How Parental Involvement Boosts Arabic Language Learning: Insights from Research

Jun 4, 2024

Parental involvement is a key factor in learning Arabic and other second languages.

Research has shown that multiple components of parental involvement are associated with language learning outcomes for children, including heritage and non-native learners. Here are three major areas where parental involvement boosts learning:

Motivations, Expectations, & Attitudes

Five case studies of heritage learners and their families by Temples (2013) suggest that a child’s investment in language learning is strongly driven by parents’ values and priorities relating to mother tongue preservation.

While not specific to Arabic, a meta-analysis from Fan & Chen (2001) found that, in general, the level of academic achievement by students tends to mirror the level of parental involvement in their language learning. More specifically, the researchers discovered that parental aspirations and expectations for a student’s language learning were more connected to academic achievement than other types of involvement, such as supervision.

Homework Support

A comparison of parental involvement between overachieving and underachieving Arabic learners in Indonesia by Rosyidah & Sari (2020) revealed that overachieving students tended to receive more hands-on support from their parents with homework than their underachieving peers.

Though not specific to Arabic, an often-cited study by Hayman, Johnson & Mayers (1964) found that 5th graders learning Spanish who practiced with parents at home or were accompanied by a parent during video lessons saw significant improvements in their performance.

Supplementary Lessons

A common theme from interviews conducted with Attaallah (2020) with five parents of Arabic-speaking children in Sweden was that the parents not only enrolled their children to mother tongue classes, which are offered through the public school system, but also sent their children to additional weekend classes and cultural programming provided by organizations within the Arab immigrant community. In addition to creating opportunities for students to practice speaking Arabic, these groups allowed students and their families to connect with other Arabic speakers in the community.

Results from a review by Senechal & Young (2008) investigating the impact of parental involvement on reading acquisition for English language in the US observed that children with involved parents received higher test scores than children with uninvolved parents. Additionally, the researchers discovered that overall performance improvement was more pronounced for children whose parents taught them to read than for children who were read to by their parents and children who read to their parents.