Adescriptive study on the experience, attitudes and perceptions ofEnglish majors in Taibah University towards current TESLmethodologies applied by their teachers.
Resultsfrom previous studies on second/foreign language learning both in KSAand other non-Anglophone countries indicate that language learningstrategies play an influential role in the process of languagelearning. The perception towards these strategies/methods and theirfunctioning in achieving the objectives of EFL learning vary widelyand are influenced by numerous factors. This current research makesan attempt to present a synthesis of research results on attitudesand perceptions of English majors at Taibah University towardsEFL/ESL teaching methods /styles/strategies employed by theirteachers. Data from a sample of 20 participants was collected throughquestionnaires that used largely formalized and standardizedquestions to find their views. Data was analyzed through thematicanalysis to find recurring themes from the responses. Resultsindicate that learners are largely opposed to strategies thatprimarily recommended for use in EFL learning thereby highlight ageneral negative attitude towards EFL learning strategies employedthe institution.
Iam sincerely grateful to ………, my supervisor and mentor in thisproject for his/her unending support, guidance and encouragementthroughout all the stages of this project.
EFL English as a foreign language
ESL English as a second language
L1 First Language
L2 Second language
LLS language learning strategies
KSA Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
TEFL Teaching English as a foreign Language
TESL Teaching English as a second language
TESOL Teaching English to speakers of other languages
Table of Contents
1.0 Introduction 9
1.1 Background 10
1.1.1 The country 10
1.1.2 Background of English learning and teaching in KSA 12
1.1.3 Place of English in the Saudi Higher education system 14
1.1.4 Saudi English teaching system 14
1.2 Challenges facing ESL teaching and learning 16
2.0 Research plan 17
2.1 Research questions 17
2.2.0 Research purpose 17
2.2 Significance of the study 18
3.0 Literature review 19
3.1 Introduction 19
3.2 EFL methods 19
3.2.1 Grammar Translation 20
3.2.2 Direct Method 23
3.2.3 Audio-lingualism 25
3.2.4 Humanistic Approaches 25
3.2.5 Communicative Language Teaching 27
3.2.6 Principled Eclecticism 28
3.2.7 Other methods 29
3.3 Language learning styles 29
3.4 Language learning strategies 29
3.4.1 O’Malley’s (1985) classification of LLS 30
3.4.2 Rubin’s (1987) classification of LLS 31
3.4.3 Oxford`s (1990) classification of Language Learning Strategies 32
3.4.4 Stern`s (1992) Classification of Language Learning Strategies 34
3.5 Past primary studies 34
3.6 Summary 42
4.0 Method 43
4.1 Study design 43
4.2 Methodology 43
4.3 Instrumentation 44
4.4 Informed Consent 45
4.5 Authorization and ethical considerations 46
4.6 Sampling 46
4.7 Participants 47
4.8 Research settings 47
4.9 Research limitations 48
5.0 Results and discussion 49
5.1 Summary 59
6.0 Findings and recommendations 60
7.0 Conclusion 61
There are about one million students enrolled inSaudi universities and colleges (Saudi Embassy 2015). Most of thesestudents have undergone several years of learning English inelementary and secondary schools. Some may choose to study English asa major or minor at the university level. Others may seek to pursuehigher learning abroad with majority of them ending up in the US,Australia or UK where English is the official language. Studying inthe west is also coupled with the expected proficiency in Englishlanguage and a foreign accent which is viewed as a prestigious skillthat can lead to better paying jobs (Moskovsky & Alrabai, 2009).The West’s sociocultural environment and better quality educationin those countries are the main motivators for studying abroad(Al-Seghayer, 2012). Bonus perks to studying abroad are increasedemployability and social prestige. This huge demand for Englishproficiency emanates from the establishment of English as the soleinternational language with 85% of global organizations using Englishas the official language as well as 90% of online content being inEnglish (Al-Jarf, 2008).
Such dominance by the English language whosenative speakers are comparatively few has driven many non-Anglophonecountries to introduce English language as a subject at variouslevels of schooling. Same as KSA, non-native English learners haveopted to immigrate to English-speaking countries to improve theirproficiency in English not just through classroom learning but alsothrough interacting with native speakers of the language (Al-Jarf,2008). As a subject and a language, the approach to teaching Englishis largely different to other teaching methods applied in othersubjects. However, competence and proficiency in the language islargely dependent on the teaching methods used in imparting knowledgeand skills in the language. Academic performance in other subjectsmay not necessarily provide an accurate prediction in performance ina language. Furthermore, enthusiasm and investment in languagelearning may n tiled desired results at all times. Abdellah (2012)for instance notes that reading achievement among Saudi Englishmajors has been reported to be of low quality despite the governmentinvesting a lot towards English language proficiency among itscitizenry.
As a matter of fact, L2 proficiency is largelyinfluenced by the L2 teaching methods. Teaching methods may vary byinstructor choice, curriculum and teacher skills in applying themethods. The majority of Saudi ESL learners in secondary andsometimes universities learn the language through unreliable methodssuch as memorizing phrase which they do not understand (Moskovsky &Alrabai, 2009). Nonetheless, following pedagogical and curriculumchanges n the country, new and modern EFL methods are being used.These methods alone cannot guarantee EFL learning and teachingsuccess. The application of the method, motivation towardsteaching/learning EFL and even the attitudes that both learners andteachers have towards these methods also play a critical role.
1.1 Background 1.1.1 The country
Saudi Arabia, which was established as a republicis 1932, is the world’s leading oil producer. This has made thecountry a key player in global economic and geopolitical affairs. Itsvast natural resources deposits and its growing geopoliticalinfluence in the region have seen the country host thousands offoreign expatriates largely from western countries. Consequently,English as a language has grown in popularity and use in the countryand more so in organizations that interact frequently withexpatriates. In fact, English is the second most commonly usedlanguage in the country, although it is not officially recognized asa second language (Al-Jarf, 2008). The growth in English has grown inuse and popularity through support by Article 50 of the EducationalPolicy in the KSA, which states that students should learn at leastone foreign language to increase their competence in relating withspeakers of other languages (Al-Seghayer, 2012). This is one of thenew ways that English is spreading from its parent country, Britain.
Conversely, the majority of non-native Englishspeaking countries around the world such as the USA, Canada, NewZealand, Australia and several African countries came to adoptEnglish through colonization. Some of these colonizers settled inthese countries and set out to assimilate and indoctrinate thenatives to their own culture and language. However, KSA has neverbeen colonized by Britain. In the countries that British explorersvisited, they desired to actively spread English and their culture toincrease their global dominance through trade and occupation. Such anapproach was not always perceived well as many traditional societiessuch as the native Indians of Canada resisted (Larsen-Freeman, 2000).At that time, basic translation of common words and phrases regularlyused such as greetings was used (Ahmed, Yassatorn & Yossiri,2012). Today, the situation is very different. Non-Anglophonecountries are encouraging their people to learn English voluntarilyfor their own good. Therefore, the growing popularity of English inthe KSA is largely influenced by business prospects and governmentpolicy.
Interestingly,the same government is wary of over-dominance of English in thecountry which may be crowding out Arabic. A 2012 directive from theInterior Ministry instructed all government departments and privateagencies to abandon some western/English related practices. Forinstance, front office staffs at major government facilities andhotels were instructed to answer telephones in Arabic as opposed toEnglish. Further, all government and private agencies were requiredto shun the Gregorian/English calendar in favour of the Arabic Hijricalendar (Saudi Arabia bans, 2012). This clearly demonstrates thatwhile the government is aware of the importance of English to thenation, the same government is concerned that English as a languageis being used a cultural vehicle for western ideas that are basicallycontrary to conservative Islamic teachings and culture.
With that said, teaching experts and linguists allagree that gaining L2 proficiency requires proficiency in the cultureof target language speakers. Culture comes in handy in that learnersget to apply the language in a cultural context as intended giventhat language is a part and parcel culture (Larsen-Freeman, 2000).Empirical observations would also reveal that non-native Englishlearners who school in western countries where they study thelanguage in its cultural context are better placed in theirproficiency than those who school in KSA. In the case of governmentpolicies in KSA, there is conflict on the intended role of English asa foreign language. To start with, the government is eager to curtailincreased use of English in business circles inside KSA which iscrowding out Arabic. Secondly, English has no legal recognition as asecond language in the country despite the growing percentage of thepopulation that speaks it and the language being offered inelementary schools.
