Learning Arabic as a Second Language: An Exploration of the Efficacy of Arabic Subtitles by Netflix Viewers





Journal title


Vol. 3 No. 11


Hamza Ethelb
Mohammad Mahzari
Mohamed Hussein
Abdulfattah Omar


The recent years have witnessed an increasing interest in subconscious language acquisition as an effective approach in foreign language learning contexts. This interest has been reflected in the development of different technologies that support subconscious learning processes. Due to the information technology revolution we are witnessing today, there is an unprecedented development of language learning technologies including mobile applications, websites, and multimedia. Subtitling, however, remains one of the most popular but under-researched language learning tools that is widely used to support language learning processes. Despite the prolific literature on subconscious processes and the use of subtitling in improving language acquisition in different languages including English, Spanish, and Chinese, similar research with Arabic has not yet been undertaken. This can be attributed to the fact that teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (ASL) has long been carried out using traditional methods. There used to be a gap between teaching Arabic on one side and learning technologies on the other. With the development of new technologies that support Arabic subtitling, it is important to investigate the impact, if any, of these new technologies on improving the language acquisition of Arabic by non-native speakers. With this background, this study seeks to explore the role of Arabic subtitling provided by Netflix in the language acquisition of learners of Arabic as a Second Language (ASL). Towards this aim, data were collected through focus-group discussions and interviews with learners of ASL in three universities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt to explore their perceptions about the usefulness and effectiveness of Arabic subtitling provided by Netflix. Thematic content analysis was used for data analysis and interpretation. The findings indicate that Arabic subtitling was useful for the language development of the learners as it introduced them to the vernacular dialects of Arabic and improved theirmotivation. Educators, educational institutions, and program designers of ASL are recommended to integrate language technologies and subtitling into the learning environments and teaching methodologies for improving the linguistic acquisition and performance of learners of ASL.



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