Learning English as a Foreign Language in Saudi Arabia

Date:  2021-03-09 05:49:50
7 pages  (1821 words)
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As English is now becoming the language of education, politics, commerce so on and so forth; Saudi Arabia is in investing in this sector considerably. Saudi Arabia is one of those countries which use English in its educational system as a main mean it starts from elementary school till the highest level a learner might achieve. Vital Saudi professions such as medicine and aviation consider English as the major, if not the only language of communication (Abalhassan, 2002).

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Challenges among Saudi EFL learners have been a great deal whether for them or teachers as some of these learners have poor performance in interaction inside EFL classrooms despite other deficiencies that they might have. According to (Jackson, 2011) he claims that a successful learning process is relying on the progress of learners and the way learners are influenced by the effectiveness of every positive attitude regarding their education. Furthermore, (Tatar, 2005) states that active classroom participation played an important role in the success of language learning. Some scholars have identified that there are some key factors that cause learners to be passive and reluctant. To illustrate, (Williams & Burden, 1997) stated that behavior of learners in second language learning depends on a complex set of interacting factors, such as motivation, anxiety and personal attitudes. Shifting to learners who tend to participate in EFL classrooms, there was specific reason that made them better than those who are reluctant such as having better academic achievement (Liu, 2005).

Whatsoever, Saudi EFL learners are not an exception in this matter since many EFL learners are having the same problem. A clear example is that many Asian learners prefer to be passive and choose not to communicate using a second language when responding to teachers (Cortazzi& Jin, 1996; Tsui, 1996). Moreover, Saudi EFL learners' behavior can be affected culturally through being reticent to the religion. For instance, in a community that is conservative and closed to some extent such as Saudi Arabia, it has been observed that it is difficult for people to accept the notion that another language cannot be taught to Muslims (Alfallaj, 1998).

Regardless of what have been mentioned, Saudi EFL learners and teachers have to consider the common complexities that might be faced since English is a second language in Saudi Arabia. It has to be fully known that reaching a good competence in EFL, needs massive hard working and time despite the many factors affecting learners' level. As this research paper is focusing on Saudi EFL learners' lack of participation and being reluctant, it is hoped that this study will investigate the causes of such a matter and attempt to suggest techniques that can limit this phenomenon from spreading in Saudi EFL context.

Statement of the Problem

It is very important to note that Saudi EFL learners are exposed to many challenges that may affect the process of learning. Nevertheless, as a Saudi EFL learner I have observed that one of the most important issues that teachers face is learners' reluctant behavior inside Saudi EFL classroom as well as the lack of participation even in simple activities which might be known as foreign language anxiety. Such a problem has to be considered especially in the mean time where learners prefer to be reluctant when they are sometimes asked to participate. However, this problem is a real hindrance that might affect Saudi EFL learners' proficiency. Teachers and learners have to put in consideration that this problem might have serious effects such as knowing learners level by teachers and the delay in the learners progress learning. The present study is meant to study this problem due to its seriousness and the harmful effects it might cause. In relation to what have been mentioned this phenomenon has reasons that are caused by psychological and cultural factors which will be discussed later in the study.

Research Objectives

This study is set to the following objectives:

To find the causes of Saudi EFL learners' reluctance toward teachers and participation inside the classroom.

To present techniques that might be used by teachers to motivate learners and limit the problem.

The Significance of the Study

The outcome of the study will attempt at presenting a clear illustration on the causes of Saudi EFL learners' poor participation and reluctance toward teachers hoping that this study can help teachers of English Department in Jazan University to avoid such a problem and cope with it in future. Furthermore, it is hoped that the result of this study help teachers develop methods and plans in order to decrease the potential effects that could happen. However, this present study might help scholars who are interested in solving the same problem by considering this issue under the category of psychological matters.

Limitations of the Study

This study was specified to classmates that I know and some of them I do not at Jazan University. A small number of learners have been interviewed due to the lack of time and the heavy load of subjects during the semester that I have. It may be better in case of using questionnaire and interviewing large number of learners, but taking into consideration the reasons I have mentioned this can be rational. During the interviews there were some difficulties which I was expected before. Some learners find it difficult to reveal information about their deficiencies especially in the Saudi EFL context. The study could have been better if I interviewed learners from other colleges so that a full covered concept could be clarified.

