The Problems of Learning English in Elementary School in Saudi Arabia
I certify that all material in this proposal, which is not my own work, has been identified and that no material has previously been submitted and approved for the award of a degree by this or any other University.
4. April 2015
Table of Contents
Literature Review 4
Significance of the Research 8
Research Question 8
Research Methodology 8
Ethical Consideration 9
Limitation of the Study 9
Expected Results 9
English education in Saudi Arabian undergoes various modifications since its setting off in the year 1982. The elementary schools introduce English to students at an early age. The objective of this study is to investigate the constraints that acquisition of the language faces in the institutions. The vital information for the research will be provided by forty teachers who will give their opinions concerning the issue. The tutors will be required to fill a questionnaire form that contains a set of situations put together. In addition, they will record their observations regarding to the students’ comprehension level. Various elementary schools in Riyadh city will take part in data collection. The outcome demonstrates noteworthy challenges that learners experience.
Saudi Arabia introduced English language learning curriculum in 1928, and it conforms to the Wallerstein’s world system. The intention of the course was to integrate the nation internationally. Since then, the program has undergone numerous modifications to enable it reach the present eminent status across the world. Besides, society changes such as rapid economy growth and education expansion have accelerated its intensification. The influx of foreign workforce and an increase in the positive attitude of the citizens towards the lingo are the other significant factors that have accelerated its expansion. Finally, the country has diversified international media that broadcast foreign languages. In such a case, it provided the exceptional tools for every person who was willing to improve the usage of them. For several years, only one foreign language used to dominate in the Saudi Arabian educational system.
According to Al-Mahrooqi and Denman (2015), Saudi locals have an optimistic mindset and believe that the language is significant for the future prosperity of their economy because it is necessary in various spheres of influence. As a global language, it can be applied in the diverse aspects of life such as academic, social, and working. Everyone who searches of a bright career strives to acquire proficiency in the language, which enjoys the high status, functions, and practical efforts on the one hand; it copes with myriad challenges in primary schools on the other. In particular, students’ performance continues to remain insufficient and below anticipation (Al-Mahrooqi & Denman, 2015).
English in Saudi Arabian Elementary schools undergoes diverse challenges such as curriculum aspects, students’ beliefs, as well as administrative and pedagogy constriction. The conviction of learners regards their attitude towards mastering the speech. Most of them use Arabic widely in regular communication, therefore, substantially undermines the success of educators (Al-Omrani, 2008). Secondly, the misconceptions that students bring to the classroom, such as “the language is difficult”, induce them with negative attitudes and perceptions that ultimately result in unfavorable performance.
Al-Mahrooqi and Denman (2015) state that many students assume that fluent speaker must learn the lingo as the first language to gain a splutter. Individuals who study it as a second language have a low motivation as well as the poor mindset that undercut their capacity to achieve professional standards. Furthermore, the relevancy of their needs is not immediate. As such, they pay less attention to the subject. In fact, they dedicate their effort to the getting of the minimum proficiency required to be carried on to the next stage. Due to the misperception, they only need to memorize rules in grammar, written English passages, and vocabularies. The research drew conclusions that students from Saudi basic schools are deficient in intrinsic motivation, which is necessary to be overcome while having initial challenges (Al-Mahrooqi & Denman, 2015).
Abdan (2011) emphasizes that students from Saudi elementary school overlook the significance of English comprehension as they do not use the purpose beyond the classroom. In addition, they find no substantial reason or opportunity to use the language in a daily routine, since Arabic provides the primary communications platform. As a result, students do not use English in social, communicative, and other situations. Additionally, several learners are convinced that the subject bores, and what is more, is beyond their reach. They consider it as an instrument which becomes necessary only when an examination period is coming around. Under those circumstances, there is the reduction of interaction between the learners in the classroom as the trainer’s intentions are is limited due to the different levels of English.
On the same note, Shehdeh (2010) contends that the use of the language in basic communication makes candidates feel ineffectual and powerless to reach the desired outcome, which is treated as adeptness. The researcher blames some of the classroom difficulties on the concepts of teaching. He claims that the students’ immediate environments such as relatives, teachers, peers, and administrators create a pessimistic influence on the continuation of the study process of the English language. They create language anxiety that in its turn make students panic. Several potential scholars refrain from the course because they have a misguided belief that it could be too challenging for them to cope with.
According to AL-Zahrani (2008), a research, involving on a number of students, highlights that if the learners are given an option, they would not pick the subject. The author further maintains that such preferences depict the difficulties and fear that Saudi Students experience in the class. He also asserts that weak support systems and lack of encouragement from parents result into a low desire to take the course in elementary institutions (AL-Zahrani, 2008).
Another significant problem that elementary school students deal with in the lessons is the curriculum constraints in the Saudi Arabian educational system. If a person studies the issue thoroughly, he would definitely notice the hindrances in the methods that are recommended for teaching the course; these are inadequate instruction of time, lack of resources to learn the subject, and inflexible methods of instructional approaches. The program allows elementary students to have only 90 minute of active English communications per week. Since the syllabus training has a high expectation to the subject, more time should be allocated for the lessons. Most students are exposed to the foreign language during class hours, and no adequate reinforcement environment exists outside the school. Saudis give preference to their native language while communicating at home with peers, classmates and friends. Therefore, there are slim chances for an individual to master the language through the daily interactions (Shah, Hussain & Nassef, 2013).
