Evaluating Arabic Textbooks: Authenticity of Genres and Vocabulary
AuthorMoser, Janelle Nicole
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 07/31/2021
AbstractTextbooks play a central role in foreign language curriculum setting and teaching (Littlejohn, 1998; Harwood, 2010). With textbooks structuring up to 90% of the foreign language curriculum (Tyson & Woodward, 1989), it is critical to ask if materials are authentic, and expose students to language with a “real audience” and a “real message” (Morrow, 1977, p.13). These texts are proven to provide the best opportunities for second language (L2) acquisition (Mishan, 2005). The L2 authenticity debate since moved beyond textual authenticity, and considers the role of the learner and context in constructing authenticity (i.e. Breen, 1983). Still others question authenticity as a construct, and instead champion goals for teaching and learning over the reality of materials (i.e. Tatsuki, 2006). This approach prizes matching what learners need to accomplish in a foreign language over introducing authentic materials for their own sake. It is unclear if foreign language textbooks have caught up to this debate, and consider authenticity of materials as well as how students might apply textbook content when interacting, reading, listening, and understanding language outside of the L2 classroom. Study of Arabic as a Foreign Language (AFL) textbooks remains especially neglected due to a lack of resources and focused research on the topic (Bergman, 2009). The studies in this dissertation add to this body of literature by incorporating textual, learner, and classroom authenticity, as well as a post authenticity perspective, to ask how well textbooks prepare learners for success. Broadly, this dissertation asks the following research questions: (1) Are genres and topics presented to students before study abroad helpful in interacting with the genres and topics they actually encounter?; (2) Does textbook vocabulary prepare students to read texts in genres and language varieties surveys tell us they want to read? (3) Does textbook vocabulary in the most popular Arabic textbooks prepare students with the vocabulary they are most likely to meet in a natural language environment? Results of this dissertation will shed light on gaps between texts and vocabulary students need to read, write, and communicate, and those provided to them by textbooks. This collection of articles is one of the few exploring how well textbooks prepare learners for future success as language learners. This dissertation is then of interest to not only Arabic teachers, curriculum designers, and program directors, but also to those who focus on textbooks and language learning in general.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching