Psycholinguistic Challenges in Processing the Arabic Language, pp.81-102
Authors: Raphiq Ibrahim, Learning Disabilities Department, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
Abstract: The 2006 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment ) report of worldwide scholastic achievements showed that about 50% of Israeli Arabic students were found to exhibit the lowest reading achievement scores in the PISA tests (level 1 and below) as compared to the other participating groups. Also, the MEITZAV national testing program in Israel (2001–2002) showed an achievement gap in language skills (reading and reading comprehension) between Arab students and Jewish students in the school systems. This gap was larger than those found in the other areas tested (mathematics, science and technology, and English). The aim of this chapter is to explore the cognitive basis of these difficulties, specifically the diglossic situation in Arabic. Furthermore, the chapter discusses the unique features of the Arabic language that might contribute to the inhibition and slowness of reading acquisition and might even hinder the acquisition of basic academic skills. Finally, a model with a comprehensive basis (cognitive and neurocognitive) will be built in order to explain the complex linguistic situation of beginning Arabic learners. This chapter is concerned with the cognitive evidence bearing on the nature of the mechanisms of language processing in Arabic which has critical linguistic characteristics and a diglossic factor. Additionally, other aspects, including a neurofunctional perspective, will be discussed.