1.1.2 Background of English learning and teaching in KSA
English was introduced into the Saudi Arabiansociety by the Saudi government. After the establishment of theDirectorate of Education in 1923, before, the kingdom was formed in1932, English was introduced as foreign language alongside Frenchinto the Saudi Arabian educational system in 1927. The language wasregistered as a subject at the secondary school level with nodefinite learning objectives identified. With the establishment ofthe intermediate level, specific instructional objectives and syllabifor English language were established. This was later to bereplicated in secondary schools. With education being fully funded bythe government, it was seen as a direct government effort to increasethe number of English speaking locals (Al-Seghayer, 2005). This wasin recognition of English as a world language.
In a number of books and models exploring thespread of English around the world, the term ‘Englishes’ iscommon (Bolton, 2006 McKenzie, 2010). This plural term is used inthe belief that there are various types of the English language.Bolton (2008) indicates that the term Englishes recognizes theexistence of functional and formal variation in the language, and itsinternational acculturation, for example in KSA. Using this logictherefore, it can be argued that there exists Saudi Arabian Englishor Gulf English in respect to acculturation and localization of thelanguage. One renowned expert in sociolinguistics, Pico Iyer (1983)indicated “there is not one English language anymore, but there aremany English languages….each of these Englishes is creating its ownvery special literature, which, because it doesn’t feel oppressedby the immensely influential literary tradition in England is somehowfreer” (cited in Bolton, 2006, p. 369) Such a language thereforebelongs to the people who use it as their first language and thosewho use it as an additional language, whether in localized ofstandard form. Bolton further explores this issue to cite Llazmon(1983) who says that the new varieties of English as identifiablewith four essential sets of features: ecological, historical,sociolinguistic and cultural.
For over 70 years since the introduction ofEnglish Language in the Saudi Arabian education system, the Englishlanguage curriculum has evolved in various ways. The initialcurriculum developed in the country was made with assistance fromforeign expatriates and teachers guided by particular curriculumdevelopment model. A curriculum aimed at streamlining the acquisitionof the language by learners. Stenhouse (1975, p. 4) definescurriculum as “an attempt to communicate the essential principlesand features of an educational proposal in such a form that it isopen to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation intopractice” (cited in Pring, 2004, p. 124). True to the word, the KSAEnglish language curriculum has been critiqued by various sources.One of the core accusations is that the English taught in SaudiArabian schools is not useful beyond the classroom. For this reason,a number of evaluations and changes have been made to meet currentneeds.
1.1.3 Place of English in the Saudi Higher education system
As aforementioned, majority of students in KSApursue English major to increase their skills level and land betterpaying jobs. The larger government policy higher education has widertargets for inclusion in English in the curriculum. The HigherCommittee for Educational Policy cited in Rahman and Alhaisoni (2013,p. 112) stated that the core purposes of education of education inKSA are:
To have the student understand Islam in a correct and comprehensive manner.
To plant and spread the Islamic creed, and to furnish the student with the values, teachings, and ideals of Islam.
To equip him with various skills and knowledge, and to develop his conduct in constructive directions.
To develop the society economically, socially, and culturally, and to prepare the individual to become a useful member in the building of his community.
1.1.4 Saudi English teaching system
As aforementioned in the previous chapter, Englishhas evolved into a global language. Non English speaking countries,KSA included have joined the clamor to learn English to increasetheir involvement in global affairs. In so doing, teaching of Englishas a second of foreign language has gained momentum. Policy makersand sociologists have developed several theories that attempt toexplain the alignment of nations based on their economies, labour,people and language among others. The Immanuel Wallerstein worldsystem theory is one such theory that has been applied to explain theplace and role of English in KSA that would affect the teachingmethods used.
The education system is also subject to the Saudicultural, social and political environment. While many westernnations religious freedom is widely practiced, this is not the casein KSA. Islam as a religion and a way of life plays a dominant rolein the education system. The Sharia law which guides the country isalso applied in the education sectors. Gender separation is a keydifferent between western education and KSA education. Except in afew cases, learners of different genders are not allowed to mix andinteract in school even though they pursue the same syllabus.Additionally, male teachers are not allowed in learning institutionsof females and vice versa. This has a huge impact in the learningprocess. Nonetheless, to the Islam culture, mixing of genders isunacceptable and it intended to protect the different sex from sexualthoughts and desires which are perceived to be evil and distracting.
This approach to the education system has deniedlearners great opportunities to benefit from gender interactions.Additionally learning institutions are progressively required to begender discriminatory in hiring. This kind of system not only deniesthe education system the diversity that it requires in thoughtdevelopment but also denies some learning institution access to someof the best and most qualified instructors in EFL and other courses.For instance, it is notable that in the western countries, femaleteachers are more concentrated in languages, humanities and socialsciences as opposed to sciences. This could imply that females allover the world dominate TEFL and thus male university may faceunprecedented difficulties in landing qualified male EFL teachers inthe advanced level.
1.2 Challenges facing ESL teaching and learning
AlthoughKSA has made considerable progress in western education and more soin EFL learning, there are key challenges that continue to face thecountry. Some of the challenges are country-specific, policy orientedand others and driven by context. All these challenges are likely toimpact the teaching methodologies that can be applied in the country.They include:
Improperly trained teachers or inadequate teaching methodology.
Teacher-centred rather than learner-centred activities.
Students’ aptitude, initial preparedness and motivation: School and university teachers often complain of the low proficiency of their students. They also claim that students are not motivated to learn.
Compartmentalization vs. whole language approach.
Lack of emphasis on developing skills– emphasis is rather on rote learning.
Textbooks and teaching materials are largely based on western culture
Assessment methods are poor
Lack of exposure to English
2.0 Research plan
Thissection illustrates the elaborate plans that the researcher made inpreparing for this study and notably collecting data from the field.To do this, the researcher was guided by the institution’s Graduatestudent’s expectations and the study’s purpose which is to gain aunderstanding of the perception of Saudi English majors at TaibahUniversity.
2.1 Research questions
What are the students’ perceptions and attitudes towards the current EFL methods being used?
Are Saudi university students satisfied with the EFL teaching methods currently used?
How significant are EFL teaching methods in determining the proficiency of students in EFL.
2.2.0 Research purpose
The purpose of this research is to ascertainwhether Saudi university EFL majors are satisfied with the currentEFL learning strategies and methods and how they perceive themagainst the standard expectations of these methods and strategies aspresented by the literature review.
This research initiative involves a complexprocess that involves sourcing, collecting and analyzing data that isnot specifically designed to answer research questions unless wellinterpreted. Therefore, the research will collect, analyze andinterpret guided by a broad set of questions organized into researchobjectives listed as below:
To find out the most prevalent LLSP (Language Learning Style Preference) among Saudi university students that are studying English major
Identify the most prevalent strategies for vocabulary learning that the Saudi students use in comprehension
To investigate whether there is a link between the use of vocabulary learning strategies and the performance of the students in writing
2.2 Significance of the study
The study seeks to explore how Saudi universitystudents majoring in English relate with the current TESOLmethodologies being employed by their teachers/lecturers/instructors.The findings will be descriptive in nature and will give an in-depthview of how learners perceive and relate to these teachingmethodologies. The study will be helpful to individual teachers,curriculum designers, teacher training institutions and trainers, andpolicy makers on existing teaching constraints faced by the EFLteachers in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, it will raise pedagogicalunderstanding by guiding less experienced teachers especially new tothe culture and context of teaching in KSA to reflect on theirteaching practices and existing methodologies. For prospective EFLteachers, the study will assist them in developing adaptive skills inthe case of teaching English majors in KSA.
