Reading and Writing

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 733–747 | Cite as

The influence of diglossia in Arabic on narrative ability: evidence from analysis of the linguistic and narrative structure of discourse among pre-school children

  • Mark Leikin
  • Raphiq Ibrahim
  • Hazar Eghbaria


The aim of the present study is to examine the influence of diglossia on linguistic and narrative structures in Arab kindergarten children by testing performance in production and comprehension. The 30 children who participated in our study were asked to retell one narrative text that was read aloud to them in Literary Arabic and another narrative text that was retold to them in Spoken Arabic. Then they were given a comprehension test that included questions pertaining to each of the two stories. In addition, two questionnaires were filled in by their parents, for collecting personal data and evaluating the level of the children’s exposure to Literary Arabic at home. The findings show a significant advantage in the retold spoken text over the retold literary text and in understanding the narrative-discourse. In addition, the findings show that the linguistic gap between Literary and Spoken Arabic seems to impact the level of mastery over linguistic structures in both forms of Arabic. Both of these findings indicate that, despite the fact that the exposure to Literary Arabic at a young age is informal and indirect, pre-school children are able to use linguistic structures from the literary language and to comprehend narrative texts. These results, with a particular emphasis on spoken and literary linguistic knowledge in pre-school children, are discussed herein in light of previous behavioral findings and models of development of narrative abilities in the Arabic language.


Pre-school Arabic Diglossia Narrative Linguistic Comprehension 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, Faculty of EducationUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Learning Disabilities, Faculty of EducationUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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