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References (Annotated Bibliography)

Updated October 2016

Albirini, A. (2013). Toward understanding the variability in the language proficiencies of Arabic heritage speakers. International Journal of Bilingualism, 18(6), pp. 730-765.

  • Language use is closely related to language input, but that is not a sufficient indicator of proficiency
  • Socio-affective factors are indirectly linked to proficiency, but language attitudes and ethnic identity are positively correlated with language input

Albirini, A. (2014). The role of the colloquial varieties in the acquisition of the standard variety: The case of Arabic heritage speakers. Foreign Language Annals, 47(3), 447-463.

  • Problem is that there are limited opportunities for heritage speakers to use colloquial in daily life in the US
  • Questions in the research related to how colloquial speakers acquire MSA, whether it has a positive or negative role in that acquisition
  • Cumulative enhancement model: all prior language have a positive or neutral impact on L3 language acquisition
  • Elementary heritage learners had an advantage over elementary L2 learners even in areas with no overlap, yet this advantage did not continue into later, more advanced stages of language learning

Albirini, A. Benmamoun, E. and Saadah, E. (2011). Grammatical Features of Egyptian and Palestinian Arabic Heritage Speakers Oral Production. Studies in Second Language Aquisition, 33, 273-303.

  • Where are the gaps in the heritage colloquial knowledge?
  • Heritage speakers do not fit into native–L2 dichotomy
  • Lexical retrieved and inflectional morphology highly susceptible to attrition or loss in bilingual environments
  • Syntactic phenomena, like noun drop through syntactic licensing, vulnerable to loss or attrition
  • Use code-switching to make up for linguistic gaps
  • Heritage Arabic learners defined as “at least one parent who speaks Arabic at home”
  • Agreement morphology (gender and # agreement) highly susceptible to attrition
  • Gaps in knowledge of #s
  • Problem with tense and agreement morphology
  • Speech of heritage Arabic speakers in US almost devoid of diglossic features with MSA, therefore standard Arabic is a true second language

Albirini, A., & Chakrani, B. (2017). Switching codes and registers: An analysis of heritage Arabic speakers’ sociolinguistic competence. International Journal of Bilingualism, 21(3), 317-339.

  • Codeswitching (CS) between Colloquial Arabic (CA) and Standard Arabic (SA)—takes diglossic model, stating CA and SA exist with differential social functions
  • “Heritage speakers gradually develop native competencies in the dominant language, but do not usually have full command of the heritage language, due to limited input and opportunities for use” (2).
  • “The social context in which heritage speakers live limits not only their access to the heritage language, but also their ability to observe its use in a socially and pragmatically appropriate manner. This diminishes their ability to use the heritage language according to the rules of social and pragmatic appropriateness” (2).
  • First, heritage speakers frequently alternate between CA, SA, and English. This pattern almost disappears in the discourse of monolingual Arabic speakers, because SA is rarely used in everyday speech alongside CA and English/French (Albirini, 2015). More importantly, since several existing studies focused mainly on the structural aspect of CS (Albirini, 2014a; Albirini et al., 2011; Benmamoun et al., 2013), we still do not know the motivations for this type of codeswitching…A second important aspect of CS by heritage Arabic speakers is that, according to the existing literature, it does not serve clear functional purposes for heritage speakers; it is only a “survival” strategy that is used to fill gaps in their heritage language” (4).
  • “In conclusion, although the speakers are very effective in conveying their messages, a closer look at the structure of their narratives reveals the different strategies that they use to sustain their narratives in Arabic. These strategies do not necessarily reduce the effectiveness of their narratives, but point to possible gaps in their sociolinguistic competence in Arabic. What is striking is that heritage speakers are very adept in mobilizing English in their discourse, whereas they are less skillful in their use of Arabic, particularly SA. English is the dominant language for them, since all of them identified it as the language of everyday speech, whereas they are rarely exposed to SA in context. Heritage speakers’ unique use of CS may be due to the absence of a diglossic context and a well-defined Arab speech community through which they can obtain opportunities for learning language use in different contexts. In English-based narratives, there is less recourse to CS, except as filler phrases or for words and expressions that have cultural relevance in Arabic. In these narratives, Arabic heritage speakers exhibit full register control and are able to shift their English variety to match the formal or informal nature of the original event of the narratives” (17).

Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. The Modern Language Journal, 70(2), 125-132.

  • Provides an instrument to measure classroom anxiety

Ibrahim, Z., & Allam, J. (2006). Arabic learners and heritage students redefined: Present and future. Handbook for Arabic language teaching professionals in the 21st century, 437-446.

  • No single type of heritage students exists: there are several types
  • What is a heritage student? Kagan, Valdes, and Fishman have all tried to define this type of learner. These definitions include students who are raised in homes where languages other than the dominant society’s language is spoken, students who speak and/or understand to varying degrees, students with some degree of bilingualism, and students who have some personal and familial connection with the heritage language.
  • Including Muslims from non-Arabic speaking countries in this definition. They therefore initially differentiate into two groups of Arabic heritage learners: 1) those who can speak and understand the language orally, and 2) those who originate from non-Arabic speaking countries but have been exposed to the variety of Arabic from the Qur’an (Arabic for religious purposes).
  • 4 types of Arabic heritage learners: 1) student with two parents of Arabic origin, who speak/spoke colloquial Arabic at home, 2) students with one parent from an Arabic-speaking country, who did not speak Arabic at home, 3) Muslims from countries in which Arabic is not a spoken language, and are exposed to the classical variety of Arabic through the Qur’an and 4) Arabs who have lived in Arabic speaking counties but who attended schools in a language other than MSA (this category may be particular to where the authors conducted the study, that is, at the American University of Cairo)
  • desirability to produce materials especially for heritage learners that draw on authentic texts

Kang, H. S., & Kim, I. S. (2012). Perceived and actual competence and ethnic identity in heritage language learning: A case of Korean-American college students. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15(3), 279-294.

  • correlation found between strong sense of ethnic Korean identity and stronger linguistic competence.

Lee, J. F., & VanPatten, B. (1995). Making Communicative Language Teaching Happen. Volume 1: Directions for Language Learning and Teaching. Blacklick, OH: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Communicative Language Learning

  • communicative language ability–having to use language as acquired through input
  • input plus interaction is optimal context for acquisition
  • the “how” of acquisition, 1) input, 2) system change, 3) output
  • communicative does not mean only vocabulary and grammar
  • problem with instructional style when teacher carries all the burden–Atlas like

On language acquisition

  • empirical evidence that learners possess “internal strategies” for organizing language that do not obey outside influences
  • processing theory–mechanism exists to put elements together in real-time, not knowledge
  • implicit linguistic system (no meta-linguistic awareness or explicit knowledge of rules): this should be the starting point of development
  • information exchange task/information-based task use language to get information
  • processing goal–performance of concrete task
  • sociolinguistic competency cannot be developed without native speaker interlocutors
  • acquisition orders: research has shown that all languages are acquired in a specific order
  • different functions of language: psycho-social and informational-cognitive


  • “input hypothesis”(Krashen)–comprehensive input causes acquisition–input as meaning bearing some communicative intent
  • listening different from comprehensive input (ability of acquire grammar/vocabulary from input)
  • comprehensibility is first and most important characteristic of input
  • all acquisition starts with input–all classes should start with that
  • fundamental role of input meant to convey a message–language embedded in communicative exchange
  • input-output cycling approach
  • intake instead of input–language learner actually attends to and it gets processed

Grammar Instruction

  • some grammar helpful to speed acquisition–not explanation–explicit grammar instruction does not augment ‘natural’ stages of learning/development
  • topicalized or contextualized grammar does not equal communicative or proficiency orientation


  • multilayered communicative event
  • classroom cannot duplicate the multiple cultural contexts in which native speakers learn
  • what learners do with information is the purpose of class
  • adopt information exchange task in lesson objectives
  • homework should be extension of class–also communicative
  • need to ‘signal’ that goal has been reached
  • more communication occurs during paired work than in teacher-fronted activities–increased opportunities for self-expression for learners


  • 4 criteria for testing: 1) economy, 2) relevance, 3) acceptability, 4) comparability
  • OPI–content, function, accuracy

Mango, O. (2011). Arabic Heritage Language Schools in the United States. Heritage Briefs Collection, Center of Applied Linguistics, July 2011.

