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The effectiveness of a phonological reading program among Hebrew and Arabic speaking children with IDD

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Aim: Arabic speaking children encounter significant difficulties when learning to read and write due to the differences between their spoken and written language – diglossia. This study investigated the effectiveness of a phonological reading program among Hebrew and Arabic speaking children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) considering diglossia.
Method: 60 children with mild-moderate IDD, ages 7-13, participated in the study. 2 groups of 15 Hebrew and 2 groups of 15 Arabic speaking children were divided into two groups receiving an intensive program practicing phonology and two groups receiving serving as control groups. Participants received language and functional assessments, letter identification and phonological awareness tests followed by 22 individualised sessions, followed by post-intervention evaluations.
Results: Results demonstrate a significant difference in phonological reading (sounding out non words and real words) between both groups that received intervention and the control groups. There were no significant differences between the Arabic and the Hebrew speaking groups receiving intervention across most measures.
Conclusion: Arabic and Hebrew are both Semitic languages. Arabic presents a specific difficulty in literacy development especially for young learners with IDD as it is characterised by diglossia. Yet, in this study for most measures, there was not a significant difference between the two groups receiving intervention using phonology strategies. Thus, it may be that the similarities between the two groups regarding their level of language and developmental difficulties were more dominant and affected their learning abilities more than the differences resulted from the diglossia.


Orit Hetzroni    
Univesity of Haifa

Samah Eid    
University of Haifa


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