Arabic at Home

العربية في البيت

Clients discussing refugee language needs
A researcher discussing language needs with clients

This webpage was created in September 2018 to support briefings on home language maintenance in Arabic for staff, volunteers and clients of the Refugee Council in North Yorkshire. The materials were prepared, and briefings delivered, by Sam Hellmuth and Rana Almbark (University of York) and Ghada Khattab (Newcastle University).

Three things we know about multilingualism from linguistic research:

becoming multilingual has positive effects

cultural and socio-economic advantages

(Pert 2016; Danielsson 2017)

improved communication and social functioning in children with autism

(Uljarević et al 2016)

becoming multilingual does not have negative effects

no long-term language delay

(McLeod et al 2016)

maintenance of home language promotes proficiency in all languages

(Durán et al 2016; Persici et al 2017; Méndez et al 2018)

not using the home language can have negative effects

long term effects of lack of early rich linguistic input

(Anderson 1991; Montrul 2008)

loss of cultural fluency

(Unganer 2014)

If the home language is Arabic, research shows it is beneficial to maintain the spoken home dialect, as well as providing access to the written formal language.

(Albirini 2014)

“It is important that the home language is not given up in the belief that using English will support the child at school. Using just English will mean that your child only speaks English and will lose their home language.

Children spend more time at home than in school over a year at any age. Children also receive the best language input from people who speak a home language. When speaking a home language, adults are able to provide a very rich language model for children.

Children who can speak more than one language have access to others in the extended family and community and are able to understand themselves and their heritage more fully.”

Source: Pert, S. (2016) Bilingualism [Glossary]. Afasic England. URL:

Three ways to support Arabic-speaking families raising bilingual children in the UK:

accurate information

  • get leaflets and videos translated into Arabic

  • briefings with other groups in Yorkshire

  • share links to resources for learning Arabic

ongoing support

    • materials for play groups and youth clubs

    • materials for parent/carer support groups

    • training for volunteers to become home language maintenance champions

informed policy and practice

    • briefings for schools/SLTs/social workers

    • briefings for local councils/agencies

What three things should we do first?

Please complete our feedback survey:

All responses are anonymous.

رجاءً أكمل إستبيان الرأي على الرابط التالي:

كافة الردود مجهولة الهوية

Useful links