3.0 Literature review3.1 Introduction
This section of the dissertation reviews relevantliterature on EFL learning methods/styles/strategies as well asprevious studies on the subject and information on the effective EFLteaching practices and methodologies. After reviewing the theory onthe strategies and styles, the paper then previous studies whereprimary studies are given precedence while other peer reviewedjournal articles, conference proceedings, and relevant literature arealso utilized to provide a concrete picture of existing informationon the subject. Primary research studies that address EFL teachingand learning in the Saudi higher education context were preferred asopposed to EFL teaching method studies from other countries in orderto factor in the issue of context. Web-based databases such asEBSCOHOST were utilized in searching of the relevant materials. Theresearcher further restricted the primary studies to those not olderthan ten years.
3.2 EFL methods
Borrowing largely from research there are severaldistinct methods of teaching L2 that have emerged. They include:
Communicative Language Teaching, and
3.2.1 Grammar Translation
This is also called the classical method. It isone of the earliest TESOL methodologies applied widely around theworld. In fact, the name classical method originated from the use ofthe method in teaching classical languages Latin and Greek(Larsen-Freeman, 2000). Initially, themethod was applied with the intention of allowing students learn thegrammar of their native language by learning the grammar rules of aforeign language. This was mainly because natives or target studentsdid not have reading and writing skills or ways to grammar rules toformalize their language. It was therefore thought that by learninggrammar rules of a foreign language (target language), they would bebetter placed to apply grammar rules in their native language. Forthis reason, the method was criticized by early scholars such asRouse (1925) who termed it as a method through which “to knoweverything about something rather than the thing itself” (cited inRichards & Rodgers, p. 6).
After such criticism, the intentions of methodwere changed. The new goal of teaching foreign languages using themethod was adopted as to improve learners intellectually(Larsen-Freeman, 2000). However, this was also problematic becausethe method was not created by the originators to serve in theclassroom environment. Howatt & Widdowson (2004) indicate thatprior to the 19thcentury, foreign language learning was a preserve of adult scholars.Furthermore, the method was best suited for self-study situations butnot for use by instructors. In spite of the issues raised, the methodcontinues to be applied today given that it can be used to achievesome goals of EFL.
22.214.171.124Goals/objectives of grammar translation
Richards and Rodgers (2014, p. 6-7) andLarsen-Freeman (2000, p. 15-17) identified a set of principles toguide it or objectives that the methodology seeks to achieve assummarized below:
Learn a target language in order to read its literature and benefit from the mental discipline and intellectual development that result from the content that the literature carries. Therefore, the FL language to be learned as not an end in itself. The learner studies the FL rules, learns to apply the rules in order to translate sentences in and out of the target language. In so doing, L1 is maintained as a reference system in acquisition of the FL.
Achieve knowledge in reading and writing in the Fl as opposed to speaking and listening in the FL
Proficiency in the target language is guided by a prescribed set of words and vocabulary as provided for by readings texts. This way, grammar rules can be easily presented and illustrated.
Proficiency in learning language is based on the capability to translate sentences in and out of the target language. Therefore, instructors focus on the ability to construct and translate sentences in and out of target language.
There is high emphasis on meticulous standards of accuracy and intrinsic moral value.
Grammar is taught in a systemic sequence in a deductive manner. This means learners are taught sets of progressive grammar rules which they learn to apply them bit by bit.
L1 is used as the language of instruction.
Memory plays an integral role in memorizing grammar rules.
Attention between the similarities of L1 and L2 in grammar and sentence formation is given attention to facilitate learning L2.
The method assumes that it is possible to find L1 equivalents of L2 vocabulary.
An effective way for application of grammar and sentence structure
Few demands on teachers
Least stressful for students as explanation provided using L1 are easily understood.
Comprehension of student can be tested on demand and very easily
Learning is clearer and firmer when carried out through L2 comparison with the mother tongue.
Wrong idea of what language entails
Does not induce learners’ motivation
Create frustration for learners
Takes an unnatural pathway to learning a new language where reading and writing come first before speaking and listening
Translation is always approximated hence accuracy of learning is hindered
Leads to learners thinking in L1 instead of L2 which slows down L2 competence and poor and inaccurate translations.
Does not address learning of correct pronunciations
3.2.2 Direct Method
Just like the grammar translation method, thedirect method has been around for many years. The only differencebeing that the direct method was developed to correct theinefficiencies of the former, specifically in addressing speaking andlistening skills in the target language. The method obtains it namefrom the fact that meaning of words in target language is conveyeddirectly without translation or recourse to L1. The meaning of wordsis conveyed in any format such as demonstrations, visual aids, andillustrations but not through translation. In fact, no translation isallowed whatsoever under this methodology (Larsen-Freeman, 2000).
Nonetheless, language experts are opposed to theconsideration of the direct approach as a language teachingmethodology. Prof. Gurrey notes that
It is essentially a principle, not teachingmethod, a system that operates through many methods a way ofhandling the new language and of presenting to the class. It dependson direct bond, that is, a direct association, between word and thingand between sentence and idea instead of an indirect one through themother tongue (cited in Elizabeth, 2010, p. 54)
Anothercriticism levelled against the methodology pertains to the assumptionthat the method takes towards acquisition of L2. The method assumesthat L2 acquisition follows the same path that a baby takes towardsacquisition of L1 in the early stages of development. Ideally, babiesdo not have any idea of the mother tongue but learn with time as itis used with visual aids and demonstrations In so doing, the methodassumes that L2 learners are blank pages and the role of theirexperiences, culture and L1 in learning and interpreting new languagedo not count (Smith 2005, p. 194).
126.96.36.199Principles and objectives
L1 should never be used in the classroom.
The immediate environment such as desks, doors, books, cars, windows and the school at large should be used to convey meaning in L2. This allows students to make mental associations between L2 and meaning which last longer than translations.
Students are encouraged to think in L2
Pronunciations are emphasized from day one and self-correction is highly encouraged.
Grammar rules are taught inductively as opposed to strict grammar rules.
Syllabus or curriculum is based on situations and not linguistic rules and structures.
Learning L2 also requires learning the culture and lifestyle of L2 speakers.
Encourage and motivates spontaneous use of L2.
Lays huge emphasis on speech and pronunciation skills
Makes it fun and interesting to learn L2
Focuses on meaning not the rules.
Low interest among teachers because it requires extra input
Ignores written work & reading activities
Not suited for large classes
Costly to practice
This is one the recent methodologies specificallydeveloped to address the shortcomings of the past methods. Thedevelopment of the method was spearheaded by Charles Froes from theUniversity of Michigan and thus the method has sometimes been namedthe Michigan Method. What sets this method apart from itspredecessors is the fact that the method does not seek to teach L2through exposure to situations or seek to use translation but ratheris founded on “strong theoretical base in linguistics andpsychology” (Larsen-Freeman, 2000 p. 35). The psychology element ofthe theory was borrowed from Skinner’s (1957) work on thebehavioural conditioning theory that identified language learning andsentence structures as some things that can be learned throughconditioning which involved exposing learners to stimuli and shapingand reinforcing behaviour (cited in Larsen-Freeman, 2000).
188.8.131.52Principles and objectives
The use of L1 for any purpose in the classroom is not allowed
Repetition and consistency are used in shaping and reinforcing behaviour
Inflection is often applied in order to understand the meaning of phrases and verbs when put in context.
Restatement is used in teaching pronunciation where all learners are expected to ape the teacher in the pronunciation and accent.
No explicit grammatical rules are taught but learners are expected to grasp them anyway.
3.2.4 Humanistic Approaches
The term refers to a range of holistic methodsapplied in language learning. The most common and often used is theperson-centred education. This type of learning is informed byhumanistic psychologists led by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rodgers(Larsen-Freeman, 2000). These psychologists believed that learnershave different needs and that the relationship between the teacherand learner impacts the learning process. Although this approach islargely applied in psychotherapy where a therapist is required toshow empathy and care as well as place him/herself in the shoes ofthe client, it is relevant in L2 teaching whether the teacher engagesthe learner as a whole. In this case, learning entails developing alearner’s self esteem, motivation and the ability to be focused andfully autonomous in learning (Ganza 2008).
