Digital Literacy in Arabic Speakers: The Role of Bilingualism in Effective Use of Web Resources

Susan Dun, Dina Mutassem

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The digital divide, which separates those with and without access to Web resources, is a significant concern with the explosion of resources available via the Web. However research carried out in the US demonstrates that providing access alone does not eliminate the digital divide; rather, users must be digitally literate to effectively use Web resources. To what extent and how true this is in other societies is an open and important question for countries attempting to develop their Internet technology, such as Qatar. In fact, ictQATAR includes among its goals to ‘universalize access to social services and to create a knowledge-based online society.'1 Without a concomitant programme to increase digital literacy, however, this effort will likely face considerable challenges. Accordingly, one objective of this study is to provide an initial assessment of Internet digital literacy in monolingual speakers of Arabic and bilingual native speakers of Arabic whose second language is English in Qatar. We are in the process of data collection and report our preliminary data. We will measure both the ability of the searchers to successfully complete the tasks as well their efficiency. We will correlate the results with demographic variables to determine if there are difference in digital literacy levels of Arabic vs. English and bilingual vs. monolinguals. This information will shed light on the ability of mono and bilingual speakers to access and use Web-based resources, illuminating the ways in which language abilities intersecting with digital literacy can influence the cyber spaces users can access and occupy. Some users may be effectively excluded from large amounts of cyberculture, information, and resources simply because of linguistic and digital abilities, even though they have Web access. To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate Arabic users’ and bilinguals’ web searching strategies using observational methods. The results should not only aid local decision makers but also provide a rich source of information for scholars of the Internet, allowing the development of more effective educational interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Digital Janus
Subtitle of host publicationLooking Forward, Looking Back
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781848883055
ISBN (Print)9789004371248
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Arabic
  • bilingual
  • Digital literacy
  • Internet
  • Web use
  • Web-searching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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