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Reading and reading-related skills in Arabic-English bilingual speakers in the UK and Saudi Arabia for typical children and children with reading difficulties

Alhelfawi, S. H. (2023) Reading and reading-related skills in Arabic-English bilingual speakers in the UK and Saudi Arabia for typical children and children with reading difficulties. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00112468


This thesis examines reading and reading-related skills in typically developing children and children with specific reading difficulties in Grades 3-6 who are learning to read in Arabic and English, as well as monolingual Arabic-speaking children. The children were tested on measures of phonological awareness (PA), rapid automatised naming (RAN) and phonological memory (PM), as well as reading efficiency and reading accuracy. Study 1 investigated Arabic-English biliterate children who attended schools either in the UK or Saudi Arabia. They performed better in English than Arabic on reading efficiency, PA, and RAN tests. Those in the UK showed higher scores than those in Saudi Arabia in English and, surprisingly, in Arabic. However, there was no significant difference between the participants’ reading accuracy and PM scores for English and Arabic. Then, a comparison was performed with Arabic monolingual speaking children who attended private schools. There was a significant difference between the level of Arabic reading efficiency of the biliterate children and monolingual readers. No differences in reading accuracy performance were found between the biliterates and monolinguals. In addition, the monolinguals slightly outperformed the biliterates in the PA and PM tasks, and they completed the RAN (digits and letters) tasks much more quickly. Furthermore, PA and RAN digits, but not PM, were significant predictors of reading word efficiency in Arabic. However, only PA predicted reading accuracy in Arabic. The participants in Study 2 were 28 Arabic-English bilingual children with reading difficulties. Their PA, PM, RAN, reading accuracy and reading efficiency were found to be worse than those of the typically developing children in Study 1, indicating they had impairments in phonological processing. The large differences found between the languages and the country of residence suggest that exposure to language, reading instruction and education system may differentially affect learning to read in English and Arabic.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Joseph, H. and Powell, D.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:112468

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