The self-concept of Arabic and English speaking bilingual and monolingual pupils with specific literacy difficulties
Ahmad, Sukeina Afif
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Researchers have conducted many studies to examine the academic, social and general self-concept of pupils of differing ages and in varied settings. Yet, not very much is known about the varied facets of self-concept of bilingual pupils and the monolingual who have specific literacy difficulties (SpLD). Furthermore, the influence of learning a second language on the self-concept or the motivation to learn a second language in the Arabic- English pupils in the Middle Eastern region has also not been addressed by any researchers. So, the main focus of this study was to examine the self-concept of bilingual (Arabic-English) and monolingual pupils who have specific literacy difficulties. The motivation to learn a foreign language and its impact on the pupils' English and general self-concept was also studied. This study used a mixed methodology design using a systematic survey followed by purposive case studies. Established measures were used to examine each facet of the self-concept moving from the literacy in both English and Arabic (reading, writing and spelling) to the maths self-concept and to a more general self-concept, academic self-concept and school self-concept. Furthermore, this study also examined the non-academic self-concept such as athletic self-concept and social self-concept among a group of bilingual (Arabic-English) and monolingual (Arabic) who have SpLD. The study was conducted in Oman in a bilingual private schools and monolingual state schools which included 99 pupils. A Foreign Language Learning Orientation Scale/ intrinsic – extrinsic motivation was also designed to measure the motivation to learning English as a second language. In phase two, this study examined the consistency between the pupils’ and Arabic and English teachers’ interview reports and the pupil's questionnaire for 6 bilingual pupils who had SpLD. This study compared 4 groups (monolingual SpLD, bilingual SpLD, monolingual typical literacy level and bilingual typical literacy level). The quantitative results showed differences between the four groups in terms of the self-concept. There were no differences in terms of the self-concept between the monolingual SpLD and bilingual SpLD in any facets of the self-concept. However, there were a significantly lower Arabic handwriting self concept, Arabic spelling self-concept and general school self-concept for monolingual SpLD pupils in comparison to their peers who had typical literacy level. Also bilingual pupils with SpLD showed significantly lower English reading self-concept, English spelling self-concept, and the general school self-concept than for the bilingual typical literacy pupils. The last comparison showed that there were significantly lower Arabic reading, Arabic handwriting, and Arabic spelling self-concept for the monolingual typical literacy levels in comparison to their bilingual typical literacy peers. In terms of intrinsic extrinsic motivation there were no significant differences shown between the SpLD bilingual and the bilingual typical literacy levels groups. According to the case study analysis there was a general inconsistency between the pupils’ interview and their questionnaire reports for their general, English and Arabic self-concept and the intrinsic and the extrinsic motivation for learning a foreign language. In many cases the pupils were negative about their literacy self-concept according to the questionnaire, but they perceived themselves more positively in the interview. In general, there was a tendency for both quantitative and qualitative results to indicate positive social self-concept for the bilingual and monolingual pupils who had SpLD and the 6 case studies. It was concluded that as research into self-concept of the bilingual (Arabic- English) is not well developed, more research is need in this area, especially in the Middle East using the same methods from this study. It is concluded that it is important for language assessors to consider assessing the literacy difficulties in two languages when the pupils are bilingual.