Two cohorts of mainstream children (grades 2-5) and one cohort of children with learning disabilities (LD; grades 3-5), all Arabic speaking children in Kuwait, were given measures of reading comprehension fluency and orthographic discrimination to assess the relationship between the two. Additional measures of phonological processing (decoding and awareness), speed of processing (rapid naming) and memory (visual as well as phonological/verbal tasks) were included either because these have been found to be predictive of Arabic literacy or to provide an assessment of alternative interpretations of any influence of the orthographic task. The findings indicated that the orthographic measure predicted variability in the comprehension fluency over-and-above that predicted by the other measures in the study. This was significant in the older mainstream children (grades 4 and 5) when controlling for phonological processing, but was not in the younger grades (2 and 3) where experience text that incorporating short vowel markers is dominant. The LD group showed little evidence of an influence of phonological processing but did of orthographic processing. The findings are discussed in terms of the skills required to process Arabic literacy and potential causes of literacy learning difficulties among Arabic children.
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.