Publication Date

Summer 2011

Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Karen Blanchard

Abstract

The principle objective of this independent inquiry is to address the research question: what are the impacts of Arabic Diglossia, if any, on the experience of learners of Arabic as a foreign language? The study attempts to answer this question through the perception of a sample group of 23 learners studying Arabic as a foreign language in World Learning Oman Center in semester of Spring 2011.

Diglossia is defined by linguists as a sociolinguistic phenomenon in which a particular language has two varieties, one of which is considered High and more standard and used in exclusive domains, while the other is considered Low and used for communicative purposes and may differ geographically. Arabic is seen to be one of the strongest examples of world languages that show this phenomenon operating in one written variety, Modern Standard Arabic, that is used all over the Arabic-speaking world, while multiple spoken dialects are used for communication in different Arab countries. This phenomenon is very relevant to learning Arabic as a foreign language. In the World Learning Oman center, the participants are first surveyed online. This is followed by three separate focus groups that involve all the participants partaking in the survey. Further investigation is done through three individual interviews with alumni of World Learning programs currently living in Oman. The inquiry methodology is semi-structured in a way that is focused but leaves room for themes to emerge to capture the perception of the learner.

It is concluded that Arabic diglossia is indeed an impactful factor in learning Arabic as a foreign language. It is especially impactful while learning Arabic in a native country. The data proves that students of Arabic in Oman are aware of Arabic diglossia and its impact on their learning. The awareness level varies according to the language level, with awareness level going higher as the student moves up in the language level. Similar correlation is found to be true with confusion with Arabic diglossia; the higher level students coped better with this reality while lower level students tended to be confused about it. Similarly, the level of interaction with the speech community increases as the learner became more confident in handling the diglossic reality. Higher level students were more comfortable with their personal goals and focuses in learning Arabic and start to appropriately use both MSA and the dialect in different settings. Most participants agree on the value of learning both MSA and spoken dialect for the learner.

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | First and Second Language Acquisition | Higher Education and Teaching | International and Intercultural Communication | Linguistics | Typological Linguistics and Linguistic Diversity