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Impact of English on Young Arabs' Use of Arabic in the UAE

Hanani, Fatiha
A Master of Arts Thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Fatiha Hanani Entitled, "Impact of English on Young Arabs' Use of Arabic in the UAE," December 2009. Available are both Hard and Soft Copies of the Thesis.
English language education has become a vital part of many educational systems in the world. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the official language is Arabic, but with the diversity of the population, English is used as the language of wider communication. English is not only used as a lingua franca among the multiple nationalities and ethnic groups that reside in the UAE, but also proficiency in English is perceived to be fundamental for any student seeking a prosperous career. Thus, bilingualism has led to widespread use of English among the young Arab generation who are gradually "losing their ability to think and produce knowledge in Arabic" (Badry, 2007, p. 1). Given this widespread use of English in all areas of communication, this study explored high school students' use of and attitudes towards their mother tongue, Arabic, and English. I sought to know how young Arabs' acquisition of English affected their use of Arabic and attitudes towards it, and whether or not the extensive use of English might lead to the loss of the Arabic language. Arabic speaking students between the ages of 14 and 16 from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds and from five private international schools in Dubai and Sharjah where the medium of instruction is English and the Arabic language is taught as a subject answered a questionnaire about their linguistic practices and attitudes towards their native language. In addition, 73 of the students' parents completed a survey about their awareness of whether the use of English impacts the maintenance of Arabic and their perceptions of the role of English in the future of their children. The analysis of the data collected from both these students and parents indicated that although there was an obvious impact of English on these young Arabs' use of Arabic, both students and parents were not fully aware of its consequences.
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