Language Skills and the Curriculum of a Diglossic Language


  • Hezi Brosh Ph.D.,

    1. Tel-Aviv University
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      Coordinator of the Arabic Teacher Training Program in The School of Education at Tel Aviv University, Israel.

  • Elite Olshtain Ph.D.

    1. Hebrew University
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      University of California is Professor of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


ABSTRACT  The question of the sequencing of skills is an important issue in language policy and curriculum design in general, and even more so in the case of a diglossic language such as Arabic. This paper tries to investigate the implications ofdiglossia on the order of linguistic skills acquisition in Arabic among Hebrew speakers in Israel. Looking at the Arabic program as implemented in the Israeli school system, and taking into consideration the diglossic nature of this language the following pragmatic question requires careful investigation: How does the knowledge of spoken Arabic acquired in elementary school affect the achievements in written Arabic in the 7th grade of junior high school? The study compared two groups of 7th graders: Those who studied spoken Arabic in elementary school (the experimental group) and those who did not study spoken Arabic in elementary school (the control group). The achievements in written Arabic of both groups were measured at the middle and at the end of the school year. The findings of the present study show that previous exposure to the spoken variety did not provide the students with an advantage in the acquisition of the written variety. In other words, the usage of previous schemata (spoken Arabic) did not have a facilitating effect on the acquisition of the written language.