Including Heritage Learners in Arabic Language Courses


Arabic language courses are part of the BA/MA requirements in Middle Eastern Studies, Arabic, and International Studies. They are designed for students with limited or no exposure to the language or culture. However, A considerable minority of students in those programs are heritage learners (HLs), students who have considerable experience with the Arabic language and/or culture. HLs are highly diverse, but can generally be seen as belonging to one of two categories: students coming from immigrant families who speak a variety of Arabic with some proficiency; and/or students associated with the culture through religion and experience Arabic mainly through scripture, classical and religious texts in Islamic schools.
Available curricula and course materials do not bear HLs in mind. HLs have different needs from mainstream learners as their previous exposure gives them some cultural or linguistic proficiency, but they often lack language skills related to formal and academic registers. When placed in current courses, HLs often feel left out, sitting through learning tasks designed to develop skills they already possess, only to fill occasional, yet essential, gaps in their knowledge and skills. Alternatively, they are exempt from Arabic language courses altogether, left to cover such gaps through independent study.
Both alternatives exclude HLs from, or limit their integration in, the community of their education programs. More importantly, those alternatives fail to realize HLs’ full potential for advancement in Arabic. This project contributes to more inclusive Arabic language programs by designing courses and learning materials that better fit HL needs.





Dr. H.I.A.A. Ahmed

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies


15/06/2020 tot 01/09/2021