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The process of learning Arabic represents quite a challenge for English-speaking students due to structural and vocabulary-related differences between the languages. However, the task of learning Arabic can be simplified by introducing what Palmer refers to as diglossia into the curriculum. Namely, apart from learning the formal Arabic language, students should also be exposed to the experience of the spoken Arabic language, thus, integrating into the community. As a result, the process of learning will occur at a much faster pace, as the research results indicate.
The article under analysis strives to convey an important idea of learning the language by communicating it and observing how it is used in a community of native speakers, while also embracing the academic perspective on it, hence the notion of diglossia. The paper contains quite a number of solid arguments, which reinforce the general positive effect that the article leaves. Palmer (2008) manages to establish a historical context that would serve a vital role in the further assessment of the significance of diglossia for effective learning. The combination of observations made in the context of the present-day learning setting and the overall development of Arabic language learning in the U.S. setting produces a positive effect on the analysis. Therefore, the author should be credited for a thorough and all-encompassing literature review.
The methodology developed by the author represents another advantage of the paper.
Arguably, the methods used in the study also incorporate a minor weakness defined by the limitations of the selected research method. Namely, the development of a questionnaire and, specifically, the integration of the 6-point scale as the main measurement instrument could have contributed to a minor inaccuracy. First and most obvious, the use of a scale on which the participants would place themselves implies the presence of certain subjectivity in the answers (Palmer, 2008). Second, the inclusion of the six-point scale of the Likert type makes it difficult to transform the qualitative data, such as the extent of agreement with a statement, into the quantitative one.
In addition, the outcomes of the study allow improving the current approach toward teaching Arabic, tailoring it to students’ needs, which is vital for the successful development of language skills. Specifically, the results of the study point to the fact that the vast majority of learners agree on the necessity of including spoken Arabic into the curriculum. Although there are significant discrepancies in students’ opinions concerning whether spoken Arabic should replace the standard one completely in the curriculum or whether the two should be taught in tandem, the general gist of what students presently need is evident (Palmer, 2008). Therefore, the study provides an impetus for a substantial improvement in the learning process on the institutional level, which is a crucial advantage of the study.
The significance of the research is rather high since it provides the grounds for the further update of the present framework for Arabic language learning in the U.S. If applied to the present-day academic context, the outcomes of the study will inform the teaching strategies and the pace at which students will acquire appropriate skills. Thus, the level of mastering the Arabic language is also expected to improve. Finally, with the focus on the practical application of language skills, one could expect the presence of an intuitive understanding of the Arabic language and its use in students. Therefore, the study can be considered a vital tool in addressing the present Arabic language learning challenges.
Palmer, J. (2008). Arabic diglossia: Student perceptions of spoken Arabic after living in the Arabic-speaking world. Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, 15, 81-95.