טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentBebar Remonda
SubjectDiglossia and the Understanding of Science Concepts by
Arab Junior High School Students Using Literary
and Spoken Arabic
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisors Professor Michael Moore
Professor Miriam Reiner
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

One of the difficulties in teaching sciences in the Arab sector has to do with the structure of Arabic. There are many terms in Arabic which bear more than one meaning, and this might cause confusion among students and even among some schoolteachers who have no choice but go to Internet websites of Arab countries (such as Jordan or Saudia) to search for a translation of scientific terms into Arabic. Namely, Arabic has two different dialects; one is considered to be the formal, standard or more prestigious dialect, and is used for specific fields of knowledge, while the other is considered to be low, used only for communication purposes, and is different between geographical regions.

The present study has focused on understanding the difficulties caused by multiple definitions as a result of the multiple meanings of different terms in the different linguistic forms and the inability to translate them accurately. Every language has terms with certain features which cannot be accurately translated into another language. Therefore, a learner constructs an initial idea based on the translation from his or her mother tongue and not based on the new teaching language. For instance, the word "spring" has six different words in different specific dialects in Arabic. One of the words is "Qous", meaning arch in conversational Arabic.

The research questions are as follows: (1) Is there a difference between the perceptions of science teachers for the terms learned in class in the Arabic teaching language in its different linguistic forms (the literary and the conversational?) and (2) Would students do better on tests which had been re-written in conversational Arabic than on tests which had been written in literary Arabic? The study was conducted among 192 8th-grade students studying in two schools for Arabic speakers in which the fields of science are taught according to the ministry-of-education curriculum in science and technology, and science teachers in junior high schools in the Druze sector who have studied in universities and colleges of teachers.

The research findings were based on an analysis of the students' answers on the tests in both linguistic forms, and the teachers' answers on the questionnaire of term definition. The findings of the quantitative part of the study were based on mapping each of the test questions and examining the feasibility of statistical relations, their strength and direction, between the type of the test and the linguistic form in which it was written (literary language versus conversational language) and the wording level, and the scored grade. These findings raised main themes reflecting the students' difficulties in solving the Meizav exams.

The findings, were approved and confronted with past studies in the field and led to a number of main conclusions. First, possible relations have been found between teaching language quality improvement in general and science teaching quality enhancement in particular, and an improvement of students' cognitive performances in those fields.

This study is only a small step towards a deep understanding of difficulties faced by students.