Vocabulary Knowledge and Reading Comprehension in Arabic


  • Brahim Ait Hammou Ministry of National Education




While there is a proliferation of studies on the relationship between vocabulary coverage and reading comprehension in English, this area has been under-researched in Arabic reading comprehension. This study sets out to fill this gap and to investigate the long-established connection between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension. To this purpose, the study administered two tests to a total number of 154 Moroccan learners of primary, middle and secondary high schools. First, a Yes/No vocabulary test targeting the words in the reading text was administered before learners were assigned a reading test composed of a text and 15 comprehension questions. The whole reading test was primarily used as a PISA training test. The analysis of the data showed that the learners of the three groups reported high (6th graders = 55%; 10th graders = 74%) to very high (9th graders = 91%) coverage proportions. However, a significant correlation between reading comprehension and vocabulary coverage was reported only for primary school learners. Similarly, with these coverage levels, the learners of the three grade levels had only a score of less than 10 out of 15 points in reading comprehension. Also, the study showed that vocabulary coverage correlated significantly, though weakly, only with 6 reading comprehension sub-skills. The results suggest that the learners’ vocabulary size might be lower than is required for successful text comprehension. Similarly, the results suggest that even at 91% coverage levels, successful comprehension cannot be taken for granted.