Bilingual Oral Reading Fluency and Reading Comprehension:The case of Arabic/Hebrew (L1) - English (FL) Readers

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The relevance of Oral Reading Fluency(ORF) to reading comprehension in the nativelanguage (L1) and in English -; a foreignlanguage (L2) -; was studied. Fifty universitystudents, twenty-two Arabic and twenty-eight Hebrew nativespeakers, read both L1 and English texts aloudand reported their comprehension on-line.Results showed that ORF was not correlated withreading comprehension in L1. However, inEnglish, the two reading measures weresignificantly correlated. Next, the ORF andreading comprehension scores were each analyzedusing a 2 × 2 ANOVA with repeated measures onlanguage (L1 versus L2) and with nativelanguage (Arabic versus Hebrew) as a betweensubject factor. This analysis revealed a maineffect of language, with both sets of scoreshigher in L1 than in L2. However, a nativelanguage effect was only traced in the ORFscores, favoring the Hebrew native group. Thefindings demonstrate the importance of ORF inadult L2 reading comprehension. Linguisticproficiency and the unique properties ofunvoweled script are used to explain theabsence of a significant correlation betweenORF and comprehension in L1 reading. Diglossia is proposed as a tenable explanationof the lower ORF scores among the Arabic nativesample.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)717-736
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2003


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