Bi-cultural aspects of second language learning in a bilingual context

| December 3, 2013
Title
Bi-cultural aspects of second language learning in a bilingual context

Keywords: Arabic, bilingual, diglossia, Hebrew, orthography, reading, socio-cultural factors

Author

Raphiq Ibrahim
The Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center
for the Study of Learning Disabilities,
University of Haifa

Mila Schwartz
Oranim Academic College of Education,
Faculty for Advanced Studies

Janina Kahn-Horwitz
Oranim Academic College of Education,
Faculty for Advanced Studies

Mark Leikin
Learning Disabilities Department,
University of Haifa

Bio

Raphiq Ibrahim is a senior researcher at the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities at University of Haifa, where he is an Associate Professor of Neuropsychology. He is investigating visual word perception, speech perception and production, and bilingualism. His studies in neuropsychology focus on hemispheric specialization of higher cognitive functions with emphasis on the neuropsychological basis of reading and language dysfunctions.

Mila Schwartz is a senior Lecturer at Oranim College of Education and an adjunct investigator at the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, University of Haifa, Israel. Her research interests include studying of bilingualism and early bilingual education, language development of early sequential bilinguals, family language policy,and immigrant teachers’ pedagogical development.

Janina Kahn-Horwitz is a lecturer at Oranim Academic College of Education and an adjunct investigator at the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities at the University of Haifa, Israel. Her research interests include individual differences in language learning and second language literacy development.

Mark Leikin is a professor at the Department of Special Education and Head of Research Laboratory for Neurocognitive Examination of Giftedness at the University of Haifa. His research focuses on bilingual language acquisition and processing, language components in normal and abnormal reading processes and neurophysiology of language and individual differences.

Abstract

Taking into account the effect of diglossia in Arabic and its orthographic complexity, this study is aiming to investigate differences between Arabic-speaking (L1) and Hebrew-speaking (L1) parents’ self-reports on their children’s language practice at home within the framework of Family Language Policy. Additionally, we (the researchers) aim to examine how children’s language practice at home as a part of their Family Language Policy were linked to their word and text reading accuracy and rate in Arabic versus Hebrew. Native Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking 3rd and 4th grade children from two bilingual Arabic/Hebrew-speaking schools participated. Speed and accuracy measures were examined in reading words, pseudo words, and texts in Arabic and Hebrew. We have seen that measures of speed and accuracy of reading in Hebrew among Hebrew speakers were significantly higher than measures of reading in Arabic among Arabic speakers. In addition, Hebrew speakers gained poor results in reading Arabic (L2) compared to Arabic speakers in Hebrew (L2). Our conclusion was that Hebrew speakers did not succeed in transferring their proficiency and success in reading in their mother tongue to success in reading the second language. The psycholinguistic and the socio-linguistic explanations and implications of these findings are discussed.

See page: 65-89

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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 15 Issue 4