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Toward Gender-Just L2 Arabic Education: Attitudes and Practices of Arabic Instructors in Comparison to Spanish and Italian
Abstract by Ms. Maryah Converse On Session VI-30  (Experimental Pedagogies)

On Friday, November 3 at 4:00 pm

2023 Annual Meeting

The ACTFL 2019 statement on diversity and inclusion calls on world language teachers to foster “equal access to world language study and equitable opportunities for all individuals” in the study of world languages. Knisely and Paiz (2021) argue that the progress made thus far continues to render invisible the experiences of trans, non-binary, gender nonconforming (TGNC) people, especially in languages other than English. Students and instructors in foreign and second language (L2) classrooms have begun expressing a growing concern about appropriately addressing the barriers and needs of TGNC students when the target language has a strictly and pervasively binary grammatical structure. In Arabic, for example, binary gender is encoded not only in singular pronouns, but also plural pronouns, nouns, adjectives, verbs, even sometimes adjectives, and secondary and post-secondary Arabic instructors across the country are seeking remedies for their nonbinary students. This study seeks a better understanding of current gender inclusive attitudes and practices in L2 teaching and of contextual factors influencing the choices teachers make, with the purpose of raising awareness about barriers to gender-just L2 pedagogy. In this mixed-method study, instructors of Italian, Arabic, and Spanish in U.S. universities completed an online survey and a subset of participants were interviewed about their knowledge of sociolinguistic changes in the L2 speaking communities; their degree of investment in gender-just pedagogy; barriers and incentives; and teaching practices about TGNC inclusivity in their foreign language classes. A descriptive thematic analysis of the survey and follow-up interviews, filtered through the frame of our research questions, show that L2 teachers have different understanding and levels of investment in TGNC inclusivity. Findings show that instructors are influenced by the level of consensus regarding the use of novel third- or neutral-gender grammar options in the native-speaking communities of the language they are teaching; their language and gender ideologies; perceived level of departmental support and autonomy; and other factors. Implications call for further research, as well as resources and training to guide teachers in supporting and addressing gender-just language education. This presentation will focus on how this plays out for Arabic instructors, and what Arabic pedagogy can adopt from the practices of other language and language teaching communities.
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North America
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