The Role of Emergent Bilingualism in the Development of Morphological Awareness in Arabic and Hebrew Purpose The purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of dual language development and cross-linguistic influence on morphological awareness in young bilinguals' first language (L1) and second language (L2). We examined whether (a) the bilingual children (L1/L2 Arabic and L1/L2 Hebrew) precede their monolingual Hebrew- or Arabic-speaking ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2016
The Role of Emergent Bilingualism in the Development of Morphological Awareness in Arabic and Hebrew
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Mila Schwartz
    Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel
  • Haitham Taha
    Sakhnin College, Israel
  • Hanan Assad
    University of Haifa, Israel
  • Ferdos Khamaisi
    Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel
  • Zohar Eviatar
    Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Mila Schwartz: milasch@bgu.ac.il
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird
    Associate Editor: Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2016
The Role of Emergent Bilingualism in the Development of Morphological Awareness in Arabic and Hebrew
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2016, Vol. 59, 797-809. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-14-0363
History: Received December 31, 2014 , Revised June 17, 2015 , Accepted December 31, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2016, Vol. 59, 797-809. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-14-0363
History: Received December 31, 2014; Revised June 17, 2015; Accepted December 31, 2015

Purpose The purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of dual language development and cross-linguistic influence on morphological awareness in young bilinguals' first language (L1) and second language (L2). We examined whether (a) the bilingual children (L1/L2 Arabic and L1/L2 Hebrew) precede their monolingual Hebrew- or Arabic-speaking peers in L1 and L2 morphological awareness, and (b) 1 Semitic language (Arabic) has cross-linguistic influence on another Semitic language (Hebrew) in morphological awareness.

Method The study sample comprised 93 six-year-old children. The bilinguals had attended bilingual Hebrew−Arabic kindergartens for 1 academic year and were divided into 2 groups: home language Hebrew (L1) and home language Arabic (L1). These groups were compared to age-matched monolingual Hebrew speakers and monolingual Arabic speakers. We used nonwords similar in structure to familiar words in both target languages, representing 6 inflectional morphological categories.

Results L1 Arabic and L1 Hebrew bilinguals performed significantly better than Arabic- and Hebrew-speaking monolinguals in the respective languages. Differences were not found between the bilingual groups. We found evidence of cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness from Arabic to Hebrew in 2 categories−bound possessives and dual number−probably because these categories are more salient in Palestinian Spoken Arabic than in Hebrew.

Conclusions We conclude that children with even an initial exposure to L2 reveal acceleration of sensitivity to word structure in both of their languages. We suggest that this is due to the fact that two Semitic languages, Arabic and Hebrew, share a common core of linguistic features, together with favorable contextual factors and instructional factors.

Acknowledgments
Our grateful thanks go to the Director of Educational Programs, Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel “Hand in Hand,” Dr. Inas Deeb, and to the School Principal of the Bridge over the Wadi (Gesher al HaWadi), Dr. Hasan Agbaria, and the School Principal of the Jerusalem School, Nadia Kinani. We would also like to thank the teachers in the kindergartens, for their unlimited support and fruitful collaboration, and the children for their active participation.
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