Open Journal of Modern Linguistics
2013. Vol.3, No.4, 330-336
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ojml) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ojml.2013.34042
Spelling Accuracy of Consonants in Arabic among Negev
Middle Eastern Studies Department, Ben Gurion University, Be’er Sheva, Israel
Received July 23rd, 2013; revised August 26th, 2013; accepted September 5th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Alon Fragman. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attri-
bution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
This study explored spelling development of the written form of Arabic among native Bedouin Arabic
(BA) speakers in second, fourth, and sixth grades (N = 347) from two recognized authorities in south Is-
rael. Specifically, this study focused on guttural (/ḥ/), uvular-velar (/q/ and /ġ/), emphatic (/ḏḍ/, /ṯṭ/, and
̠), and dental (/ṯ/) consonants. Three tasks were constructed for this study: real word dictation,
pseudo-word dictation, and real word recognition. The results for the real word task, pseudo-word task,
and the word recognition task indicated significant improvement in spelling accuracy of the consonants
targeted among fourth graders, however there was no additional improvement among the students in the
sixth grade. It was also found that with emphatic phonemes accuracy is significantly lower than with all
other phonemic groups at all elementary grades. In addition, gender differences were observed with sig-
nificantly higher scores for girls in all grades targeted for all tasks. Pedagogical implications of these
findings are discussed.
Keywords: Negev Bedouin; Spelling Accuracy; Gender Differences; Consonants
Bedouin minority comprises 15% of Arab citizens in Israel
according to the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel (2013). It
consists of more than 250,000 Israeli citizens (Ben Sales, 2012),
of which approximately 70% live in the Negev.
Studies conducted in the Bedouin sector in Israel showed
very low achievements among the Bedouin students learning in
the educational system, and pointed out the existence of illiter-
acy to some degree, even in high schools (Ben David, 1994).
Additional studies reported severe educational difficulties of
Bedouin students at school and higher percentage of dropouts
from the educational system, compared with other native Ara-
bic non-Bedouin teenagers, and compared with the Hebrew
sector (Ben Rabi, Amiel, Nijm, & Dolev, 2009).
Most of the researches so far focused on mapping the Bedouin
dialects (Abdel-Massih & Bahig, 1978; Abu El-Hij’a, 2012;
Al-Wer & De Jong, 2009; Blanc, 1970; Fischer & Jastrow,
1980; Holes, 1995a; Holes, 1995b; Shawarba, 2007), with spe-
cific attention to the Bedouin dialect of the Galilee in north
Israel (Rosenhouse, 1980, 1984, 1995a, 1995b; Rosenhouse &
Katz, 1980), the Bedouin dialects of central and southern Sinai
(de Jong, 2011), and outside Israel, for example Bedouin dia-
lects in Jordan (Palva, 2008), Egypt and eastern Lybia (Mitchell,
1960), Iraq (Palva, 2009), and Kuwait (Ayyad, 2011); socio-
linguistic aspects and stylistic variation of the Bedouin dialects
of the Negev (Henkin, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2005,
2007a, 2007b, 2009a, 2009b, 2010, 2011); Bedouin poetry
(Bailey, 1991; Holes & Abu Athera, 2007; Jargy, 1989); an-
thropological aspects of Bedouin society (Borg, 1999, 2001;
Borg & Kressel, 1995, 2001); Bedouin manners from socio-
linguistic point of view (Piamenta, 1979). However, none of
these studies has ever explored aspects of language acquisition
and specifically the spelling development of the written form of
Arabic among Bedouin students in elementary schools from a
linguistic point of view, which is the main purpose of this
The Phonetic and Phonological System of Arabic
Arabic is a Semitic language, read and written from right to
left. Its alphabetic script consists of print and handwriting sys-
tems. Arabic orthography is comprised of 29 letters, which
primarily represent consonants, but also include three letters
that carry a double function and represent long vowels in some
cases. Lexicon words are formed by inserting the root into the
word pattern (Berent, Marcus, Shimron, & Gafos, 2002). All
verbs and most nouns are written primarily as three to four
letter consonantal roots that are differently affixed and vow-
elled to form the words of the lexicon (Berman, 1978; Ravid &
Schiff, 2006). The final form of a word in the lexicon is defined
by patterns, regularly formed by a combination of vowels and
other extra consonants, and produce nouns with number and
gender (Shimron, 2003). There are three short vowels which are
optionally represented within consonantal graphemes by dia-
critic vowel marks above or below the body of the word. The
short vowels also carry case-marking at the ends of most nouns
in the written form of the language.
