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Important Factors to Consider for Bilingual Education in the UAE

Hamidaddin, Hoda AlHussain
A Master of Arts Thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Hoda AlHussain Hamidaddin Entitled, "Important Factors to Consider for Bilingual Education in the UAE," June 2008. Available are both Hard and Soft Copies of the Thesis.
Despite the great number of schools which claim to foster bilingualism in the UAE, the voices of many educators and parents in the media reflect the difficulties that these schools face in trying to provide balanced bilingual programs that develop and maintain Arabic and English. Many variables influence the effectiveness of such programs in achieving bilingualism. However, based on results from a previous pilot study that I conducted for the bilingual education course in this MA program at the American University of Sharjah, the focus of this research is on three major factors that appear to interfere with the effectiveness of bilingual programs in the UAE: (a) adequacy of the school culture and language policy used to implement the whole curriculum in promoting bilingualism; (b) teachers' use of effective language teaching strategies and their attitudes towards bilingualism; and (c) parents' attitudes towards their children's L1 and L2 learning. The study examines these factors in two bilingual schools in the UAE - one in Sharjah and one in Dubai - to assess the degree of awareness by school administrators, teachers, and parents of their role in promoting bilingualism, their attitudes towards the two languages, and the actual teaching practices. The data were collected through questionnaires, interviews, and classroom observations. In addition, school variables such as language policy and culture, the type of curriculum and coordination between its subjects, and the value accorded to the two languages of instruction were analyzed in light of previous research on factors affecting bilingual education. Qualitative analysis of collected data revealed that language policies and curricula did not favor the development of a balanced bilingualism, teachers were not well trained or informed of practices that promote the students' bilingual proficiency, neither were parents aware of their role in their children's bilingual education.
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