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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

Margaret Gebhard

Third Advisor

Chrystal George Mwangi

Fourth Advisor

Luis A Marentes

Subject Categories

Arabic Language and Literature | Education | Higher Education and Teaching | Language and Literacy Education | Modern Languages | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


This dissertation explores how six non-native (NN) university Arabic teachers make sense of language, culture, and identity. Specifically, it aims to understand how their experiences as Arabic language learners, preservice teachers, and classroom practitioners shape their classroom work, especially as they relate to their conceptions of teaching culture and the negotiation of their personal and professional identities.

Four questions guide this study: how NN Arabic teachers perceive culture, what their culture teaching practices are, what identities they enact, and what their contributions to the teaching of Arabic as foreign language (TAFL) field are. To address these issues, the study draws on sociocultural theory to understand language, culture, and identity, along with Wenger’s (1998) concept of communities of practice to examine NN Arabic teachers’ practices in relation to teaching language and culture and the development of their identities as teachers.

This study employs qualitative case study research methods. The data were collected via an online survey questionnaire, in-depth semi-structured interviews, and teacher documents. The procedure for data analysis draws on thematic analysis.

Analysis of the data shows that most of the participants desire to provide better learning experiences to their students than they have had, and that cultural competence is peripheral to linguistic competence in the Arabic language classroom. Additionally, they enjoy collegial connections with their students, other faculty, and administrators. However, while some of the teachers show self-confidence, others struggle with anxiety, intimidation, and inadequacy. Furthermore, most teachers acknowledge their contributions to Arabic pedagogy despite their recognition of their limited linguistic and cultural knowledge. However, some of the teachers struggle with the native speaker ideology. Their struggle results in feeling outside the inner circle and, therefore, as inadequate teachers. Nevertheless, some participants argue that their limited linguistic and cultural knowledge can be transformed into opportunities for their professional training.

Implications point to the need for efforts to promote teacher preparation programs that meet the specific needs of NN Arabic teachers. Failure to learn a dialect alongside Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and insufficient teacher training are found to account for the anxieties and insecurities of NN Arabic teachers. Therefore, programs focusing on second language pedagogy and a deeper understanding of teacher identity development are needed. The end goal is to build Arabic education programs that foster empowering learners and teachers to enable them to overcome their challenges and become successful Arabic learners and teachers.


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