Language policy in higher education in the United Arab Emirates: proficiency, choices and the future of Arabic

Source of Publication

Language Policy


© 2020, Springer Nature B.V. This article explores the linguistic tension resulting from the English-medium instruction policy at a state university in the UAE. The article is informed by a critical theoretical approach that views language policy from the vantage point of both Arabic and English. It argues that, contrary to the stated national and institutional goals, the current language policy and its implementation are depleting the linguistic capital of the nation. Data drawn from multiple sources show that English-medium instruction is incompatible with the students’ low levels of proficiency in English; that the implementation of the institution’s bilingual policy is geared towards the development of English only; and that a monolingual conceptualisation underpins institutional practices, thus contributing to Arabic language loss in the education domain. The article proposes that higher education in the country be linguistically diversified in order to achieve the goals of higher education and to protect the linguistic rights of local citizens.

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Publication Date




Author First name, Last name, Institution

Afaf Al-Bataineh, Zayed University