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Teacher use of tools and uptake of strategies to address diglossia challenges in teaching primary grade children to read in Arabic

Thu, April 18, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Golden Gate


Children growing up in Arabic speaking communities must learn both the colloquial language used in everyday life (spoken Arabic or SA) and a standard language (Modern Standard Arabic or MSA), used for writing and formal language functions. Linguistic elements such as grammatical structure, pronunciation, and vocabulary between SA and MSA can vary greatly, creating a language mismatch whereby students must learn to read in a language that is not yet their own. This diglossic situation is frequently cited as the main reason for students’ low performance in reading comprehension in national and international assessments and poses special challenges for professionals engaged in teaching children to read in Arabic. The learning process can be slower, particularly at the start as children learn the new language and requires more practice and pedagogic effort. The need for systematic professional involvement in the teaching of Arabic oral language and reading, especially for struggling readers, cannot be overstated.

World Learning, through its USAID-funded QITABI Early Grade Reading Project in Lebanon, has created and trained teachers to use tools and strategies that support reading teachers in tackling the diglossia challenge. Based on research in the field of read-aloud and text readability, these tools include oral language development strategies, criteria for selecting classroom library leveled books in Modern Standard Arabic, and read-aloud strategies that help children make meaningful connections between Modern Standard Arabic and colloquial varieties of Arabic used at home and on the playgrounds. Drawing on teacher performance and student reading progress data from primary schools across Lebanon, the speakers will present the extent to which teachers took up use of tools and strategies, and the impact on students’ reading development. Presenters will also showcase classroom strategies found to be most effective among struggling readers. The presenters will also discuss the complexity of strategies, the impact this has on teacher uptake, and provide recommendations for how learning of strategies can be scaffolded to best support teacher learning.


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