As a behavioural issue, learner autonomy is theprocess by which learners and teachers develop systematic strategiesto assist their independence in their learning. From a humanisticpoint of view, learner autonomy is the notion of learners‘self-direction’ and ‘self-initiation’ of their learning bothinside and outside the classroom as part and parcel ofexperimentation and discovery. From a political perspective, learnerautonomy is perceived as the notion of learners taking control oftheir learning by owning up the whole process. From a progressiveliberal background, learner autonomy is the idea of learners takingresponsibility for their learning (Ganza, 2008).
Therefore, it emerges that learner autonomy is akey pillar is the humanistic approaches. Although the traditionaleducation system in KSA has shunned this method, there is new impetusto drive learner autonomy and approach learning from a humanisticapproach. In that regard, there is need to better understand whatlearner autonomy given that Ganza (2008) warns that the approach iseasily misunderstood which can lead to poor application. One of themost widely used and earliest definition was provided by DavidLittle’s (1991) who said:
Autonomy is a capacity-for detachment, criticalreflection, decision making, and independent action. It presupposes,but also entails, that the learner will develop a particular kind ofpsychological relation to the process and content of his learning.The capacity for autonomy will be displayed both in the way learnerslearns and in the way he or she transfers what has been learned towider contexts (cited in Schwienhorst 2012, p. 12).
184.108.40.206Principles and objectives
Emphasizes on holism: the need to study the whole person.
Focuses on the unobservable private mental world of an individual.
Emphasizes the "natural desire" of everyone to learn
Focuses on the hidden internal experiences and emphasis the role of feelings must be incorporated into the learning experience
They maintain that learners need to be empowered and to have control over the learning process.
So the teacher relinquishes a great deal of authority and becomes a facilitator.
Learning which influences behaviour is self-discovered and self- appropriated.
Learnt experiences are relatively inconsequential and does not influence behaviour
According to Brown (2007),the benefits of this approach include improved quality of languagelearning, promotion of democratic societies, enhanced preparedness ofindividuals for life-long learning, and better utilization oflearning opportunities in and out of classrooms
3.2.5 Communicative Language Teaching
This is another modern standard method used inlanguage teaching. The method was developed in the 1970’s and 1980sfuelled by the integration of Europe which put together manycountries with different languages in a common trade and politicalgrouping. The method was developed based on the notion that theprimary function of language is communication. Therefore, the methodis intended and designed to improve communicative ability. In thisregard, it seeks to enable learners gain communicative competence inthe real-life situations and not just the classroom scenario(Richards & Rodgers, 2001).
However, for many people and for many situations,communications means different things. This is given the fact thatthere are numerous ways of communicating such as oral, written,non-verbal and gestures. Brandl (2008, p. 5) borrows from severalauthors to define communicative competence as “the the ability tointerpret and enact appropriate social behaviours, and it requiresthe active involvement of the learner in the production of the targetlanguage.” When this definition in applied in the TESL context, itbecomes clear to see that this methodology strongly advocates forteaching of foreign languages within the native speakers culture. ForSaudi EFL learners, there is need to learn English as a language andalso the mannerisms and culture of the native speakers of thelanguage because some meanings of some words only retain theirmeaning within their intended and native socio-cultural context.
3.2.6 Principled Eclecticism
This method was developed in the 20thcentury buoyed by the need of fitting the method to the learner, andnot the learner to the method. Accordingly, the theory holds thatthere is not a single FLT method that can sufficiently meet all theteaching and learning needs and hence teachers need a set ofprinciples to adapt their teaching procedures to specificcircumstances. Guided by these principles, eclecticism thus impliesthat teachers must blend various FLT methods to fit individual needsof learners and style preferences of teachers. However, this ideamust be guided by asset of principles. These principles are what givethe methodology the name ‘principled’. Other names that maybeused include successful eclecticism enlighten eclecticism,integrative eclecticism, new eclecticism, holistic approach etc.(Wali, 2009).
3.2.7 Other methods
There are several other language teachingmethodologies that have emerged over the years but have not gainedmuch popularity and have thus faded out. Most these methods have losttheir value due to their weaknesses or failure to addresspre-existing problems identified in earlier methods. Some of thesemethods include Total Physical Response (TPR), the Natural Approach,the Silent Way, or Suggestopedia (Richards & Rodgers 2014).
3.3 Language learning styles
According to Oxford, language learning styles aregeneral approaches but narrower than methods and broader thanstrategies. Accordingly, a learning style is a “biologically anddevelopmentally imposed set of characteristics that make the sameteaching method wonderful for some and terrible for others” (Dunn &Griggs, 1988, p.3 cited in Oxford, 1996). Therefore, learning stylesare assessed based on their sensory preferences, personality types,desires, degree of generality, and biological differences.
3.4 Language learning strategies
The methods discussed above are not as definite aslearning strategies and styles. Learning strategies are more specificcompared to methods and are defined as “specific actions,behaviours, steps, or techniques-such as seeking out conversationpartners, or giving oneself encouragement to tackle a difficultlanguage task- used by students to enhance their own learning”(Scarcella & Oxford, 1992, p.63). There are numerous learningstrategies that have been suggested by several researchers as newones continue to be developed. In fact, Zare (2012) places the numberof these strategies at 62. Researchers primarily develop their owntaxonomies and classify and categorize these strategies differentlybased on their research.
3.4.1 O’Malley’s (1985) classification of LLS
O’Malley (1985) and colleagues were among theearly researchers to delve into naming various L2 learning andteaching strategies. They categorised learning strategies into three:A. Metacognitive Strategies, B. Cognitive Strategies, and C.Socioaffective Strategies (cited in Zare, 2012).
O’Malley et al., (1985 cited in Zare, 2012)designated this term for strategies that involve planning forlearning, reflecting about the learning process, taking note of one’scomprehension, correcting mistakes, and evaluating the process. Thereare various ways through which these activities can be accomplished.For instance, evaluation of the earning process can be accomplishedthrough asking questions or requiring that learners answer questions.It must be noted that this process applies both to learners andteachers (Brown, 2007).
This group of strategies only address specificlearning tasks and entail more direct manipulation of the learningmatter itself. Key strategies that can be placed in this categoryinclude contextualization, elaboration, recombination, imagery,auditory representation, resourcing, translation (to and from targetlanguage), repetition (usually after the teacher), deduction, and keywords among others.
These strategies generally involve socialinteractions and relationships as learning environments. Thesestrategies oftentimes include social-mediating activities such asgroup sessions, group assignments and other cooperation activitieseither in the classroom or outside.
3.4.2 Rubin’s (1987) classification of LLS
Anotherclassification that is often use was developed just two years afterO’Malley et al. (1985) is by Rubin (1987). This latterclassification identified three core groups as A. LearningStrategies, B. Communication Strategies, and C. Social Strategies(Brown 2007).
This group of strategies contribute directly todevelopment of language system by the learners. Leaning of anewlanguage in this case is perceived as obtaining, storing,retrieving, and using of language. Under thisgroup, these are two subgroups: cognitive and metacognitivestrategies. Cognitive learning strategies are directly involved inthe learning process. They include Clarification / Verification,Guessing / Inductive Inferencing, Deductive Reasoning, Practice,Memorization, Monitoring. On the other hand, metacognitive strategiesare involved indirectly through supervision and directing thelanguage learning process. They include certain procedures such asplanning, prioritizing, setting goals, and self-management.
Communicationstrategies are not directly related t the learning process but ratherin facilitating the learning process. They place emphasis on thecommunication proves through conversation between teacher and learnerand ensure that meaning is relayed and clarifications where necessarycan be made. Ideally, communication strategies are necessary when alearners encounter problems in the learning process such as whenreviewing each other’s work.
Thesestrategies are not directly relating to learning enable exposelearners to situations and opportunities through which they canexercise and put into practice their knowledge. This way, they assessthe progress they are making. Good examples in this category areblogging, class forums, student commentaries, peer review etc.However, the diversity of these strategies vary with teachers’ andlearners creativity and availability of resources such as ITinfrastructure.
