A STUDY OF THE CHALLENGES FACING ARABIC-SPEAKING ESL STUDENTS AND TEACHERS: CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC AWARENESS
Akasha, Omran Ali Abdalla
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This dissertation includes a pilot study on the challenges facing students and teachers in middle school and a follow-up study on the influences of situated learning on pre-service teachers' cultural and linguistic awareness. The first study was conducted in spring 2012 and it focused on two Arabic-speaking ESL students and eight in-service middle school teachers. Data sources included teacher and student interviews, classroom observations, and a parent survey. Research questions focused on the needs of the Arabic-speaking ESL students, the factors that influence their learning, and the problems the teachers face in supporting these students. The study concluded that several important challenges for teachers and students exist, including time, language support, and knowledge. The follow-up study was conducted in spring 2013 and it focused on 25 pre-service teachers and twelve Arab families. The overall goal of the follow-up study was to explore the influence of situated learning experiences on pre-service teachers' cultural and linguistic awareness. Data sources included a pre- and post-experience case, pre- and post- KWLS chart, focus groups, a family survey, and student reflections. Data showed that the situated learning experience helped the pre-service teachers develop their cultural knowledge as well as learn about Arab families, Arab culture, and their future classrooms.