The attitudes of bilingual Arab immigrant children to their languages

2019 IJRSE – Volume 8 Issue 1


Alsahafi, Morad*
King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia (


This paper seeks to explore how Arab immigrant children view Arabic, English and Arabic-English bilingualism. Data for the study were collected through narrative interviews and observations with a group of 10 Arabic speaking immigrant children living with their parents in Auckland, New Zealand. Analysis of the data indicated that the children had positive attitudes towards Arabic, English, and bilingualism in Arabic and English. Despite their awareness of their inferior Arabic skills and preference for using English, Arabic maintenance was regarded as important for maintaining contacts with parents and extended families overseas and preserving religious identity. The children also held positive attitudes towards English and bilingualism. The majority of them said that they found English to be easier to learn and use than Arabic in their English-dominant environment. The importance of English was reinforced by such instrumental reasons as school success and communicating with members of the wider community. Similarly, the children had positive attitudes towards being bilingual in Arabic and English, and articulated a number of practical advantages such as the ability to communicate more widely and elevated self-esteem.

Keywords: bilingualism; immigrant children; language attitudes; language maintenance



*Corresponding Author