Additionally, Shah et al. (2013) dispute that the large number of students, being enrolled in a given class, approximately from 40 to 50, do not provide ample time and equal opportunity for everyone to practice the English language. Currently, the most pupils rarely talk alive. Besides, they receive little exposure to situations that facilitate its practical application. As a result, the conditions lead to poor performance in the teaching-learning activities taken as a whole. Furthermore, teachers find it hard to cover the course effectively as well as provide personal assistance to everyone because of the crowding in the classrooms and time limits. . Several scientists report that teachers in Saudi Arabia do not make any follow up of student’s works or even monitor their improvement. The teaching methods do not oblige instructors to revise students’ works or modify them. Moreover, they give written instructions to learners instead of verbal communications, which promise better outcome of the students.
The other aspect that affects adversely the process of teaching and learning the subject is pedagogical controls, which include insufficient instructor’s preparation of programs and instruction provision methods (Shah et al., 2013).
Shehdeh (2010) points out inadequate learning materials as other critical obstruction to the realization of the goal. Many facilities have inappropriate resources to impart the desired knowledge. Examples of such requirements include audio and visual aids, posters and wall charts, e-learning resources and other facilities.
According to Shehdeh (2010), resources, found in these classrooms, are either outdated or have a poor condition and a low quality to match those sources of information that are present in the textbook. Consequently, unavailability of appropriate teaching resources have various negative impacts including insufficient exposure of students to real reading and listening activities, thus lowers their interest in the subject. Furthermore, Saudi Arabian elementary schools fail to use global measures in assessing qualified English teachers (Shehdeh, 2010).
Furthermore, administration bottlenecks also challenge the curriculum in the Kingdom. The major categories include centralization of the limitation, lack of cooperation, and absence of a comprehensive strategic plan for English as for the first language (EFL). The ministry of education is responsible for creating the training schedule. Instructors, at all levels, use an identical syllabus with fixed guidelines and deadlines. Therefore, tutors practice teaching methods, learning objectives, and the scope in the form. The centralization is a huge impediment for the course administrators since educators have less sovereignty and can only edify within the recommended boundaries.
Shehdeh (2010), points out that efficient cooperation and teamwork between supervisors and other reputable EFL, could be fruitful, so that the didactic centers should be established. As such, potential coaches lack practical knowledge in the professional field. The experts are significant in the education program because they play a guide role in the teaching process. . Therefore, lack of well-qualified governesses lowers the standard of education substantially.
Finally, the curriculum in Saudi Arabia lacks a national comprehensive strategic plan that is compatible with macro-national development targets. A well-organized arrangement that contains a detailed standard of each entrant helps to attain its goals. As a result, the void creates a mismatch between the EFL goals and methods.
Significance of the Research
After identifying the problems of the study both students and teachers would face the progress in the right direction. The research work makes them aware of the identification, analysis, and the suggestions concerning curriculum reforms. Besides, the concerned parties will establish the mandatory resources to augment the course in elementary schools, thus the promoting of the country’s capability towards engaging it in the international community sphere would increase.
The work aims to answer the major question:
What are the primary problems that elementary school students experience when learning English in Saudi Arabia?
Specifically, 30 students in elementary schools and ten teachers will participate in the examination. The investigation will utilize both qualitative and quantitative approaches to analyses the students’ competency. It will also evaluate the pedagogical strategies the lectors use to inculcate teaching reading skills on them. Both participants will be asked to fill an open-ended questionnaire that is crucial for the data collection.
Firstly, I will explain the objectives and intentions of the exploration to the partakers. I will emphasize the fact that participation is voluntary. Besides, I will advocate honesty and request consent in advance to use the gathered information in order to demonstrate the solution of the problem.
Limitation of the Study
The main impediment to the investigation is time management. Consequently, the same period of time will be used to access both teachers and students in order to interview them successively interviewed.
Once the research is completed, I expect a significant improvement of the counter towards the main constraints: curriculum aspects, students’ beliefs, administrative and pedagogy limitations.
In light of these findings, English partakers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia face diverse language challenges that discourage them. Past analyses just made a statement concerning the present gap in the education system of the country, particularly in the foreign languages. In such a case, teachers can strive to make developments and capitalize on motivating their students to learn the subject, which is straightforward and quickly achievable. In any way, one would realize that the language is valuable everywhere, especially in the labor market. Therefore, class entrants must know that they would gain an added benefits compared to their colleagues. Secondly, teachers should foster a suitable environment, necessary for making mentees feel comfortable and open-minded towards new information. On the other hand, the administrators should provide opportunities for English teachers to utilize the available resources. All these could play for the improvement of the foreign language education in the Kingdom.
Abdan, A. A. (2011). An exploratory study of teaching English in the Saudi elementary public schools system. Science Direct 19(3), 253-266. doi:10.1016/0346-251X(91)90050-Y
Al-Mahrooqi, R., & Denman, C. (2015). Issues in English education in the Arab world. Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Al-Omrani, A. H. (2008). Perceptions and attitudes of Saudi ESL and EFL students toward native and nonnative English-speaking teachers. Indianapolis, IN: University of Pennsylvania.
Shah, S., Hussain, M., & Nassef, O. (2013). Factors impacting EFL teaching: An exploratory study in the Saudi Arabian context. Arab World English Journal 4(3), 104-123.
Shehdeh, F. S. (2010). Challenges of teaching English in the Arab world: Why can’t EFL programs deliver as expected? Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2), 3600-3604.