In addition to the diacritics for the three short vowels, there
are additional reading signs that contribute phonology to the
Arabic alphabet: the sukūn, which indicates the absence of a
vowel, šaddah, which signals doubling of a consonant, hamzah,
Open Access 331
which signals the glottal-stop, maddah, which signals doubling
of the letter alif and vowel lengthening, and waṣlah, which
signals that the alif is not pronounced under certain conditions
(Bauer, 1996; Fischer, 1998). All these marks rarely appear in
adult texts. Therefore, beginning readers must learn to supply
missing vowels to identify what word a string of consonants
represents, based on contextual and other available information
(Hamada & Koda, 2008), unless the text is completely vow-
Further, 22 of the 29 letters in Arabic are written connected
to the following letters, and only six letters are written with no
connection to the following letter. In addition to their connec-
tivity, most of the letters that are written connected to the fol-
lowing letter are represented by multiple shapes, and are written
differently according to their placement in the word.
Diacritic dots are another integral linguistic characteristic.
They are an obligatory part of 15 letters. These letters in Arabic
share a similar or even identical basic structure and are distin-
guished only on the basis of the existence, location and number
of dots. Thus, the fact that similar graphemes represent differ-
ent phonemes, and at the same time different graphemes repre-
sent the same phoneme, makes grapheme-phoneme correspond-
dences quite complex in Arabic.
Several studies in the past few years have pointed out diffi-
culties with the acquisition of the written form of Arabic among
native Arabic speakers (Abu Rabia, 2001, 2002; Abu Rabia &
Siegel, 1995; Abu Rabia & Taha, 2004, 2006; Azzam, 1984,
1993; Bentin & Ibrahim, 1996; Eviatar, Ibrahim, & Ganayim,
2004; Ibrahim, Eviatar, & Aharon-Perez, 2002; Saiegh-Haddad,
2003, 2004, 2005, 2007; Saiegh-Haddad, Levin, Hende, & Ziv,
2011) For example, it was found that reaction times for visual
recognition of Arabic words by senior high school native Ara-
bic skilled readers were longer than reaction times for Hebrew
words by native Hebrew high school seniors (Bentin & Ibrahim,
1996), English words by native English undergraduates, and
Serbo-Croatian words by native Serbo-Croatians undergradu-
ates (Frost, Katz, & Bentin, 1987). It was also found that letter
recognition process is faster and more accurate in Hebrew (L2)
than in Arabic (L1) among bilingual native Arabic adults (Abu
Rabia, 2001). Other studies reported that the reading process in
Arabic among native Arabic skilled readers is slower than the
reading process in Hebrew among native Hebrew skilled read-
ers (Azzam, 1984, 1993; Ibrahim, Eviatar, & Aharon-Perez,
2002). It was suggested that the complexity of Arabic orthog-
raphy imposes a linguistic burden that is created by additional
orthographic information in Arabic, as compared with other
orthographies, such as the Hebrew orthography (Azzam, 1993;
Eviatar, Ibrahim, & Ganayim, 2004; Ibrahim, Eviatar, &
Aharon-Perez, 2002), and English orthography (Eviatar & Ibra-
him, 2004; Khaldieh, 1996). According to these studies, this
linguistic burden of the Arabic orthography plays a significant
role in the acquisition of the written form of Arabic, compared
with other languages, and may cause a delay in the literary
development and in the ability to achieve automatic reading
(Ibrahim & Eviatar, 2001; Ibrahim et al., 2002; Eviatar, Ibrahim,
& Ganayim, 2004; Ibrahim & Aharon-Peretz, 2005). Trying to
better understand the linguistic features that affect the reading
process in the written for, of Arabic, a recent study by Taha,
Ibrahim and Khateb (2013) among native Arabic skilled read-
ers found that time reaction for connected as opposed to non-
connected word did not present a challenge among the popula-
An additional important aspect of Arabic is its diglossic na-
ture. Diglossia refers to the existence of two different types of
language contact systems of the same language (Trudgill, 2009),
high prestigious standard (written) and low prestigious non-
standard (spoken), in the use of the same community. Those
two systems significantly differ from one another in vocabulary,
and in several aspects of phonology and grammar as well (Fer-
guson, 1959). In Arabic, the standard literary language coexists
with a very divergent colloquial variety. Spoken Arabic is the
mother language of all native Arabic speakers, and consists of
thousands of dialects, which vary widely along geographical,
religious and socioeconomic status from one Arabic speaking
community to another (Freћa, 1989; Holes, 1995a). However,
spoken Arabic is often looked down upon as not “real Arabic”
(Henkin, 2010). Literary Arabic is used in written form for
formal communication, media, poetry, and prayer, and is learned
at school as what some consider a second language (Ayari,
1996; Saiegh-Haddad, 2003). Thus, diglossia, as a salient phe-
nomenon of Arabic, makes Arab speakers bilingual (Eviatar &
Ibrahim, 2000). This complicated linguistic situation was found
as the main cause for low reading achievements among Arab-
speaking students in Israel in PIRLS 2006 tests (Zuzovsky,
2008). Studies have also shown that diglossia affects linguistic
processes, including phonological awareness, reading words
and spelling (Abu Rabia & Taha, 2004; Saiegh-Haddad, 2003,
2004, 2005, 2007).
