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falash mura church 224 88.(Photo by: Uriel Heilman)
Ethiopian kids struggle to learn Hebrew
Haviv Rettig Gur
04/18/2007
Ethiopian children are rarely exposed to Hebrew at home, and only one-third of their parents can read or write the language.
The gap in reading comprehension and vocabulary between the average schoolchild and their Ethiopian Israeli classmate has grown in recent years, according to a University of Haifa study conducted for the Education Ministry that was published Wednesday. Ethiopian children are rarely exposed to Hebrew at home, and only one-third of their parents can read or write the language, researchers found. At the same time, the children do not learn to read or write their parents' language - usually Amharic - only to speak it. The study, conducted by Dr. Michal Shany of the university's Learning Disabilities Department, tested 326 first- through sixth-graders in several schools. About half were from the Ethiopian community. Studies showing that the gap is closing have focused on less-sophisticated processes such as word comprehension or reading precision, according to Shany, who has published on literacy among Ethiopian children in the past . In more complex processes such as reading comprehension and vocabulary, abilities crucial for later academic excellence, Ethiopians lag far behind other Israelis, Shany said.
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