A linguacultural approach to teaching Arabic as a foreign language

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2017-01-13

Authors

Stokes, Corinne Alden

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Abstract

This dissertation examines theoretical and practical work on culture in fields related to foreign language education (FLE) and Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL) in order to rethink the cultural component of a proficiency-based Arabic classroom and propose a linguacultural approach for the first-year of study. The dissertation has arisen from a decade of observing the field of TAFL from the multiple perspectives of student, teaching assistant, and teacher of Arabic, and is inspired by the contemporary needs of Arabic students in U.S. universities. The principal goals of the dissertation are: 1) to present a critical perspective on the current role of culture in TAFL theory, teaching practice, and textbook design; 2) to propose a linguacultural approach to teaching Arabic that is informed by conceptual and intercultural perspectives in FLE; and 3) to demonstrate the approach by way of suggested methods, outcomes, and assessments designed for novice to intermediate levels of proficiency. The first objective is accomplished in Chapters II and III by a review of scholarship on culture in FLE and a discussion of culture in TAFL as it relates to U.S. universities and the sociolinguistic situation in Arabic. This is followed by a review of Arabic textbooks from a cultural perspective. The second objective is fulfilled by Chapter IV, in which I argue for a linguacultural approach to Arabic language and culture pedagogy, with its central tenet the incorporation of rich and varied Arabic-language input that reflects sociolinguistic realities. In this chapter I develop the relationship between integrated Arabic teaching, multiliteracies, cultural conceptualizations, and interculturality, providing examples of methods and material development. Finally, in Chapter V, I follow the principles of the approach to suggest proficiency-based outcomes and assessment methods in which cultural goals are integrated in all skill areas.

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