Examining Factors That Predict Arabic Word Reading in First and Second Graders

Elsayed E. A. Hassanein, Qatar University
Evelyn S. Johnson, Boise State University
Yousef M. Alshaboul, Qatar University
Sayed R. Ibrahim, Qatar University
Ahmed M. Megreya, Qatar University


Although there is a growing research base on Arabic literacy development to inform our understanding of the factors that account for variability in word reading skill, the current body of research is limited by two major constraints. First, although several studies examine one or more early literacy constructs, we were able to locate only two studies that included phonological, orthographic and morphological factors together. Second, all of the studies conducted to date rely on the use of researcher-developed measures that include tasks associated with the construct(s) of interest, but that are not based on a comprehensive conceptual framework of these constructs. In this study, 188 students in grades 1–2 completed measures of phonological processing, orthographic knowledge, morphological awareness, and word reading. Results of multiple regression analyses indicate that phonological awareness, and, in particular, elision, accounted for significant variance in word reading, regardless of how word reading was measured. Morphological awareness and orthographic knowledge measures also accounted for significant variance in some word reading measures. RAN and Phonological Memory measures only contributed to some measures of word reading ability. Results are discussed in the context of the existing literature on Arabic. Implications and next steps for research are discussed.