, consistent with the multiple complexities of the script. Reading comprehension skill was found to rely heavily on decoding skill but also on higher-order linguistic and cognitive abilities.
|Title of host publication||Handbook of Arabic Literacy: Insights and Perspectives|
|Editors||Elinor Saiegh-Haddad, R. Malatesha Joshi|
|Place of Publication||Dordrecht|
|Number of pages||24|
|State||Published - 4 Apr 2014|