Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Alexandra Gottardo

Advisor Role

Supervised through out the process of testing, writing and overall completion of this thesis


Urdu is a classic example of digraphia, a linguistic situation in which different scripts are used to write the same language (Ahmad, 2011). The analysis of orthographic practices of reading and writing Urdu in Arabic script versus in Urdu script reveals that Muslims learning to read the Quran in Western countries are not explicitly aware of the features specific to Urdu script. The present study examined awareness of script similarity; suggesting that bilinguals who read both scripts, Urdu and Arabic would have an advantage in acquiring L1 through the same scripts. Fifty Canadian bilingual children (6-10 years) were tested for language ability, cognitive and phonological processing skills in two languages: Urdu their L1 and English their L2. In contrast to English, Urdu was written in an adapted version of Arabic script. Groups were created based on whether they were above or below the standardized mean on the Urdu and/or Arabic measures. A binary logistic regression showed that there was a significant difference between readers who are good and/or poor at one or both languages, in terms of L2 decoding. The correlations between L1 and L2 phonological awareness showed that phonological awareness is not a language specific mechanism (Comeau et al., 1999). These skills predict word recognition cross-linguistically as a result of the linguistic interdependence between L1 and L2. Recent research on L2 literacy development suggests the need to examine transfer of literacy skills on a case-by-case basis for each language, based on similarities and differences between L1 and L2 scripts, particularly if the readers show low levels of literacy in one script, in this case their L1 (Genesse et al., 2006).

Convocation Year


Convocation Season