We examined reading proficiency, focusing on fluency, in 56 Russian-speaking language minority (LM) students and 56 native Hebrew-speaking (NH) peers. Fifth-grade students completed measures of Hebrew reading accuracy and fluency from word to text level as well as phonological awareness (PA), RAN and vocabulary. LM students read single words less accurately than NH students, in contrast to previous findings. This result can be understood in the context of Hebrew reading development, the transition to unvowelized reading at this age and the reduced vocabulary knowledge of the LM group. LM students also had lower accuracy and fluency in reading vowelized, and to a greater extent, unvowelized texts. These findings suggest that developing fluent text reading especially in the unvowelized Hebrew script is challenging for LM students, since it requires integrating linguistic and contextual information. Regression analyses demonstrated that although for NH students both PA and RAN were significant predictors of text reading fluency, for LM students PA was a major predictor of fluency, but RAN was not. This finding indicates that LM students relied on basic reading skills, and were less able to recruit automaticity to support fluent reading. Thus, the current results highlight the challenges of developing fluent reading among LM students, and underscore how patterns of achievement and difficulty might be related to the specific linguistic and orthographic characteristics of the societal language.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 22, 2016
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