3.4.3 Oxford`s (1990) classification of Language Learning Strategies
Thisclassification has been named as one of the most inclusive. Oxfordidentified the main categories of strategies as: direct and indirect(Zare, 2012).
This group of strategies engage language learningdirectly via mental engagement. Under this category, there are threesubcategories: Memory, cognitive and compensation.
This subcategory involves, the mind is involved bystoring information in the memory and retrieving and applying it whenneed arises. This follows usually a set of actions namely creatingmental linkages to the language which are unique and distinct inevery individual, applying images and sounds to the learning process,reviewing well to ascertain that the right images are linked to theright learning process, and finally employing action which is thefinal product of language learning.
This subgroup involves conscious efforts made to handling the targetlanguage. For many learners, one is required to be creative enough todevelop unique ways that fit them to learn the language. Forinstance, flash cards may be used for practicing. Other thanpracticing, other subsets in this category include sending andreceiving messages and developing input and output structures forpersonal use.
This strategy is perhaps tricky and suits advanced learners as wellas beginners. It entails compensating for knowledge gaps in thelanguage. It can include intelligent guesses and practicing speakingand writing without much reference to text.
Indirect strategiesare categorized into three sets metacognitive, affective and socialstrategies.
This calls for learners to learn how to control their cognitiveprocesses by correctly linking stimuli with what is already known.For instance, organizing words, setting goals, planning, controllingvoice/sound production, self-monitoring and self-evaluations.
This strategies dealwith the psychological aspect of language learning such as attitudes,anxiety and even motivation towards learning.
3.4.4 Stern`s (1992) Classification of Language Learning Strategies
This classificationis also widely used and among the modern ones. This strategy was justa modification of Oxford`s (1990) albeit it added two newsubcategories interpersonal strategies and management and planningstrategies (cited in Zare 2012).
3.5 Past primary studies
The study by Liton (2013) set to exploreinstructors’ perceptions, evaluations and expectations about EFLcourses in Saudi universities. The study is relevant in the currentsubject in the sense that the perceptions, evaluations andexpectations about English affected the teaching methodologies usedby EFL teachers at all levels. A study Iranian RFL teachers andlearners showed that teachers believe that “the mastery of thetarget language, good knowledge of pedagogy, ability to apply diverseteaching methods and techniques as well as personality” make up agood EFL instructor (Shishavan & Sadeghi 2009, p. 130). On theother hand, EFL learners believe that an EFL instructor’spersonality and relationship with students are more important thanthe choice and application EFL teaching methodologies (ibid). Rahmanand Alhaison (2013) also indicate that the instructors’ perceptionstowards English and the expectations they have on learners influencethe choice of teaching methodologies applied by EFL instructors.
Therefore, Liton’s (2013) study which assessedthe perceptions and views of 25 randomly chosen EFL instructors inSaudi Arabia could explain the reasons behind the current methodsbeing used in Saudi universities. The study relied on questionnairesdistributed to participants chosen from renowned universities in thesouthern region of the country. In this region, there are two typesof English taught: for English major students and for non-Englishmajor students. The TEFL English major students focuses on“developing student language proficiency in advanced level” whichwould call for more intensive TEFL methodologies as opposed to TEFLfor non-English majors which focuses on equipping learners with a“relatively high level of competence in reading and an intermediatelevel of competence in listening, speaking, writing, and translating”(Liton, 2013, p. 24).
Following analysis of data collected, the findingsfrom the study proved very informative. On the question whether theinstructors thought an “EFL class will be task-based languageteaching (TBLT) practice,” 80% answered in the affirmative and 16%in the negative while 4% said they were not sure (Liton 2013, p. 25).On whether the instructors thought that the courses were welldesigned to meet the language needs of students, 60% said yes and 40%said no. again, 80% were in full support of use of English as thelanguage of instruction, 16% were in support of use of both Englishand Arabic while 4% suggested that Arabic should be gradually phasedout.
Intensity in terms ofEnglish courses offered in KSA has been criticized widely over itsshallowness, poor teaching methods and narrow courses among others(Al-Jarf 2008 Khresheh 2011). One of the question in Liton (2013)research study addressed this issue by asking respondents whetherthey felt that students needed more English credit courses or not andmajority of them (88%) indicated yes and only 12% indicated no.Another question asked the instructors to rank what should be thefocus of English. The results were “grammar 8% reading 8% writing4% vocabulary 44% listening 24%, and speaking 12%” (Liton 2013,p. 29). The answers to this question corroborates the views byAl-Jarf (2008) that science and technology courses in universityrequire an advanced level of English knowhow while some KSAuniversities seek to offer intermediate English proficiency coursesfor Saudi students majoring in these courses and in the processresults to poor performance in their majors because of half-baked EFLskills. Furthermore, the higher ranking of vocabulary as the mainfocus of English points to a poor focus of English which isreiterated by Fageeh (2011) who writes that some Saudi students whohave majored in English at the university level have poor skillsformation of grammatically correct sentences.
Liton and Madanat (2013) concluded his study bynoting that there is need to redesign pre-university English coursesand also to integrate university EFL courses with high school EFLcourses or existing EFL skills and knowledge. On EFL teachingmethodologies, the study suggested that the instructor-based methodsin TESL should be replaced with task based language teaching (TBLT)which is also similar to student-centred approach in teaching whichgives recognition to the socio-cultural context of learning Saudistudents. The context is important because in some cases, EFLteachers, students and course text books may have different socialand cultural contexts that make learning and teaching of EFLdifficult (Hall, 2011).
On a more specific research, Khresheh (2012) theexplored principled eclecticism as a methodology and the use ofArabic in Saudi EFL classrooms. The sample comprised of 94 studentsand 15 teachers (non-native speakers) from the University of Hail,KSA. A preliminary test in English was given to the participants andthe scores were used to group the participants into three distinctgroups beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each group was assigneda different book to study in a series of lessons. Thestudent-participants were required to attend classes offered byteachers in their group. During these lessons, observations were madeon when Arabic was used and the participants were subjected to aninterview to assess why Arabic was used in the EFL classes.
The interviewees revealed that English was usedfor many reasons. One of the common ones was that there was lack ofEnglish vocabulary to express certain actions or practices due tocultural variations. Another reason given by the advanced learnerswas that Arabic was used when participants were not satisfied withsome cultural meanings of some English worlds which contrast tolearners’ cultural values and do not exist in their culture.Another common issue that triggered the use of Arabic for 17beginners and five intermediate students was the need to explainsynonyms. The students could not understand well the existence ofcertain English words having more than one meaning, homonyms. Toexplain this required the teachers to use Arabic to explain toindividuals students who faced such difficulties (Khresheh, 2012)
Another primary study examined in the currentresearch is titled “Factors Impacting EFL Teaching: An ExploratoryStudy in the Saudi Arabian Context” by a groups three researchersexplored the factors that influence EFL teaching including EFLteaching methodologies in the Saudi context (Shah, Hussain &Nasseef 2013). The study which was exploratory in nature situated inan interpretive paradigm focused on qualitative parameters that arerelevant in constructing realities of EFL teachers in Saudiuniversities. The researchers employed semi-structured interviews tocollect data from a small sample of five non-native English speakingEFL teachers selected purposively. The teachers were required to havea minimum of four years RSL teaching experience in the Saudi context.
The results corroborated theories on the factorsthat shape teaching EFL that are grouped into four categoriessociocultural factors, learner motivation, institutional policies andteacher competence. It emerged that social cultural factors were amajor hindrance especially for non-Arab EFL teachers in KSA. Moreimportantly, the conservative nature and religious nature of Saudisociety affect the classroom environment the most. The society, asmany researchers have come to conclude places religion and Islamicculture at the centre of everything even in governance where theSharia law applies. For Non-Arab or foreign teachers, the need tounderstand the teaching and learning context under thesesociocultural values paramount. One respondent indicated that he hadbeen forced to bring down his beliefs on EFL teaching practices andbuild a new version altogether to fit in the Saudi socioculturalcontext. However, through experience, the teachers have learneddifferent ways to dilute the unfavourable impact their own socialcultural influence may have in the teaching context and adopted a newSaudi-based teaching approach.
