Qatar’s educational reform has been in progress for over ten years, and its many changes have affected reading programs and thus students’ reading achievement. One important change was the language of instruction in mathematics and science; students who were previously taught science in Arabic had to switch to English as the new language of instruction. Two years ago, another decision was taken by the Supreme Education Council to change the language of instruction from English back to Arabic for mathematics and science. The change in the language of instruction made scientific reading in both languages more challenging and less appealing for students. Students within Qatar’s public system are finding it difficult to read, and even those who do read are usually reading by sounding out words but not necessarily understanding the overall meaning of the passage they are reading. It is important to look at how students are being taught reading since the way they are taught has an important role in how students read. This empirical study used surveys, questionnaires, read-aloud protocols and classroom observations to assess students’ reading abilities and comprehension and the teachers’ use of reading strategies within the classroom. This three-year study collected data from 12 preparatory independent schools (6 boys and 6 girls) to identify whether or not students do in fact have a problem with reading. To measure the effect that the reform had on students’ reading, we sampled schools from across cohorts since earlier cohort i.e. cohort 1 to 4 are all generations that had been using English as the language of instruction for a longer time than later cohorts (i.e., cohorts six and seven). We also choose to use two scientific articles related to a topic in the science curriculum, in both Arabic and English in order to look at whether students’ reading abilities varied between reading in Arabic and/or English. To explore the instructional aspect carried out inside the classroom, we surveyed teachers on their teaching of reading practices and observed lessons later on for verification. The findings led to important conclusions about how reading is taught and learned in Qatar’s preparatory schools.


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  • Received: 30 April 2015
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