“I firmly believe we need more research on languages other than English, especially by bringing in the learning experience of the learner. This involves bringing in all the stakeholders that are a part of the social construction.”

– Juwaeriah Siddiqui

Juwaeriah SiddiquiJuwaeriah Siddiqui a PhD student in Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies, is researching the motivational system of second language learners of Arabic by observing their immediate learning environment.

“I am interested in the dynamic nature of their motivation and am working on classifying their motivation styles, particularly in the Middle Eastern context,” explained Siddiqui. “Once I understand the key archetypes, I will trace their development and investigate how it is constructed by their past and present learning experiences in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”

This research will provide important intervention points to improve the second language acquisition process and may inform the development of successful immersion programs for second language learners.

“Despite studying Arabic as a mandatory subject in school (K-12), there is very low Arabic Language proficiency among the non-native Arabic learners in the UAE,” shared Siddiqui. “The impact of social, cultural and religious factors is rarely considered when studying the motivation of such learners and needs to be examined further. After having shared my concerns with the non-native speakers of Arabic living in the UAE (like parents, teachers, children), I was inspired to address this gap in the system.”

This encouraged Siddiqui to develop a start-up called Arabically in 2015 with a vision to instill an element of love and fun around the Arabic language.

“I started by providing online services, which eventually led to developing motivational programs and workshops for schools in the UAE,” said Siddiqui. “However, being a Systems Science Engineer by training, my way of thinking compelled me to search for a more strategic approach to studying the motivation of students and bring in a holistic perspective to Arabic language learning.”

Having lived in the United Arab Emirates, Siddiqui was quite aware of the challenges families face when it comes to learning and using the Arabic language.

“While there are several initiatives to promote the language, there are still gaps that need to be addressed to promote higher proficiency-based teaching and to develop skilled learners of Arabic,” shared Siddiqui. “By classifying the key motivational styles and tracing key learners and their collective experiences, the different dynamic phases in their motivational development can be understood. This has important implications for teachers and curriculum developers on the type of intervention they plan or the type of language skill they want to develop. As parents and educators, this research will provide guidelines on being more mindful of the learning environment we create at home and opportunities we provide for them to be more motivated to learn Arabic.”

To conduct this research, Siddiqui is working with private schools in the UAE, along with secondary school students and heads of program departments.

“I have started gathering data from secondary school students, their thoughts, opinions and their relationship with the Arabic language, for both academic and non-academic reasons,” explained Siddiqui. “Given the huge shift to online learning across the globe, it has been a challenge getting parental consent for each student before we collect data. However, I am hoping in the next few weeks I reach my goal and can move on to the next stage of my research design.”

Dr. Eva Kartchava, an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies has been supervising Siddiqui throughout this research.

“Through every stage in my PhD career, I have always found her enthusiastic and open to cross disciplinary ideas, which is a real help given the nature of my work.”

Moving forward, Siddiqui aims to combine her experience to design programs and podcasts for the second language learner’s community.

“With the practical experience and research insights, I plan to expand my venture globally, while also teach at the intersection of second language learning motivation, complexity and child studies,” explained Siddiqui.

–The above story was written by Taia Goguen-Garner,

Thursday, March 4, 2021 in ,
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