Apart from the teachers’ issues, the societalbehaviour and attitude towards education is every different in KSA.The research identified and confirmed previous claims that the Saudishave a negative attitude towards education. The society does notvalue education and parents do very little to participate in theirchildren’s education. One participant lamented “From apsychological view, the actual value they are putting on education isminimal. I never received parents asking about the progress of theirkids or expressing their expectations of the child” (Shah, Hussain,& Nasseef, 2013, p. 113). The same negative attitude is evidentin learners whose main preferences and goals in learning English isto achieve good grades and certificate “with little attention onreal learning and academic growth” (ibid). The education policy inthe country that allows learners to repeat a particular grade if theyfail to achieve a certain grade also discourages learners. Oneparticipant claimed that “Teaching repeaters is just like bangingyour head against the wall. There is hardly any suitable methodologyfor such learners” (ibid p. 113). Other issues noted to hinder EFLteaching practice were long lessons of 80 minutes, poor timing oflessons, poor learning resources, poor teacher supervision practicesand student absenteeism.
Interestingly, all the teachers perceivedthemselves as fully competent in EFL teaching but undermined by theaforementioned challenges. The teacher noted that the place of EFL inKSA needs to change in order to address the aforementioned challengesthat will allow the instructors to employ a diverse range of teachingmethods and exploit their potential fully. The author thus concludedthat there is huge difference between learners and teachers on thelearning/teaching environment (Shah, Hussain, & Nasseef, 2013).
Similarly, Al-Kubaidi’s (2014) study of a sampleof female Saudi English majors university student’s writingperformance and their learning style revealed differences betweenteacher teaching styles and learners preferred teaching styles andstrategies. Seventy four undergraduate students in their final yearof their bachelors degree programme at King Abdulaziz Universityparticipated in the study by completing a set of two questionnaires.Results indicated that most female learners were auditory and grouplearners.
Technology has been widely employed in educationand in EFL teaching in various contexts with various institutions andcountries reporting varying progress and outcomes (McKenzie, 2010).Sun (2009) examined the use and efficiency of voice blogging amongChinese EFL learners. The study was identified the voice blogging asone of the key methods that technology can be adopted EFL with otherbeing identified by other scholars to include class forums, emails,voicemails, online chat rooms, student feedbacks online andparticipation in social media in the target language. SuchComputer-mediated communication (CMC) is slowly growing in popularityas online learning spreads globally to include teaching newlanguages. The use of CMC in EFL is largely praised as it allowslearners to take greater control of the learning process in line withthe call for student-centred learning that is widely recommended forcountries such as KSA that have in the past concentrated onteacher-centred learning.
Early scholars such as Tudor(1993) and Fotos and Browne, (2004 cited in Aljumah 2012) viewstudent-centred learning as the freedom in learning that giveslearners the space in making decisions that pertain to identifyingwhat ought to be taught in class. This differs strongly with thetraditional approach that viewed learners as an empty container to befilled with knowledge or a sponge that draws knowledge from theteacher. The teacher in this traditional format had the soleobligation in choosing the methodology to use in class regardless ofwhether the methodology achieved the desired goals or not.
However, studentcenteredness is not an EFL teaching methodology per se. It is anapproach that that insists on students playing an activeparticipatory role in the learning process. This means that theapproach can be adopted alongside other common EFL teaching modelssuch as direct method or audio-lingualism as the instructor desires.Therefore, Sun (2009) recognized this limitation in his study in thathe acknowledged that it was impossible to differentiate thecontribution of CMC alone as the methodologies alongside which theapproach was applied varied. However, some of the noted benefits ofadopting CMC in EFL are “ ability to encourage students to noticeand modify output content and structure, enhance motivation, reduceanxiety, foster learner autonomy, and promote cooperative learning”and also works best for shy students as the approach reduces“social-context clues such as gender, race, and status, andnonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language” thatmay hamper participation in class and the goals of EFL learning (Sun,2009, p. 88). Blogging also has many other advantages in that itallows continuation of learning the target language outside theclassroom context where learning occurs in the real world context andlearners can correct one another (Fageeh, 2011).
Aljumah (2012) also soughtto find out the perceptions and attitudes of Saudi EFL Majors atQassim University in KSA towards web-blogging as an approach tolearning EFL. A total of 35 students participated in the study anddata was collected through questionnaires. Participants were firstintroduced into the practice of blogging at one of the university’scomputer labs at the beginning of the semester. Throughout thesemester, learners were required to apply they had learned in theirEFL classes in the blog by writing a post of 150 words every week andalso responding to postings of 2-3 learners in a week. At the end ofthe semester, learners were required to complete the questionnairesmade up of closed and open-ended questions.
Results indicated that avery small percentage (5%) had prior experience in blogs thoughmajority of them had prior experience in the internet (88%), email(86%), chats (76%), and social networks (72%). Nearly allparticipants (91%) felt that blogging was fun and enjoyable whileanother 80% thought of it as not a waste of time (Aljumah, 2012).Majority of the student were also impressed with blogging works as itallowed them to post their assignments for comments before handingthem over. A small percentage also expressed disadvantage of blogssuch as the claim that peers posted rants and not actual helpfulcontent. Generally, results indicated that blogging was new enjoyableway of learning that breaks the monotony of 80 minutes lessons. Basedon these findings the researcher thus recommends the wide use ofblogging in EFL teaching alongside other established EFL teachingmethodologies.
Another study by Hamouda(2011) examined the students and teachers reference and attitudestowards correction of written errors in the classroom in the SaudiEFL contest. The study sampled 200 students from two EFLundergraduate classes in their preparatory year program at QassimUniversity. Another group of 20 non-native English speakinginstructors who taught in the preparatory year program with 3-10years experience in teaching EFL at the university level weresampled. A questionnaire comprising of two parts was distributed tothe participants. Part one comprised of closed questions dealing instudents and teacher preferences on written corrections and thesecond part had two open questions that explored the challengesteachers faced in providing feedback and the challenges that thelearners faced in making use of the feedback while revising. Again,there were two versions of the questionnaire one for students andone for the instructors. This design would largely complicatedresults.
In spite of this,comprehensible data was obtained from the study. All students andteachers preferred receiving feedback at more than one stage of thewriting process. About 20% of teachers do not prefer offeringfeedback at the early stages of writing 70% of learners dislikefeedback at the early stages of writing and specifically during thedrafting processing characterized by brainstorming (Hamouda 2011).
The literature reviewcaptured key elements teaching EFL. Apart from identifying thespecific methodologies developed by teaching EFL over time, thereview identified particular strategies and tactics that EFL teacherscan apply in the classroom within the given methodologies. The reviewon literature also enlightened the researcher in developing refiningquestions to specifically address the gap in knowledge. Based onthese views, the next section addresses the data collection process.
4.0 Method4.1 Study design
The new Saudi educationpolicy has enforced the use of English as the language of instructionin all science departments. This has played a major role inpopularizing English major as an option among university students.With English as the preferred language of research, science, commerceand education, higher levels of understanding English by majoring inEnglish is desired (Al-Jarf 2008). Compared to other non-Englishspeaking countries, Arab and Saudi English-major students faircomparatively poorer than other EFL from other countries. Researchershave pointed to poor methodologies used in the Saudi context(Al-Jarf, 2008 Al-Khairy 2013). The study is thus designed in mannerthat it seeks to explain why problems exist in studying and teachingamong Saudi university English majors.
The current study adopted anexploratory approach situated in the interpretive paradigm ofresearch. This yields a research design qualitative and focuses onthe subjective realities of the participants in regards to EFLteaching methodologies. The researcher is thus interested inexploring the perceptions, experiences, and multiple sociallyconstructed realities of EFL-majors in Taibah University in a KSA.While the EFL teaching methodologies maybe uniform globally, theexperiences that Saudi EFL- majors may have may differ depending onthe social, religious and cultural contexts. Thus as a qualitativeresearch, the researcher attempts to understand unique interactionsbetween a sample of EFL learners and the learning environment and theteaching methodologies used (Jupp, 2006). The researcher is thustasked with presenting findings truthfully to interested parties.
