April 2007. Volume 2 Issue 1
Does Exposure to Second Spoken Language
Facilitate Word Reading Ability?
University of Haifa and Cognitive Neurology Unit
Rambam Medical Center, Haifa
Dr. Raphiq Ibrahim is a cognitive and neuropsychologist interested in visual and auditory word perception, language and bilingualism and hemispheric specialization for higher cognitive function. He lives in the Galilee region in Israel and works in research and teaching. He is a lecturer at the Learning Disabilities Department of Haifa University and, in addition, works as a Neuropsychologist in the Cognitive Neurology Unit at Ramba Medical Center in Haifa. Among the courses he teaches are: Integrative Introduction to Language Acquisition, Spoken Language, an Introduction to Developmental Neuropsychology, Psychological and Neuropsychological Assessment, and Verbal Information processing in Arabic: Processes and Disabilities.
This study examines the relationship of reading skills to previous exposure to a second language. Its purpose is to provide direct evidence of a causal role for bilingualism in reading acquisition. Single word reading, connected text measures, and vocabulary measures are compared among three groups of first graders of monolingual Hebrew speakers, bilingual Russian-Hebrew speakers and monolingual Arab speakers. One-way ANOVA and correlations between the measure of reading speed and errors of text and measures of vocabulary are compared in Hebrew and Arabic groups. The results reveal that language experience affects reading, as Russian-Hebrew bilinguals are faster and more accurate in reading text than monolingual Hebrew children, and both are better than Arabic children. It was concluded that exposure to a second language in early childhood positively affects reading skills at the first-grade level. This finding concurs with other reports showing that bilingualism is a powerful predictor of the speed and effieciency of reading acquisition (Da Fontoura and Siegel, 1995).
Key words: Single word reading, connected text measures, vocabulary measure, Russian-Hebrew bilinguals, Hebrew monolinguals, Arab speakers
See PDF or SWF for full article