  • Today most heritage Arabic programs in US teach MSA and are not connected to religious contexts
  • Efforts to teach Arabic were revived after 1967, as a third wave of Arab migrants began arriving in US, who brought notions inspired by pan-Arabism and post-colonial nationalism
  • More than 94% of Arab Americans living in the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, Detroit, New York/New Jersey, Chicago, and Washington D.C.
  • Problem of how to address diglossia/mutliglossia in the classroom persists

Martinez, G. (2003). Classroom based dialect awareness in heritage language instruction: A critical applied linguistic approach. Heritage Language Journal, 1(1), 1-14.

  • Dialect awareness in Spanish heritage language teaching should be the first thing taught instead of the last
  • Classroom-based dialect awareness (CBDA)
  • “How do learners know when they are using the standard and when they are using the vernacular? We might say that the difference lies in the fact that the vernacular dialect presents stigmatized features while the prestige variety does not, and thus our pedagogical task is to help the learner develop an “internal monitor” to assist in avoiding the stigmatized features under certain social conditions. One reason for developing a well-defined methodology of CBDA is to assist students in developing this monitor. A more pressing motivation, however, remains to be uncovered. My preoccupation at this point is that in teaching the standard dialect we tend to skew our explanations towards purely linguistic issues when, in fact, the entire notion of standard and vernacular dialects is really much more of a social issue.” (p. 3).
  • Some examples of CGDA activities from the existing Spanish HL textbooks
  • For Wolfram (1999), sets of themes in dialect awareness. 1) dialects are natural, 2) dialects are regular and 3) variation occurs on different levels
    • “the first theme, dialects are natural, might be elaborated by showing in some way the inherently variable nature of language itself. The second theme, dialects are regular, might be elaborated by working with speech samples from a specific dialect in order to determine the regular patterns of variation. The third theme, variation occurs on different levels, might focus on the differences between two dialects, for example, Southern American English and Bostonian English. Students would see that the dialects are different not only with respect to “accent” but also with respect to words and sentence structures” (p. 6).
    • Martinez doubts this approach: it may give the students a scientific ability to analyze variation, but not the central goals of dialect awareness programs (“tackling indexical social values ascribed to different varieties of language”)
  • “a robust model of CBDA must engage not only questions of code but also questions of structure, and it must highlight the relationship between language, power, and social groups” (p. 6)
  • Martinez adds three other themes to Wolgram’s original conceptualization: 1) functions of dialect, 2) distribution of dialects, 3) evaluation of dialect
  • “Heritage language students arrive at the university with deep-seated emotional issues about their heritage language. They have been taught, and in many cases have internalized, a feeling of inferiority about their heritage language. Throughout their schooling experience of some twelve or thirteen years, they have been programmed with what Haugen refers to as “linguistic self hate” (1956). This phenomenon translates into a heightened sense of linguistic insecurity and inhibition that directly interferes with the language development process. In light of these social facts, I see no cogent reason for postponing a discussion of the social functions of dialects until the fourth year of undergraduate education” (p. 7).
  • Have students draw from home as a type of laboratory/ethnographic field
  • Value added HL: teaching students various aspects of register differences and helping them draw upon different varieties as they seem fit and to understand the implications of their choices
  • Activity to explore language and power: have students come up with nicknames for each other, then ask them to nickname the teacher. It will prove much more difficult for the teacher. This shows how language is not equal across differential power

Scalera, Diana. “I Speak Arabic.” https://vimeo.com/111338925

  • Documentary film on Arabic speakers in the United States, challenges and opportunities that heritage students bring to the classroom
  • Recognize colloquial difference in assessment
  • Heritage learners become experts at becoming invisible. At home, they often hide from their parents the ways they think the dominant American cultures are more important than their home culture. At school, they often do everything in their power to hide their ethnic, linguistic and immigrant origins from their peers.

