Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Sara Joswik

Second Advisor

Sandra Pucci

Committee Members

Hamid Ouali, Rai Kalyani


heritage language learners in the U.S


This study highlights the experiences of former high school students in learning and using their Heritage Language (HL) in their homes, communities, and community schools. The study also reveals the major challenges in maintaining and promoting Arabic language proficiency as viewed by the study participants. Eight participants from three different full-time community schools in the Midwest participated in this study. Each participant completed three formal interview sessions and one follow-up interview. The interview data provide unique perspectives of the participants themselves, offering a window into their language input, language behavior, and their sociolinguistic experiences including their language attitudes, ethnic, and cultural identities. This study also explores participants’ perspectives on language learning and connectedness to the Arab community by examining data from an 8-month phenomological study. The data highlighted a number of patterns of linguistic profiles of reading, writing, and speaking behaviors of these former high school students that suggest that the participants’ experiences are generally more similar than different. The study revealed a sense of general discontent towards the results of learning Arabic at their community schools and the outcomes of their Arabic language proficiency over all. Participants viewed speaking articulately as more important to them than other language skills like formal writing. These results may suggest a connection between maintaining Arabic language and language ideologies and practices held at home, in the community and in the schools. The study concluded that the sociolinguistic, pedagogical, and ideological factors that are required for the attainment of language competence may not be present for this group of study participants.