This study explored spelling development of the written form
of Arabic among native Arabic Bedouin second, fourth, and
sixth graders from three recognized authorities in south Israel.
Bedouin Arabic dialects differ from sedentary dialects in
several linguistic respects (Rosenhouse, 1984). For example,
phonologically, the phoneme /q/ in Bedouin dialects is a voiced
[g], while it is pronounced as [k], [ḳ], or [q] in rural areas, and
['] (glottal stop) in urban dialects. In addition, an aXC se-
quence in Bedouin dialects is broken by a stressable /a/ (X be-
ing a back consonant), e.g. gahwah > gaháwah “coffee”. Other
sedentary vs. Bedouin linguistic differences have been de-
scribed by Henkin (1996, 2000, 2011), and Rosenhouse (1984:
ch. 3). The core of Negev Arabic is a Bedouin heterogeneous
dialect with mixed elements in phonology, morphology, pros-
ody, in addition to a register scale (Henkin, 2010).
In this study we focused on developmental aspects of spell-
ing of a sample of seven phonemes, that was selected for the
purpose of this study representing all phonemic groups: guttural
(/h/), uvular-velar (/q/ and /ʁ/), emphatic (/ḏ/, /ṯ/, and /ð
Research Aim and Research Question
What is the developmental trajectory for accurate spelling of
consonants (guttural: /h/, uvular-velar: /q/ and /ʁ/, emphatic: /ḏ/,
/ṯ/, and /ð
̠/, and dental: /θ/) in the written form of Arabic among
native Bedouin speaking students in the second, fourth, and
Based on previous studies among native Arabic students
(Abu-Rabia & Siegel, 1995; Abu-Rabia & Taha, 2004; Saiegh-
Haddad, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007), we hypothesized that native
Bedouin speakers, like other native Arabic speakers, would
make phonological errors, for example errors in representing
phonemes that do not exist, or phonemes which sound different
in their home language, for example the word /qahwah/ (coffee)
is pronounced /gahwah/ by native Bedouin speakers. Nonethe-
less, it had been expected that there will be a significant im-
provement with spelling accuracy over time: from second to
fourth grade, and from fourth to sixth grade as well.
Participants: The study included 347 elementary school stu-
dents from second (N = 105), fourth (N = 113), and sixth (N =
129) grades, boys (N = 171) and girls (N = 176), learning in
two recognized Bedouin local authorities in the Negev. The
schools are considered to be of average socio-economic back-
ground based on an index determined by the Israeli Central
Bureau of Statistics (Central Bureau of Statistic, 2013). Stu-
dents with learning disabilities of any kind were excluded from
Task construction: This study included five experimental
tasks that were created for the study: real word dictation, pseu-
do-word dictation, word recognition, semi-structured writing
assignment, and picture story writing assignment. Real word
dictation, pseudo-word dictation, and word recognition were
based on similar tasks used in Russak & Fragman (2013).
Real word dictation: This task was comprised of eight real
words. Each word included two or three of the phoneme-
grapheme consonants targeted (See appendix for a list of the
real words used in the study). The words were dictated in class
by a native Arabic speaker accompanied to the researcher. Each
word was dictated three times. A score of 1 or 0 was given
based on correct or incorrect spelling for the phonemes targeted
only (Cronbach’s alpha: .92).
