An assessment norm of communicative Arabic proficiency


  • Rahaf Alabar Goldsmiths, University of London


Proficiency, native speaker, norm, assessment, multi-competence, intercultural competence


The concept of the ‘native speaker’ (NS) remains a constant interest in the field of language pedagogy due to the need the field has for models, goals and norms (Davies, 2003: 1). On the other hand, some other researchers such as Byram (1997) in his model of intercultural competence ICC and Cook (2012) in his model of multi-competence argued against the NS as a norm of assessment and deemed it an idealistic, unrealistic goal. In the context of Arabic language given its complex sociolinguistic situation, it is essential to identify the role of NS for assessing the non-native learner’s level of proficiency. This paper addresses the questions of who is the NS of Arabic that could be taken as a norm? Or should that be the case at all? 

Author Biography

Rahaf Alabar, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr Rahaf Alabar graduated from Damascus University with a BA in Arabic language and literature and a diploma in Arabic linguistics. She also obtained an MA in TESOL (Teaching English To Speakers of Other Languages) from the University of St Mark and St John, and a PhD in language education from Goldsmiths, University of London.  

Her PhD research focused on Arabic language proficiency assessment in the light of the sociolinguistic situation of Arabic language. She is currently interested in language teacher training from a sociocultural perspective; understanding how SCT aspects can be incorporated in TAFL and TASOL programmes. 

She has been working at the University of Cambridge as an assessment consultant, and had previously worked as a teaching assistant and a teacher of Arabic as a foreign language at Damascus University. 


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How to Cite

Alabar, R. (2019). An assessment norm of communicative Arabic proficiency. Arab Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4(2), 87–106. Retrieved from