Multidialectal Use of L2 Arabic: A Study of Advanced Learners’ Profiles
Developing sociolinguistic competence in Arabic can be a complex process given how Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Colloquial Arabic (CA) are used within a changing sociolinguistic environment in Arabic-speaking communities. Findings from empirical research suggest that second language (L2) Arabic learners who receive multidialectal training in MSA and CA can gain awareness of context-related sociolinguistic expectations. However, research is yet to examine the association between L2 Arabic learners’ profiles, the type of first-year Arabic instruction, and their metasociolinguistic awareness and code preferences as shown in their metasociolinguistic reflections. It also needs to examine how such association manifests itself in learners’ oral and written productions. The current study addresses these questions. Six advanced students receiving multidialectal training participated in the study. The data comprised a language learning history survey, reflections on sociolinguistic variation, and oral and written productions. All the data were analyzed qualitatively, and MSA-CA use in the participants’ productions was also analyzed quantitatively. The findings show that first-year training was sometimes associated with participants’ MSA-CA use. However, learners’ personal preferences, the type of task, topic, and interpersonal cues interacted with the type of training to influence how participants use MSA-CA, providing evidence of the participants’ rich, multifaceted sociolinguistic competence and agency that enable them to navigate tasks and contexts. This study offers important pedagogical implications for the L2 Arabic classroom.
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