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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Laura Valdiviezo

Second Advisor

Denise Ives

Third Advisor

Maria Jose Botelho

Fourth Advisor

Leda Cooks

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Educational Methods | Higher Education | Language and Literacy Education


A gap in the critical cultural research paradigm in foreign language teaching (FLT) and teaching Arabic as a foreign language (TAFL) at the college level in the U.S. context subsists. FLT and TAFL have been characterized by the prevalence of the communicative and proficiency-based pedagogies and their concomitant research frameworks. This prevalence is tied to the growing neoliberal and terror rhetoric in recent years (Kramsch, 2005; Bernstein et al., 2015). In the face of the latter, a need for critical cultural frameworks of teaching and research became plausible to deconstruct the different clichés and biases in the context of Arabic teaching, and namely in this study, the stereotyping techniques that Arabs and Muslims have been experiencing since the 9/11 terrorist attacks (Morey & Yaqin, 2011; Kramsch, 2005). The ultimate goal is to provide insights on culturally inclusive pedagogies in the Arabic and foreign language classrooms. I corresponded to the gap mentioned above through a critical deconstruction of the development of cultural representations across a variety of classroom discourses in an advanced college-level Arabic course. In so doing, I benefited from the critical ethnographic orientation for data collection, (Carspecken, 1996; Madison, 2012; Emerson, Fretz & Shaw, 2011), critical discourse analysis (CDA) (Fairclough, 2003, 2008), and thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) for data analysis. Through CDA (Fairclough, 2008), I analyzed two readings and two subsequent in-class debate activities to critically disclose the types of cultural representations constructed in them vis-à-vis their ideological underpinnings as well as the macro- and micro-contextual elements that construe them. Via thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006), I analyzed the participants’ interviews to pin down the factors that informed or hindered their cultural engagements with the course’s materials Conclusions are concerned with six points: 1- Texts are ideological artifacts, and they potentially play a role in the augmentation of cultural stereotypes, 2- instructional genres may contribute to the development of cultural clichés, 3- students’ perceptions of Arab cultures may entail cultural decontextualization and labeling, 4- semantics and syntax might represent incentives as well as barriers for cultural growth, 5- goals for Arabic learning may range from economic to social incentives, and 6- the immersion and shared cultural experiences are potential means for cultural connections. Findings suggest recommendations for teaching and research that can enhance inclusive cultural engagements to challenge the cultural labeling dynamics and the neoliberal drive in the foreign language classroom context. The latter can be achieved via reading texts against the grain, deconstruction of the instructional genre, drawing on the immersion and personal experiences as means for all-encompassing cultural engagements, emphasizing non-neoliberal language learning goals, and reconceptualizing the learning of semantics and syntax in foreign language teaching.