Pseudo-word dictation: Similarly to the previous task, the
pseudo-word task was comprised of eight pseudo-words. Each
word included two or three of the phoneme-grapheme conso-
nants targeted (See appendix for a list of the pseudo-words used
in the study). The pseudo words were created by changing one
letter from the real words used in the real word dictation task.
For example: //miθqāj/ instead of /miθqāl/ (weigh-scale). The
words were read live in class by a native Arabic speaker. Each
word was read aloud three times. A score of 1 or 0 was given
based on correct or incorrect spelling for the phonemes targeted
only (Cronbach’s alpha: .91).
Real word recognition: In this task the students were re-
quired to recognize correctly spelled words in pairs of words
where one word was spelled correctly and the other word was
spelled incorrectly as a result of changing one grapheme only,
for example جح
َّ – جخ
َّ. This task, which was based on a similar
task used by Siegel, Share & Geva (1995) was comprised of 20
word pairs (Cronbach’s alpha: .88). (See appendix for a list of
the word pairs used in the study).
Procedure: This study was conducted with the permission of
the Ministry of Education Chief Scientist's Office. Data were
collected towards the end of the school year by the author in the
second, fourth, and sixth grade classrooms. Instructions were
given in Arabic, their mother tongue, by a native Bedouin
speaker. The order of test administration was altered in order to
counterbalance the effects of one task on another. Testing took
one full 45 minute lesson.
This study explored spelling development of the written form
of Arabic among Bedouin Arabic speaking second, fourth, and
sixth graders with specific attention to the acquisition of gut-
tural (/h/), uvular-velar (/q/ and /ʁ/), emphatic (/ḏ/, /ṯ/, and /ð
and dental (/θ/) consonants. Table 1 shows descriptive statistics
of performance across grades for real-word dictation, pseudo-
word dictation, and word recognition tasks.
In order to explore the effect of grade level on spelling, a se-
ries of repeated measure ANOVA analyses with grade as the
between subject factor and task as the within subject factor
were performed. Main effects were found for grade F (2, 341) =
20.30, p < .01, for task F (2, 341) = 127.19, p < .01, and also
for gender F (1, 341) = 11.07, p < .01. Bonferroni post hoc
analyses showed that scores in fourth grade (87.99%) and in the
sixth grade (86.09%) were significantly higher than scores in
the second grade (74.59%) for all tasks, however there was no
significant difference between the fourth and the sixth grade. In
addition, there was significant difference in scores for all tasks:
scores for word recognition task were the highest (89.80%),
following scores for real-word dictation (81.34%), and pseudo-
word dictation (77.53%). Bonferroni post hoc analyses also
showed that scores were significantly higher among female
students (85.89%) than among male students (79.89%) for all
tasks. According to the above analyses, two additional years of
exposure and practice of the written form of Arabic, between
the fourth and the sixth grades among native Arab Bedouin
speakers, do not affect their spelling performance.
The question of this study was concerned with the develop-
mental trajectory for accurate spelling of consonants (guttural:
/h/, uvular-velar: /q/ and /ʁ/, emphatic: /ḏ/, /ṯ/, and /ð
̠/, and den-
tal: /θ/) in the written form of Arabic among native Bedouin
second, fourth, and sixth graders for all tasks used in this study.
Table 2 shows descriptive statistics of mean percentage scores
for each of the consonants targeted across grades for real word
In order to examine the developmental trajectory for the tar-
geted consonants across grades, a 3-way ANOVA analysis with
consonants and task as within subject factors and grade as be-
tween subject factors was done. Main effect for consonants
Descriptive statistics of real-word, pseudo-word, and word recognition tasks: mean percentage scores by grade and task.
nd grade M(SD) 4th grade M(SD) 6th grade M(SD)
Real word dictation 71.93 (1.97) 87.12 (1.87) 84.98 (1.77)
Pseudo word dictation 70.58 (1.97) 82.61 (1.87) 79.39 (1.76)
Word recognition 81.26 (1.55) 94.26 (1.47) 89.56 (13.10)
Open Access 333
Descriptive statistics of mean percentage scores for consonants targeted across grades—real word task.
