What to Teach
Bilingual Arabic Teachers' Beliefs and Stances about Pedagogical Translanguaging and Transdialecting
Keywords:pedagogical translanguaging, transdialecting, Arabic dialects, teaching Arabic as a heritage language
This translingual qualitative study draws on semi-structured translingual and transdialect interviews conducted with seven bi/multilingual Arabic teachers in the American Midwest. This paper examines Arabic bilingual teachers’ beliefs on translanguaging (Arabic-English) and transdialecting (multi-dialects and Fusha) when teaching Arabic to Arabic learners. The data analysis focused on the teachers’ responses to the question, “How do you approach students’ languages and multi-dialects in your classroom?” The data analysis showed that most teachers used pedagogical translanguaging with their students. However, there is a continuum of variation in transdialecting: some teachers viewed teaching dialects side-by-side to Fusha as a way to demonstrate the richness of the language; others viewed it as a support to Fusha for literacy purposes, specifically writing. Other teachers viewed it as a lingua franca because students in non-Arabic speaking countries do not have the multi-dialectal exposure that students in Arabic-speaking countries experience, and Fusha was a choice for students. Others have considered teaching dialect-specified classes but cited the difficulties posed by low student enrollment numbers in such courses. Nevertheless, most teachers indicated Fusha and translanguaging as their preferred personal mode of instruction. In addition, teachers frequently encouraged students to use their dialects for reading comprehension, classroom communication, learning vocabulary, and grammar. The implications of this study broaden discussions about the importance of transdialecting and translanguaging pedagogies in teaching Arabic in multilingual settings.
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