Short Vowels Versus Word Familiarity in the Reading Comprehension of Arab Readers: A Revisited Issue

Abdullah M. SERAYE


Arab readers, both beginning and advanced, are encouraged to read and accustomed to unvowelized and undiacriticized texts. Previous literature claimed that the presence of short vowels in the text would facilitate the reading comprehension of both beginning and advanced Arab readers. However, with a claimed strict controlling procedure, different results emerged, revealing that the only variable that affected the reading process of Arab adult skilled readers was word frequency, and its effect was limited to the time load of the reading process; this result raised the question of whether the neutral role of short vowels in the text reading process of experienced Arab readers would be maintained for less experienced readers, as represented by fourth graders, or whether word frequency would be the only variable that plays a role in their reading process. In experiment, 1,141 fourth-grade students were randomly assigned to 5 reading conditions: plain, only shaddah, short vowels plus shaddah, only short vowels, and finally the wrong short vowels plus shaddah. In experiment 2, 38 participants from the same population were assigned to a fully vowelized and diacriticized reading condition. Each participant was asked to read two texts, of high and low frequency words and then given recall and multiple-choice tests. In general, the multivariate analysis showed that the only manipulated variable that was found to affect their reading process in terms of reading time load and, to some degree, reading comprehension was word frequency, although its effect was marginal. Accordingly, pedagogical recommendations and future research were proposed.


Arabic short vowels, Arabic beginning readers, Reading comprehension, Arabic orthography

Paper Details

Paper Details
Topic Elementary Education
Pages 481 - 506
Issue IEJEE, Volume 8, Issue 3
Date of acceptance 02 November 2015
Read (times) 742
Downloaded (times) 324

Author(s) Details

Abdullah M. SERAYE

King Saud University,


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