nd grade M(SD) 4th grade M(SD) 6th grade M(SD)
Guttural 87.85 (1.84) 98.79 (1.75) 94.86 (1.65)
Uvular-velar 80.05 (2.15) 94.22 (2.04) 89.73 (1.93)
Emphatic 50.78 (2.69) 69.02 (2.55) 72.29 (2.41)
Dental 72.90 (3.11) 88.51 (2.95) 82.09 (2.79)
showed significant differences between all consonantal groups
F (3, 341) = 178.25, p < .00. Bonferroni post hoc analyses
showed that the scores for guttural consonants were the highest
(93.84%), followed by uvular-velar consonants (87.99%), den-
tal consonants (81.17%), and emphatic consonants respectively
(64.03%) with significant differences between scores for each
of the consonantal group. Table 3 shows descriptive statistics
of mean percentage scores for each of the consonants targeted
across grades for pseudo-word dictation task.
Main effect for consonants showed significant differences
between all consonantal groups F (3, 341) = 259.92, p = .00.
Bonferroni post hoc analyses showed that the scores for gut-
tural consonants were the highest (90.75%), followed by uvu-
lar-velar consonants (84.66%), dental consonants (73.39%), and
emphatic consonants respectively (53.14%) with significant
differences between scores for each of the consonantal group,
similarly to the results achieved for the real word task.
In the task of word recognition, we focused on guttural (/h/),
uvular-velar (/q/, /ʁ/), and emphatic (/ḏ/, /ṯ/) consonants only,
which have a pair-phoneme which sounds similar to each of
them (Russak & Fragman, 2013). According to Russak & Frag-
man (2013), the dental consonant /θ/ does not have a pair-
phoneme. Therefore, it had been decided not to include this
phoneme in the word recognition task. Table 4 shows descrip-
tive statistics of mean percentage scores for each of the conso-
nants targeted across grades for word recognition task.
A main effect was found for sound F (2, 341) = 14.051, p
= .00. Bonferroni post hoc analyses showed that while scores
for all consonantal groups were significantly different from
each other in the second grade, with the highest scores for the
guttural phonemes, followed by uvular-velar phonemes, and em
phatic phonemes respectively, scores for all the consonantal
groups significantly improved in the fourth grade. Scores for
the emphatic phonemes significantly improved in the sixth
grade as well, reaching a similar level of accuracy to the other
This study explored spelling development of the written form
of Arabic among native Bedouin Arabic speaking second,
fourth, and sixth graders with specific attention to the acquisi-
tion of guttural (/h/), uvular-velar (/q/ and /ʁ/), emphatic (/ḏ/, /ṯ/,
̠/), and dental (/θ/) phonemes.
The results indicate significant improvement in the represen-
tation of the consonants targeted from second grade to the
fourth grade. However, there was no significant improvement
from the fourth grade to the sixth grade. This phenomenon of
spelling errors in the written form of the language had already
been discussed by Abu Rabia & Taha (2004, 2006), who found
that 50% of all errors were phonological among native 1st to 9th
Descriptive statistics of mean percentage scores for consonants targeted
across grades—pseudo-word task.
nd grade M(SD)4th grade M(SD) 6th grade M(SD)
Guttural 83.92 (2.11) 96.74 (2.00) 91.61 (1.89)
Uvular-velar76.32 (2.11) 90.81 (2.00) 86.85 (1.89)
Emphatic48.95 (2.92) 53.56 (2.77) 56.91 (2.62)
Dental 66.37 (2.94) 80.23 (2.79) 73.59 (2.63)
Descriptive statistics of mean percentage scores for consonants targeted
across grades—word recognition task.
nd grade M(SD)4th grade M(SD) 6th grade M(SD)
Guttural 84.21 (1.66) 95.40 (1.57) 93.61 (1.48)
Uvular-velar77.62 (2.03) 89.71 (1.93) 93.14 (1.82)
Emphatic80.81 (1.73) 95.89 (1.64) 94.56 (1.55)
Arabic graders. They further claimed that the phonological
stage of spelling in Arabic does not seem to end even in the end
of junior high school, unlike Latin orthographies where chil-
dren are already expected to pass from the phonological stage
to transitional and correct stages at younger age (Gentry, 1982).