Definition of Terms

The following terms were mentioned in the study:

Reluctant Learner

(Herzog, 2002) defines a reluctant learner as a learner who is not interested in life at all, is not interested in what you are teaching, and is not able to learn in the time-frame or manner of presentation.

Foreign Language Anxiety

Bailey et al. (1999) define foreign language classroom anxiety as the state of Discomfort experienced by the learner in the foreign language classroom (P. 65).


(Jung, 1971) defines attitude as a readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way.


This paper aims at dissecting and explaining the causes of students reluctance towards teachers and participation in Saudi EFL classrooms. This paper aims at not only examining the issues but also finding ways of solving the problems for the better of learning. To achieve that, first, I will have to understand how different authors feel or even say about students reluctance. The paper will use an accurate method to gather first-hand information from pupils. It will involve interviewing at least 15 students with questions addressing the whole issue. Nevertheless, the paper will briefly analyze the aggregate information to check for clarity of points as well as to check if it is genuine. Afterward, the paper will open up a discussion to elaborate the received data. It will give a go ahead to the conclusion. Afterward, the paper will address all the findings and especially from the interviewed students. The findings will further be backed up with the one from different authors. Therefore, the findings will help in giving moderate recommendations that will be applied in Saudi EFL classrooms to change students learning behavior.

Chapter Two: Literature Review

However, the growing need to accumulate as well as survive in the modern world raises needs to understand various languages that people use. However, learning all the languages may become a bit tiresome, and only a few people can manage that, Abalhassan (2002). To solve the fore mentioned problem, most countries around the world take English as a common language that one has no obligation but to learn. Abalhassan (2002) addresses Saudi Arabia as being among the many nations that are investing both time and money to ensure there people learn English. Abalhassan continues to say that English has taken over all sectors of life in the country. For instance, businesses, politics, and even education are being operated only in English; nevertheless, learning institutions in Saudi Arabia face lots of challenges due to learners negative attitude towards learning. Jackson (2011) argues on the same point as Abalhassan (2002) by saying that active learning starts from the mind of the student and how he/she receives motivation from the positive outcomes of education. Therefore, to assess the issue Reza (2015) says that language studies in Saudi Arabia have significantly been affected by learners reticence; most universities have experienced the problem and hence creating awareness that needs attention at all cost. Reza (2015) quotes Jazan University in Saudi Arabia as one of the universities where most students in level 1 previous year face challenges of reticence in studying English.

However, Reza (2015) took the initiative of finding some of the factors that associate with reluctance. According to the results, Reza holds that the role of teachers and how they relate to students matters a lot. Additionally, lack of motivation, anxiety and even the learning environment plays a significant role engendering reticence. Alhmadi (2014) has taken the same initiative as that of Reza to understand why English has become a major problem in Arab countries and especially in Saudi Arabia. According to Alhmadi (2014), teaching strategies, lack of motivation and even English curriculum are among the significant challenges in English learning practices.

Since English became the primary area of interest to many people around the world, researchers and scholars have concentrated much on Arab countries, Alhmadi (2014). They want to know how teachers carry out the task of administering English. Moreover, the scholars wish to understand the teachers level of education. According to Alhmadi (2014), lack of motivation arises when the students know that even their instructors do not fully understand what they are teaching. Students need to have teachers who are much conversant with English and especially someone from English speaking countries. However, Hamouda (2012) tries to argue on why reluctance has become the main topic in Saudi Arabia Universities and especially on issues relating to English learning. Hamouda (2012) says that active participation of a student in classroom determines how effective he/she will be in understanding any concept. The more one tries to utter English words the more he/she gets more knowledge regarding a certain topic and vice versa. Contrary, students in EFL never wants to work even to utter simple English words. According to Hamouda (2012), English is kind of punishment to them. They do not have time to realize its significance in future.

After a research was done to differentiate active students and reluctant ones, it shows that the more a student gets involved in issues like raising queries and participating in a discussion with other students and teachers the more quick one becomes in a particular language. Hamouda (2012) wants people to stop blaming teachers for not giving students what they deserve. It is clear that teachers have tried all they can but their efforts are turned down by students. However, not all students perform poorly in class, and that shows that teachers actively participate in helping students, Alhmadi (2014).

Also, teachers need students participation to test whether what they give to students is well digested for better understanding. For instance, Hamouda (2012) h...

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