Overcoming reading-related learning difficulties using ICT: A Special Focus on Reading Arabic Texts

By Mohamed Aymane Sbai, Maha El Biadi

Abstract


The main concern of the present paper is to give a general overview of the different learning impediments that affect the development of reading and the way these can hinder the learning process of young learners. It puts a special focus on reading difficulties, as these are liable to constitute a major obstacle preventing pupils from making the most of their learning experience. The aim is to shed light on the various studies done on learning difficulties (henceforth LDs) in the Arab world, with a special reference to Arabic in order to see how ICT can be implemented to help young learners develop more efficiently their reading skills. Although Researchers in the field of language teaching and learning have always concerned themselves with finding answers to issues related to students’ learning strategies and styles, they, however, have not given learning difficulties the attention they deserve, especially in countries such as Morocco, even if these are commonplace among pupils. They are often not given due importance and the students affected by them are generally dismissed as being “slow learners” who do not concentrate in class and/or “slothful and careless students” who hold negative attitudes towards the language. Moreover, even if teachers take heed of these problems, they rarely, if ever, have ready access to consultation, guidance or referral advice to deal with such cases. In fact, it would be wrong-headed to think that the responsibility of spotting such problems falls entirely on their shoulder; Society as whole is not familiar in the least with them.

The importance of reviewing the literature on this particular subject lies in highlighting the different aspects, which have been investigated in this area, and looking for new ways to tackle learning difficulties, especially those related to reading Arabic texts. The paper will therefore start by providing some definitions of reading, its sub-skills and its models. It will after that talk about the different types of learning disabilities and difficulties that leaners generally suffer from. It will then discuss some special characteristics of Arabic in an attempt to explain the problems most learners face when learning it and the way these can constitute a hindrance preventing some of them from reaching their full potential. In addition, it will talk about studies that looked at the use of ICT to help learners especially with their reading skills. All this is done with a view to find new ways in which ICT can be harnessed to offer new and efficient solutions to help young leaners overcome learning difficulties especially those relating to reading the Arabic language.

Keywords— Learning disabilities and difficulties, types of learning disabilities, LDs in the Arab World, ICT to cater for students with SLDs, Arabic Specificities.


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