The results of this study support their findings that diglossic
phonology continues to affect native Arabic speakers, as well as
Bedouin spellers of Arabic, not only in the kindergarten
(Saiegh-Haddad, 2003) but also at higher levels in the primary
school (Abu-Rabia & Taha, 2004, 2006). It is interesting
though, that various results were found in different studies re-
garding the acquisition of consonants. While Amayreh (2003)
found that all consonants were expected to be acquired by na-
tive Jordanian speakers approximately at the age of 8:6 - 9:0
(fourth grade), the results of this study show that spelling errors
of similar phonemes in Arabic or spelling errors as a result of
diglossia (Saiegh-Haddad, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007; Hamdan &
Amayreh, 2007) occur even in the end of elementary school,
while full proficiency in the standard form of Arabic may be
achieved only at later age (Al-Rabaa, 1986).
It is also interesting to note that native Bedouin speakers who
participated in this study found specific difficulty representing
emphatic phonemes in the written form of Arabic, and repre-
sented them by a similar phoneme. This phenomenon can be
explained by the complexity of Arabic phonology (Abu Rabia
& Taha, 2004, 2006) and specifically the phonological similar-
ity within the Arabic phonological inventory, for example
between /س/ and /ص/, but also between the emphatic phonemes
/ظ/ and /ض/, which both are pronounced /ظ/ in the Negev
Arabic. Similar findings were found by Abu Rabia & Siegel
(1995) among native Arabic 8th graders. Similar results regard-
ing the representation of emphatic phonemes in the written
form of Arabic in various studies among native Arabic speakers
show that the acquisition of emphatic phonemes in Arabic
seems to be more complicated than the acquisition of other
phonemes, for example guttural and uvular-velar phonemes, as
a result of the unique secondary articulation feature of pha-
ryngealization for the emphatic phonemes (Amayreh & Dyson,
1998). As pharyngealization is not as salient a phonetic feature
as place of articulation, distinguishing between phonemes based
on differences with this particular secondary phonetic feature
alone is challenging, and therefore extends over a longer period
than the acquisition of other phonemes among native Arabic
speakers learning the written form of Arabic as a second
language (Ayari, 1996; Saiegh-Haddad, 2003).
Another important result of this study relates to gender dif-
ferences. The results of this study indicate that female students
scored significantly better than male students in all tasks and in
all grades. While most of the literatures on gender differences
focus on reading, there is not much on the development of
spelling proficiency, and most of the assumptions about spell-
ing are drawn from reading research (Mohamed, Elbert, &
Landerl, 2011). Several studies indicated that female students
are expected to outperform male students in verbal and oral
skills, and in reading tests as well (Allred, 1990; Horne, 2007).
However, other studies have not found consistent differences
between females and males (Horne, 2007; Hyde & Linn, 1988;
Millar & Barber, 1981; Mohamed et al., 2011). Hyde and Linn
(1988) have suggested that the overall magnitude of gender
differences in the samples targeted for these studies was quite
small. Going back to the gender differences of our study, we
find average of six points difference between female and male
students in elementary school in favor of females. At this point
of the study, we cannot make further suggestions whether gen-
der differences in this study stem from socialization and cul-
tural influences (Feingold, 1988; Richardson, 1997), or from
cognitive biologically determined abilities (Kimura, 1999).
However, although this difference is consistent from second to
sixth grade, bridging this gap does not seem unachievable.
Further, it seems that female literary advantage lies within the
normal scale (Lynn, 1994, 1999). Yet, further research is
needed among native Bedouin speakers of junior high school
and high school graders in order to explore whether male stu-
dents compare with female students in high school grades.
Taken as a whole, reasons for lack of improvement in spell-
ing accuracy from fourth to sixth grade on the one hand should
be carefully considered. A possible explanation for stagnation
in spelling development can be attributed to the difficulty of
elementary graders with the acquisition of emphatic phonemes
which affects their general spelling proficiency. In addition,
some of these emphatic phonemes occur infrequently in the
written form of Arabic, for example /ض/ and /ظ/ (Madi, 2010).
In order to enhance spelling proficiency, language teachers
should initiate literary activities as much as possible, with
specific attention to spelling and to the ongoing difficulty with
the accurate representation of emphatic phonemes in the written
form of Arabic. Educators should also be aware to the fact that
female students achieve higher scores in spelling tasks than
their male counterparts along elementary grades. However, this
gap does not seem unbridgeable. Therefore, we recommend that
educators and language teachers make sure that this gap is
reduced over time towards the end of junior high school and
high school grades.
This study was generously supported by a grant from The
Robert H. Arnow Center for Bedouin Studies and Development,
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Beit Berl Academic
I also wish to thank Prof. Roni Henkin for her enlightening
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