Arabic Learner Perceptions of Translanguaging

Destabilizing Language Hierarchies in Content-Based Instruction



translanguaging, content-based instruction, diglossia, learner perception


The paper discusses the students’ perceptions of pedagogical translanguaging in an Arabic literature course in a higher education foreign language program. In focused interviews with the students (heritage and nonheritage), we explore their learning experience in this course as compared to previous ones. Their perceptions of the transformative nature of translanguaging were examined. Four main thematic patterns emerged in ten excerpts that were carefully analyzed: bridging the division between lower and upper-level courses; bridging the division between students’ proficiency levels; creating an inclusive space that embraces student full linguistic repertoires; and fostering criticality and creativity in dialogic construction of meaning in the language classroom. It is argued that student voices give legitimacy to pedagogical translanguaging. This legitimacy does not threaten the status of standard varieties, but rather motivate a wider space for Arabic dialects, particularly with the growing number of heritage speakers in content-based courses in Arabic programs.     

Author Biographies

Ebtissam Oraby, George Washington University

Dr. Ebtissam Oraby is a Teaching Assistant Professor at George Washington University. She is a scholar of curriculum and pedagogy specializing in multilingual education, and Arab and Muslim cultures. Her research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy, language, religion, and education. 

Mahmoud Azaz, University of Arizona

Mahmoud Azaz is Associate Professor of Arabic Language, Linguistics & Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and Teaching and Distinguished Fellow at the University of Arizona. He holds a Ph.D. with Distinction, and his research focuses on Arabic SLA from linguistic and sociocultural perspectives.