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Title: The relationship between working memory and reading comprehension in L1 Arabic and L2 English for Arabic speaking children
Author: Elsayyad, H. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 0411
Awarding Body: Bath Spa University
Current Institution: Bath Spa University
Date of Award: 2014
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This mixed methodology research project comprised four studies that explored relationships between working memory and literacy, as well as the potential influence of home literacy, in L1 Arabic and L2 English children in grade six (aged 11) of mainstream Kuwaiti schools (N = 44 to 99). Quantitative studies 1 to 3 investigated these potential relationships using measures of working memory, literacy, phonological skills and vocabulary. Study 3 also contrasted vowelized and non-vowelized Arabic. Study 4 combined findings from approximately 70 completed parental questionnaires about home literacy background with qualitative data from four parental interviews, and compared these data with their children’s scores on working memory, literacy and vocabulary. Findings from studies 1 to 3 suggested that L1 and L2 literacy development can be predicted by working memory after controlling for word reading and vocabulary; and, in the case of Arabic, both vowelized and non-vowelized text showed relationships with working memory. Additionally, Arabic listening span and Arabic backward digit span were predictors of comprehension in L2 English, whereas only listening span predicted comprehension in L1 Arabic. Data indicated that the association between L1 working memory and L2 comprehension was dependent upon L2 language competence. Findings from study 4 also argue for influences on literacy and language skills of the child’s background, including cultural activities associated with upbringing and parental attitudes towards learning and literacy. Overall, similar predictors emerged for English and Arabic literacy skills arguing for these orthographies to rely on common processes. However, there is a need for further development of working memory measures for Arabic contexts to ensure that these measures assess skills appropriately, and for a consideration of parental influences on learning. Educators should consider both cognitive and sociocultural factors as foundations for teaching literacy, and support the establishment of communication routes between parents and schools.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: L Education (General) ; LB Theory and practice of education ; LC Special aspects of education ; LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa) ; PE English