AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume3, Number4. October 2019                                    Pp.189-207

 Film as a Tool for Teaching Arabic Cultures

Department of World Languages and Cultures
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas, USA


Abstract PDF

This article is a narrative of the author’s practice in teaching Arabic cultures to American college students. It suggests that using films as an educational tool will animate culture and promote intercultural competence. Films with their broad spectrum of themes and characters, present not only the general characteristics of a society, but also its subtleties and complexities. By humanizing the Arab world, the author hopes to raise awareness of stereotypes and promote understanding and empathy. A film alone, however, is inadequate as class material. This article describes the author’s rationale in designing and teaching the class, and the way it has helped shift students’ perspectives. First, the reasoning includes recognizing the stereotype together with its origin. Second, it establishes the cultural framework and themes. Third, it uses films to showcase contemporary issues and people’s behaviors. The movies and documentaries, cited herein, are just examples, by no way inclusive, of how a film can be incorporated as class material to help put a human face to a diverse culture.

Cite as:

Zahrawi, S. (2019). Film as a Tool for Teaching Arabic Cultures. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies3 (4)189-207.


Samar Zahrawi received her PhD from the University of Leeds, U.K. in Modern Drama in 1992.
She taught modern drama at Al-Baath University, Syria, and King Saud University, KSA.
Currently, she is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Sam Houston State University,
College of Humanities and Social Science, Department of World Languages and Cultures. Having
a background in English and comparative drama, her current research interest is Syrian and Arabic
drama. She is also interested in film studies and uses film and theater critique in her Arabic culture
classes. ORCid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6897-523X