Teaching Arabic Post 9/11: Humor and the Potential for Critical Language Awareness

Sawsan O. Abbadi


In this study, I draw on data from an ethnographic study of a university-level Arabic as a foreign language classroom to demonstrate how humor could be used as a pedagogical tool to make visible relationships between language and ideology. Tools from critical discourse analysis are used to analyze a teacher’s linguistic choices in political humor and the relationship between these choices and the negative representations of the Arabic speaking world that characterize what Byrnes (2004) calls “the language of the public sphere” in the U.S. post 9/11. A follow up discussion of the potential of using humor as a form of Critical Language Awareness is offered to raise students’ awareness of the way in which language maintains ideological assumptions and constructs misrepresentations of the ‘other.’


Language, Second Language, Humor, Critical Language Awareness.

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