Call 2: The Arab Journal of Applied Linguistics-Special Issue Fall 2023


As Guest Editor of The Arab Journal of Applied Linguistics (AJAL), I invite you to submit papers on the following topic:

Dyslexia in the Context of Arabic: Opportunities and Challenges for Early Identification, Assessment, and Intervention

The Arab Journal of Applied Linguistics  (AJAL- ISSN: 2490-4198) is a biannual, peer-reviewed, and open-access journal devoted to the study of languages and language education in the Arab world from different disciplinary perspectives, including education, language pedagogy, language planning and policies, sociology, psychology, information technology, translation, and speech and hearing. The Arab world refers to those countries that recognize Arabic as their official language. They cover a large geographical zone, extending from Mauritania in North Africa to Bahrain in the Middle East, with a population exceeding 400 million inhabitants. Though they share historical, religious, and linguistic traits, the Arab countries manifest degrees of linguistic, cultural, and ethnographic variation. Their language policies are by no means uniform, especially when it comes to the teaching and learning of foreign languages.

The aim of this Special Issue is to provide a unified forum for researchers and practitioners interested in applied linguistic issues, with special reference to the Arab context.

About this Special Issue


Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin, characterized by deficits in the phonological component of language and difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, and poor decoding and spelling. It is a condition shaped by multiple interacting factors such as familial risk, nature of the language (alphabetic or non-alphabetic), orthography (transparency, granularity), as well as other related, though not causal, factors including reading motivation, general ability level, opportunity to learn, access to language, and availability of services. Despite decades of research, our understanding of dyslexia remains incomplete, often undermined by current myths, misconceptions, and disagreements about what constitutes dyslexia, impacting its early detection, assessment, and intervention. This is especially the case in Arabic, the main language spoken and taught in the MENA region.

We argue that there are multiple reasons that render Arabic an ideal candidate for informing our understanding of reading development and dyslexia. First, the diglossic nature of Arabic may be another source of (though not causal to) reading difficulty for learners. Arabic spoken (amiya) and written (fusha) varieties differ across the language components, rendering mapping of oral language onto written language less straightforward, thus negatively impacting children’s linguistic representations needed for reading. Second, Arabic is rarely offered as the only language in schools; it is often taught as the primary language while French or English are taught as a second language. This bilingual context is ideal for examining language-specific and language-universal factors that are potentially implicated, as the evidence suggests that dyslexia could to be influenced by the language(s) children learn. Third, many countries in the MENA region have been undergoing major conflicts and economic crises for decades, contributing to traumatic experiences that stunt children’s development and their ability to learn language (s), particularly in the case of dyslexia. Fourth, the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the conditions under which Arabic teaching and learning occur. This has led to hampering of services that students receive, and limiting access to quality education, likely resulting in a pronounced learning loss (Engzell et al., 2021). While the effects of learning loss are widespread, likely affecting all learners, emerging evidence suggests that students with dyslexia tend to show slower progress than expected during the COVID-19 lockdown (Baschenis et al., 2021). They are also more susceptible to the negative effect of virtual learning and the change in the delivery of instruction compared to their counterparts without dyslexia (Soriano-Ferrer et al., 2021). Collectively, these variables coalesce to exert cascading effects that negatively impact reading in children with dyslexia, offering both challenges as well as opportunities to reexamine how Arabic is taught and learned, thereby supporting this timely, much needed study of the construct of dyslexia in Arabic.   


The aim of this Special Issue is to provide a developmental, cross-disciplinary view of the current state of knowledge on dyslexia in Arabic, advocating for a broad conceptualization of the condition to inform research, practice, and policy, potentially leading to transformative curricula, innovative reading interventions, and well-designed professional development programs. We are intentional in inviting papers that represent different disciplines and tackle issues surrounding dyslexia from applied epistemological perspectives. We are especially keen to consider papers that focus on early screening, assessment, and intervention and meet the following criteria:

  • Address various aspects of language—spoken and/or written;
  • Focus one or more components of language impacted in dyslexia, namely phonology, morphology, semantics, and pragmatics;
  • Bridge distinct levels of analysis from neurobiological to cognitive behavioral factors;
  • Empirical studies that are evidence-based and grounded in the science of reading and the science of teaching reading;
  • Reviews (scoping, systematic, meta-analyses);
  • Theoretical (empirical) papers and commentaries;
  • Focus on translational science principles to various learning contexts such as home, preschool, daycare, and classroom by bridging the gap between basic science research findings and teacher implementation; and
  • Incorporate cutting-edge technologies.

Through cross-pollination from various disciplines ranging from education, communication sciences and disorders, linguistics, developmental psychology, and clinical psychology, we hope to paint a current view of dyslexia that contributes to a fuller understanding of the issues surrounding the condition, forming the basis for future policy, research, and practice in Arabic.

Important deadlines:

  • Abstract submission deadline: August 1st, 2022
  • Proposal abstracts should be submitted by email attachment to the editor ( with “AJAL Special Issue: Dyslexia in Arabic” as the subject line.
  • Notification of acceptance/rejection will be sent by September 1st, 2022.
  • Please be aware that selection of the proposal abstract does not guarantee publication, as full manuscripts will be subject to blind peer review process.


Information to be included in the Abstract Proposal:

  • Name of Author(s), affiliation(s) and e-mail address(es).
  • Brief description of the context being targeted, the study and its pertinence/relevance to the special issue theme.
  • Maximum of 450-500 words.
  • Qualitative, Quantitative or Mixed method; Empirical or Theoretical paper; Book Review; Commentary.  


Information regarding full paper if the abstract is accepted:

  • Deadline for submission of the full manuscript: February 1st, 2023.
  • 7,000 to 8,000 words inclusive of notes, tables, figures and references.
  • Each article will receive two independent blind peer reviews.
  • Abstracts may be submitted in English and Arabic.



Publication dates:

  • Manuscripts will undergo up to two review cycles, with final, revised manuscripts due in spring of 2023.
  • The Special Issue will be published in fall 2023.

For further information on the Journal’s submission guidelines, please visit “Information for Authors”, available on AJAL’s page:

Lama K. Farran, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

University of West Georgia, United States

Guest Editor