Pedagogical implications to language variation

By Dalal Aboel Seoud
Submitted to Session P4468 (Variation and Change in Modern Written Arabic, 2016 Annual Meeting
All Middle East;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Language variation in Arabic is a prevailing phenomenon that is constantly moving back and forth on a continuum, asserting what Labov indicates in that language is as dynamic as a society. He adds that such continuous movement is a result of the interaction between society and its constituents (Guy, Feagin & Schiffirin &Baugh 96). Although there are no clear patterns of such language variation, Shulman (87) indicates that it “can act as a filter in the scientific study of language” that can raise students’ awareness to new meanings and ideas (Farrell, 2008). Nevertheless, AFL students are not explicitly exposed to language variation as should be. A reason for that might be because it is not reflected in the curriculum content and/or pedagogy for teaching Arabic as a foreign language. Consequently, this widens the gap between what they learn and the real world language situation.
The question is how can language variety, in its differing proficiency levels, be taught?
Taking into consideration the content-based approach reflected in genre-based teaching (Stoller and Grabe 97) that emerged as a response to the process approach to teaching writing, this paper attempts to highlight this dilemma and explore means to address it in teaching Arabic writing, taking into consideration its varying morpho-syntactic and lexical levels. Engaging in tasks involving thematically related genres will broaden students’ cultural literacies (Swaffer & Arens 2005). Therefore, this paper aims at guiding both pre-service teachers and students of Arabic as a foreign language to be competent when dealing with varying registers and styles taking place in teaching and learning contexts. Pedagogical implications using higher order skills to analyze, evaluate and create different genres showing how to teach language variation in the Arabic writing curricula are implemented through Harvey Daniels (2002) "literature circles" strategies. Such strategies are small student-led discussions, where every student is assigned a specific role to play after reading a literary piece of work. This technique is a reflection of the social theory of interaction. According to Davis (2010), social learning is the means by which students become better thinkers as they become aware of different viewpoints they could not have developed had they not collaborated with others.