This study explored the teaching challenges and instructional practices that teachers of Arabic as a second/foreign language (ASL/AFL) use in their university-level Arabic mixed classes. Data collection procedures included an online questionnaire, class observations and teachers’ interviews. 58 respondents were surveyed, 3 teachers were interviewed, and 4 mixed classes were observed. Data analysis was carried out using descriptive and inferential statistics. Results revealed that the presence of Heritage Language Learners’ (HLLs) in an ASL/AFL classroom poses challenges for ASL/AFL Arabic teachers and entails developing certain types of instructional practices to overcome such challenges. They also revealed that strategies like including discussion of cultural topics, using collaborative learning, and individualized tasks are commonly used by ASL/AFL Arabic teachers to help cater to the needs of Heritage Language Learners in an ASL/AFL Arabic environment. Moreover, the study revealed that ASL/AFL Arabic teachers use certain types of instructional practices that are designed to reduce student anxiety and provide contextualized instruction. Teachers also prefer to design curricula tailored to suit mixed classes that differ from regular ASL/AFL curricula, and to explore HLLs’ motivations and expectations to better fulfill their needs or ensure that they are enrolled in level-appropriate classes. Furthermore, ASL/AFL Arabic teachers do not support the idea of placing heritage students and ASL/AFL learners in separate groups nor separate them in class activities. Such results, therefore, support the notion that Arabic heritage speakers in ASL/AFL Arabic classes present challenges to Arabic teachers; hence, they need certain teaching strategies in order to fulfill their needs.


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language

Graduation Date


Submission Date

June 2016

First Advisor

Al Essawi, Raghda

Committee Member 1

Gebril, Atta

Committee Member 2

Hassan, Mona K.


113 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


The completion of my thesis was made possible with the support of my Master’s committee members. Many thanks are due to Dr. Raghda El Essawi, my supervisor and academic advisor, for graciously facilitating my thesis process and assisting me in achieving one of my goals. I would like to genuinely thank her for encouragement and for devoting her expertise and keen judgment throughout the thesis process. I would like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Atta Gebril, a wonderful scholar and mentor, for everything he did to support me during my coursework till the end of the road. I am lucky to have him as a member in my committee. I am also indebted to Dr. Mona Kamel for her superior guidance. Her valuable suggestions contributed greatly to my research. I want also to thank all professors in the TAFL program for making my research study a reality. The learning experiences they provided me have assisted me in many ways to expand on my own research work and agenda. Finally, my sincere thanks are due to my family and friends.