Oral language proficiency in kindergarten can facilitate the acquisition of reading and writing. However, in diglossic languages, like Arabic, the large gap between the spoken and the formal, modern standard(MSA) varieties of the language may restrict the benefits of oral language proficiency to subsequent literacy skills. Here, we tested, in a randomized controlled study, whether an intervention program, implemented in kindergarten, that familiarized the children with rhymes presented in MSA through recitation,facilitated reading and spelling in first grade. We also tested whether engaging the children in recitationaffords an advantage over repeated listening by itself and whether rhymes directly referring to the alphabet impart additional advantages. The children were assigned to one of four intervention conditions (10sessions, 2 months) wherein they either recited or repeatedly listened to nursery rhymes that were eitherrelated or unrelated to the alphabet, or engaged in nonlinguistic activities (control). A year later, allintervention groups read faster compared to a control group (nonlinguistic activity). The two recitationgroups gained in reading accuracy, reading efficiency, and spelling; spelling gains were found also inchildren who only listened to alphabet-related rhymes. The reciting groups were superior to the listeninggroups in all study measures (reading and spelling). The results suggest long-term contributions fromstructured interventions based on oral rhyme repetition, in kindergarten, to reading and spelling in firstgrade. Vocal recitations in kindergarten can benefit the mastering of literacy skills even in a languagethat differs from the one spoken in the child’s home.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association
- Oral language
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies