Reading Proficiency and Orthography Evidence from Hebrew and English

Joseph Shimron, Tamar Sivan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We conducted two experiments to test whether the orthography of readers’ first or second languages affects their reading time and comprehension in each. In both experiments, very skilled bilinguals read texts translated from Hebrew to English, or from English to Hebrew. Half the texts were originally written in Hebrew and the other half in English. In the first experiment, 24 native Hebrew speakers read two passages of four texts in the Hebrew version. Each read one of the texts voweled and the other one unvoweled. Twelve native English speakers read two passages from the same four texts in English. Participants in the study were either students or teachers at the University of Haifa. The English native speakers read the EngLish texts significantly faster than the native Hebrew speakers read the same texts in their Hebrew version. The origin of the text (English or Hebrew) and vowelization were nonsignificant, as was any interaction between the main factors. The comprehension of the Hebrew voweled texts was nearly significantly better than was the comprehension of the Hebrew unvoweled texts. In the second experiment, 24 advanced bilingual, Hebrew native speakers read two passages in Hebrew (one voweled and the other unvoweled) and two in English. Again, the reading time in English was significantly shorter. Post‐hoc comparisons showed that readingtime was shorter in English than in unvoweled Hebrew, but not shorter than in voweled Hebrew. Comprehension of English was not significantly different from comprehension of voweled Hebrew, but was significantly better than comprehension of unvoweled Hebrew.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-27
    Number of pages23
    JournalLanguage Learning
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1994

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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