Tallon, M. (2009). Foreign language anxiety and heritage students of Spanish: A quantitative study. Foreign Language Annals, 42(1), 112-137.

  • Abstract (from the article): The purpose of this study was to investigate if heritage students of Spanish experience foreign language anxiety and, if so, what levels of anxiety they experience. The data were collected using the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS). A total of 413 students (209 heritage students and 204 nonheritage students) participated in this study. In general, the mean anxiety scores for the heritage students were lower than the mean anxiety scores for the nonheritage students, although there were a few instances when the heritage students actually had higher anxiety scores. In addition, the heritage students in this study reported lower anxiety scores than other college-level students from previous studies reported in the literature that also used the FLCAS.

Wong, K. F., & Xiao, Y. (2010). Diversity and difference: Identity issues of Chinese heritage language learners from dialect backgrounds. Heritage Language Journal, 7(2), 153-187.

  • Tendency to classify all Mandarin and dialect speakers as “heritage learners” although the languages are often mutually unintelligible; even whether they belong to the same “language family” is up for debate
  • Develops concepts of ‘imagined community’, ‘linguistic hegemony’ and ‘language investment’

Other key articles:

Abu-Rabia, Salim, and Linda S. Siegel. “Reading, syntactic, orthographic, and working memory skills of bilingual Arabic-English speaking Canadian children.” Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 31.6 (2002): 661-678.

Chakrani, Brahim. “Arabic interdialectal encounters: Investigating the influence of attitudes on language accommodation.” Language & Communication 41 (2015): 17-27.

Cabo, D. P. Y., & Rothman, J. (2012). The (Il) logical problem of heritage speaker bilingualism and incomplete acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 33(4), 450-455. doi: 10.1093/applin/ams037

Dąbrowska, E. (2012). Different speakers, different grammars: Individual differences in native language attainment. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 2(3), 219-253. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/lab.2.3.01dab

Haeri, N. (2000). Form and ideology: Arabic sociolinguistics and beyond. Annual Review of Anthropology, 61-87. Retrieved at http://www.jstor.org/stable/223415

Montrul, S. (2013). How “native” are heritage speakers. Heritage Language Journal, 10(2), 15-39.

Otheguy, R. (2013) The linguistic competence of second-generation bilinguals: A critique of ‘incomplete acquisition’. Keynote Address, Linguistic Symposium on the Romance Languages. New York City. Retrieved at https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=The+linguistic+competence+of+second-generation+bilinguals%3A+A+critique+of+‘incomplete+acquisition’&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C33

Otheguy, R., García, O., & Reid, W. (2015). Clarifying translanguaging and deconstructing named languages: A perspective from linguistics. Applied Linguistics Review, 6(3), 281-307. doi: 10.1515/applirev-2015-0014

Schachter, J. (1990). On the issue of completeness in second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 6(2), 93-124. Retrieved at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/026765839000600201

Sehlaoui, Abdelilah Salim. “Language learning, heritage, and literacy in the USA: The case of Arabic.” Language, Culture and Curriculum 21.3 (2008): 280-291.

Suleiman, Yasir. Arabic, self and identity: A study in conflict and displacement. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Valdés, G. (2005). Bilingualism, heritage language learners, and SLA research: Opportunities lost or seized?. The Modern Language Journal, 89(3), 410-426.

Wahba, K. M. (2006) Arabic Language Use and the Educated Language User. In K. M. Wahba, Z. A. Taha, and L. England (eds.) Handbook for Arabic language teaching professionals in the 21st century (pp. 139-155). New York: Routledge.

Younes, M. (2006) Integrating the Colloquial with FusHa in the Arabic-as-a-Foreign-Language Classroom. In K. M. Wahba, Z. A. Taha, and L. England (eds.) Handbook for Arabic Language Teaching Professionals in the 21st Century (pp. 157-166). New York: Routledge.