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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Teaching of Modern Standard Arabic to Moroccan Children in Elementary Schools in the Netherlands. A study on proficiency status and input Add Dissertation
Author: Redouan Saidi Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Universiteit van Tilburg, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2001
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard
Director(s): Roeland van Hout
Guus Extra
Kees Versteegh
Jan De Ruiter

Abstract: This research has as its aim to present data on the status of Modern Standard Arabic as offered in the Arabic Language Instruction programme for Moroccan pupils in Dutch elementary schools from three perspectives: proficiency, status and input. All the three studies together are expected to provide not only insights into the level of Modern Standard Arabic proficiency Moroccan pupils achieve at the end of Dutch elementary schools, but also into the situation in which these pupils are learning the language at stake in elementary schools in the Netherlands.

From the point of view of the proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic, earlier studies have shown that the Arabic proficiency of Moroccan pupils in the Netherlands is rather low (Driessen, 1990; Van de Wetering, 1990). The results of Driessen (1990) and Van de Wetering's (1990) studies though are based on testing tasks which are limited in focus. Their studies do not display a coherent concept of language proficiency. The notion of proficiency as operationalized in their research is conceived of as a monolithic ability, which makes it hard to establish the proficiency levels of these children for certain specific skills. More elaborate diagnostic instruments such as standardized proficiency tests, used for assessing proficiency in Arabic, produced more insightful results. As a consequence of the orientation of research towards the receptive aspects of Modern Standard Arabic, the productive skills have received no attention in the research conducted so far. Also the earlier studies mentioned on Arabic proficiency make use of children selected at random, without taking into account the gross differences in exposure time to Arabic between the children selected for testing. Therefore it is difficult to get a complete picture of the effects of teaching of Modern Standard Arabic on the proficiency of Moroccan children in this language. The research conditions become more interesting through the Arabic test replication in Morocco with a reference group. Use is made of Arabic proficiency data of 20 children following Arabic education in elementary schools (group 5) in a first language environment, i.e., Morocco. These data are used as reference data, offering a perspective within which the results obtained in the Netherlands can be viewed. With reference to the sample of children in the Netherlands, a subset of children turned out to follow mosque schooling in addition to HLI in Arabic. This provides an opportunity to investigate the effect of mosque schooling on children's proficiency, of which very little is known in the literature. A portion of the present study conceitedly concerns the status of this form of Arabic instruction.

Apart from looking at Arabic proficiency, an attempt is further made to identify the circumstances under which Moroccan children in Dutch schools learn Arabic. Two relevant perspectives are incorporated: the -perceived - status of Modern Standard Arabic and the input of Modern Standard Arabic in classes of Arabic, at home and within the community at large. Concerning the status study the major aim is to bring together information about its current status as determined by the interplay of the major four actors in the provision of Arabic: Moroccan parents, their children, Arabic teachers and school directors. Regarding the input study of Modern Standard Arabic, the aim is to show what and how much Arabic language input is available for Moroccan children inside and outside the school context to support their proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic. With respect to input within classes of Arabic, a research design combining self-reported and observational data has been opted for.