[lg policy] lecture: Language Policy and the Educator: An Ethnographic Look at the Arabic Heritage Language Context

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 12 16:22:02 UTC 2011

Educational Language Policy across the Academic Pipe
Language Policy and the Educator: An Ethnographic Look at the Arabic
Heritage Language Context

As with any construct of human society, language policy is dynamic; it
is malleable, ultimately shaped by the minds of individuals. In a
classroom, it carries the imprint of a teacher"s interpretations,
personal experiences, professional experiences, and ideologies. When
thinking of language policy, the first inclination is to turn to the
profound effects borne from national and state level written
documents. To begin to grasp how these policies evolve from the pen to
function in practice, one must look to the individuals through whom
they become an everyday reality.

Although language policy is personalized in each classroom, it mirrors
the larger society; to account for this complex relationship, an
ecological perspective can be taken (Hult, 2010). This study uses this
perspective in focusing on the unique role language policy plays in an
Islamic school in which Arabic is taught as a heritage language. It
explores the nature of language policies currently in place, both
official and unofficial, and asks what particular policies are
reflected in educational practice. Ethnographic methods are used to
pursue the depth of investigation needed to build on a holistic
description of language policy as a dynamic system (Hornberger &
Johnson, 2007), and also to contribute to the need for more research
on the nature of Arabic as a heritage language in the United States
(Bale, 2010). Through close observation and interviews with teachers,
a window to an understanding of the livelihood of language policy in
this setting is opened.

Presented by:

Amira Abdul-Hafiz
University of Texas at San Antonio

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