Furthermore, “for for a study focusing onindividual lived experiences, the researcher could argue that onecannot understand human actions without understanding the meaningthat participants attribute to these actions, their thoughts,feelings, beliefs, values, and assumptive worlds" (Marshall &Rossmans, 1999, p. 57 cited in Ahmad & Shah 2014). To fullyunderstand these meanings, the researcher needs to study things intheir natural settings to discover the meanings seen by those beingresearched or subjects as opposed to the meaning seen by theresearcher.
The study appliedquestionnaires to collect data. A two-part instrument comprising ofclosed and open ended questions was used to collect data.Questionnaires are some of the most widely used data collectionmethods used by researchers in different fields. However, theefficiency of these questionnaires largely depend on the competenceof the researcher in developing questions that are easy to answer,will encourage participants to answer them, address the relevantphenomenon targeted by the research and are devoid of confusion(Cohen, 2007). Again, most questionnaires applied in second language(L2) research are somewhat ad hoc instruments, and questionnaireswith sufficient (and well-documented) psychometric reliability andvalidity are not that easy to come by in our field…and practice ofquestionnaire design/use has remained largely uninformed by theory”(Dornyei, 2003, p. 4)
The questionnaires were inEnglish given that participants had substantial English backgroundhaving been through the preliminary and intermediate levels in EFLlearning. This would also mean that the questionnaire faced alimitation in that only limited vocabulary would be used in askingquestions to factor in English being a second language to thelearners. Additionally, use of questionnaires as opposed tointerviews means that the researcher would not be there to explainquestions to participants in case of difficulties in understandingthe questions.
Another issue that was putinto consideration in developing the questionnaire pertains tosimplicity, motivation, social desirability, time and length. Onsimplicity, the researcher had to develop simple language to ensurethat participants would easily understand what was being asked ofthem by the individual questions and that they could respond in asimple manner in the case of open questions. On the case of socialdesirability, the researcher made all attempts to create questionsthat would be perceived as self-incriminating which would tend toencourage the participant to lie. On desirability and time, theauthor made sure that the questions were simple to answer and thatthe participant could take about15-20 minutes at most to answer allquestions.
Regrettably, questionnaires cannot address all issues that theresearcher would like to know about the phenomena being studied. Theidea is to structure questions to address the purpose of the studyand the research question. In fact, Donryei (2003) anticipates thisand cautions researchers that the “the generaltemptation is always to cover too much ground by asking everythingthat might turn out to be interesting. This must be resisted: inquestionnaire design less is often more because long questionnairescan become counterproductive” (p. 18). Consequently, only 18questions were included in the questionnaire.
4.4 Informed Consent
Each interview sheet wasaccompanied by another sheet seeking authorization from participants.Informed consent ensures that participants are well informed aboutthe information that the researcher, the intention of the researchand also clarifies on the participants’ confidentiality by holdingresearchers responsible for safeguarding any confidential informationthat may be collect. This is especially so where questionnaires aremailed to participants or are emailed. Access to such confidentialdetails such as home address, email address or telephone number couldbe a soft target on breach of confidentiality laws. However, in thecurrent case, the researcher did not collect any confidentialinformation.
4.5 Authorization and ethical considerations
Before commenting theresearch, the researcher sought written permission to conduct theresearch from the dean/faculty upon which the researcher was issuedwith a certificate of ethical research approval. This was done inline with preparing the proposal which indicated the scope andintention of the research in brief.
Purposive sampling was usedto identify participants in the study. This method of sampleselection differs from probability sampling in that it is largelyreliant on the judgment of the researcher in choosing the units ofstudy. The choice of sampling method is determined largely by thesize of the population targeted, resources at hand, and the datacollection method intended to be used. Random sampling method is bestsuited for quantitative data as they surveys seeking on identifyingtrends that are best informed by statistical data. On the other hand,purposive sampling is best suited to studies where the targetpopulation is relatively small and a strict requirement orcharacteristic in participants is necessary. One major weakness ofthis approach to sampling is that it is subject to bias as it reliesof the researcher subjective choice of participants. However, giventhe legal and social restrictions that do not allow gender mixingSaudi context implies that the method fits with the researcher’ssocial bias.
Thecurrent research applied purposive sampling in identifying a sampleof 20 male students all taking English major at Taibah University andin their final year. All participants were over 18 years old, ofsound mind and pursuing English major. The participants were all insession in the semester to ensure that their recollection of theteaching environment is up to date and relevant.
The researcher took alengthy period to prepare a set of questions that would make up thequestionnaire and also answer the research question. In constructingthe questions, there was need to formalize the answers and addressresearcher subjectivity. This is light of the fact that the currentresearch already faced a degree of bias in terms of the samplingmethod used as mentioned earlier. To address, the author thus schoolthe Likert scale to formalize and standardize responses and at thesame time used closed No/Yes questions. To make the researchquestionnaires align with the expectations of qualitative study, theeopen questions were also included. This made a questionnaire of 18questions touching on behaviours, beliefs and demographic issues. Theelement of formalizing and standardization of data in L2 research hasbeen acknowledged by several researchers. To address the shortfall ofquestionnaires, Anderson (2005) suggests used of students“standardized inventories, think-aloud protocols and reflectivejournals” (p. 760). However, due to time and resource limitations,the researcher stuck to questionnaires but took necessary measures(i.e formalizing responses).
Afterfinalizing the questionnaires, the researcher printed several copieswhich were attached to the consent forms. The questionnaires weredistributed at one EFL-majors’ class for students in the finalyear. The researcher sought the assistance of an acquaintance in theuniversity who helped in identifying potential participants.Instructions were given that that consent form must first be read andunderstood before agreeing to complete the questionnaire. A total of36 questionnaires sheets were distributed but only 26 were returned.Of the 26 returned questionnaires, one did not have a completed constsheet while another five were incomplete. The researcher thus reliedon 20 fully complete questionnaires to collect data and makeinferences.
4.9 Research limitations
The current limitations hadfaced several limitations. One of the main one was reluctance bystudents to participant in the study in fear that they views would becaptured by teachers which would lead to unfavourable grades. Thiswas one of the most common reasons given by students approached toparticipate in the study. Another key limitation that this study hadwas that the researcher was only able to access male participantsonly due to social restrictions.
The third limitation thatthe study faced and could have major implications on the findings isthat data was collected through interviews while a combination ofinterviews and observation would have been better in ascertainingteachers assumed competence in the classroom environment (Creswell,2012). Again, the sample comprised of male participants only.
The fourth limitation thatthis study faced pertained to the use of questionnaires to collectdata for a qualitative research. Ideally, there is very littleliterature support for use of questionnaires in collectingqualitative data given that open ended questions that would collectqualitative data tend to take to complete and thus encourage poorresults with incomplete answers and eventual withdrawal fromparticipation (Dornyei 2003). For these reasons, the researcher optedto use more closed questions.
5.0 Results and discussion
This section provides abrief summary to the results obtained from the study was well asproviding a brief interpretation of the results to individualquestions with supports from relevant literature. Of the 20participants targeted by the study, all of them returned completedquestionnaires. Such as high success rate was attributed to thetiming of the distribution of questionnaires.
Results showed that majorityof the participants were aged 19-22 years. This falls within theacceptable age bracket for students in studying at the universitywithin the KSA education system. Another six participants were in the23-26 years age bracket and another four in the 27-30 age bracket.There were only two students over the age of 30 meaning that they areoutside the normal age bracket for university students. However, thisis explained by the advent of adult learning and the concept ofcontinuous learning where adults who never had the opportunity tostudy seek to pursue education. Under Maslow’s hierarchy of needstheory, such people fall within the self actualisation phase wherethey seek to acquire education or even a certificate to satisfy theiregos and persona. Age in this case can influence students’relationships with teachers.
While age may point to important direction towards sources ofmotivation for learners and the relationships with teachers,psychologists point to another direction of cognitive development.The cognitive theory posits that there is learning curve in cognitivedevelopment and general learning. Hernandez, Ping and MacWhinney say,“the idea of a biologically determined critical period plays apivotal role not just in linguistic theory, but in cognitive scienceas a whole” (2005, p. 220). This critical period is very importantin life as it influence how individuals learn and make use of newinformation. Again, the method in which adults process information isnot the same as children process it. Hernandez and colleagues addthat in the field of learning there are two main systems: rule-basedanalytic procedural system, and a formulaic, exemplar-baseddeclarative system. In the rule-based analytic procedural system, theindividual relies more on generative rules which is more compatiblewith adults.
On the other hand, the formulaic, exemplar-baseddeclarative system is largely driven by memory with small portions ofrules Young children, usually about two years acquire L1 through theformulaic, exemplar-based declarative system. This explains whychildren learn language by repeating the sounds that they hear mostfrom the environment. Across the lifespan, cognitive capabilitieshave a shown a linear decline implying that L2 acquisition capacitiesare likely to decrease with age. However, this is not always thecase. Hyltenstam and Abrahamsson (2003) explains that given thatadults rely both on generative rules and a small portion of memory,not all cases of L2 learning capabilities can be explained by age asother non-age related factors also contribute to this. In fact, ageis just one of the factors among a multitude.
For the current research, the results mean thatthe age of the participants are not sufficient to explain theperformance of the learners and their attitudes assuming that higherperformers in L2 are likely to have a better attitude towards thecurrent methods used.
Question 2 (Arabic as the mother tongue shouldbe used sparingly in class in explaining some English words.)
This question was formulated based on the 5-pointLikert scale. The question sought to find out whether participantswould agree to the use of Arabic in EFL classroom. Over of half ofthe participants prefer the use of Arabic in class (9 strongly agreeand 2 agree), with two unsure and the rest opposing the use ( 2disagree 4 strong disagree). This view is largely influence by thelevel of study. Advanced learners are less likely to encourage theuse of Arabic according to Khresheh (2012). However,in this case, the results contradicted this view. Such deviation fromthe findings of Khresheh could be linked tothe teaching styles and strategies employed by the teacher as well asthe vocabulary used by the teacher. Empirical expectations would bethat native speakers have a richer vocabulary in English which mightbe even too complex for advanced learners who need Arabic tounderstand such complex words and sentence structures.
Question3 (EFL instructors are flexible in terms of style andmethod to meet different needs of learners)
A total of eleven studentsstrongly agreed that teachers are flexible in style and responding tostudent needs. This kind of flexibility is correspondent with theview posited by the principled eclecticism theory. However, theresearcher was unable to ascertain the nature and variation sin thelevel of variation in methodology that the students had observed inclass. An additionally 4 students agreed to the idea that teachersvaried their approach h to suit individual needs of students whilefour of them neither agreed nor disagreed.
Question4 (I am satisfied with the EFL teaching methods currently used by myinstructor).
This question sought toassess the approval of the current EFL methodologies in use. Onlyfour participants indicated that they strongly agreed with themethod, with another twelve only agreeing. One responding neitheragreed nor disagreed with another disagreeing and another twostrongly disagreeing. Several researchers have often pointed out thatit is can be difficult to identify particular EFL methods applied inclass unless they get to identify various strategies, styles andprinciples assisted with such methods. In this regard, the agreementto the methods in this case can be also associated with the teachingstrategies and styles and not just the methodology.
Questionfive (Different instructors and learners are suited differently bydifferent EFL teaching methods).
Results showed that 10participants strongly agree, 8 agree and two neither disagree noragree that different instructors and learners are suited differentlyby different EFL teaching methods. In the case of students havingdifferent needs, there is need for teachers to be competent inemploying more than one method and even several strategies in orderto reach out students who may have unique needs.
Q6 (There are better and easier ways to gain EFL competence than theones employed in class).
A total of 13 participantsstrongly agreed, 4 agreed, 2 disagreed and 1 strongly disagreed. Inthe modern age, there are numerous avenues that individuals can learna second language. In this case, learners believe there are bettermethods to learn English other than through the methods applied inthe classroom. Before the introduction of modern teaching of L2,scholars relied on self-teaching methods to acquire competence in anew language (Howatt & Widdowson, 2004). Such an approach isstill widely used especially by adult learners who get to learn newlanguages without going through the formal educational process tolearn that language. This is most common among immigrants andexpatriates who upon moving into new countries may end up learning anew language as a result of interacting with the natives. However,this kind of language competence largely involves hearing andspeaking and largely excludes writing and reading. The concept ofwatching western movies and listening to English music or plays as away of encouraging English competence is one of the avenues suggestedby Hamouda (2011) and the most likely being considered by the highnumber of participants who believe that there exists better Englishlearning methods other the classroom.
Q7.(Learning English about the western culture and values contributespositively towards EFL competence.)
A high number ofparticipants (10) neither agreed nor disagreed with this statementwhile five strongly disagreed and another five strongly disagreed.This shows that this issue is very sensitive and divisive accordingto the results. With all participants being Arab, they avoided beingengaged in the debate on the morally and suitability of westernvalues in the face of strict conservative Islamic values. At the sametime there is an emerging voice of dissent among Muslims and Arab ingeneral that view some cultural practices and beliefs have held thesociety back. These voices of dissent are largely expressed byyounger people who have desire to experience the Americanidealization of freedom and a western lifestyle. This is evidentthrough the internet, video games, western movies and music videos.The internet has emerged as one of the most potential avenues tolearn and teach English in the age of online learning.
Q8.(Would you like to be engaged in choosing the EFL teaching methodsused?)
On the willingness to beengaged in choosing the teaching strategies and style, 15participants agreed by saying yes while five no. This in particularshows a desire to challenge the traditional teaching approach in KSAwhere the teacher has been the active player in the classroom withlearners perceived as sponges to absorb knowledge from theinstructor. On the other hand, the five participants who indicatedthat they would not to be engaged in choosing the teachingmethodology capture one of the most cited issues that hinder EFLteaching in KSA societal attitude towards English. Althoughcompetence in English as a language is a source of prestige for manyin KSA, the use and value of learning the language is yet to be fullyacknowledged. From a psychological view, the actual value they areputting on education is minimal. Shah Hussain and Nasseef (2013, p.113) reported the same issue with one particular teacher indicatingthat he has never seen a single parent inquiring about the progressof their children or even expressing their expectations and desiresabout the education of their children.
Q9.(Does the current TEFL teaching method used in EFL class match wellwith role of EFL in your life?)
On this question, 14participants answered yes and 6 no. This concurs with the view policyadopted by the ministry of education and the ministry for highereducation that view leaning of English as the best to offer modernknowledge on sciences and humanities that largely exists in English.Alhamuda (2012) captured this view in his study where most studentsindicated that the reason many were taking English majors was becausethey wanted to pursue courses in other fields. This does notnecessarily involve pursuing these courses in foreign countries butalso locally in KSA. Several higher learning institutions such asKing Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals have already adoptedEnglish as the language of instruction though Islam and Arabiclanguage are offered in Arabic (Ministry of Education 2015).
Q10.(Do you think that the TESL methodology being used in class currentlyinfluences your attitude and motivation towards learning EFL)
On this question 17participants indicate that the TEFL methodology currently used inclass influence their attitude towards the language. The method usedcan create a positive attitude which is likely to motivate learnersto learn and even out in extra effort in order to succeed.Conversely, a wrong methodology or a poorly applied methodology islikely to discourage learners from putting in extra effort in thebelief that they cannot succeed. The latter is a recurrent issueamong Saudi EFL learners who do no accord EFL leaning and educationat large the level of attention and seriousness it deserves.
Q11(Would you suggest the current TESL method used by your teacher toanother EFL learner?)
Half of the participantsindicated that they would suggest the current methodology to otherEFL learners while the other half would not. The fact that half ofthe participants believed that the method was not good enough to beused by other learners could suggest that the methodology itself wasperceived to be unsuitable or that the application of that particularmethodology a particular teacher was responsible for creating thenegative attitude towards the method. A study by Ahmed, Yassatorn andYossiri (2012) among EFL learners in Thailand shows that theinclusion of certain activities, strategies and styles in EFL methodsused by teachers impacted the attitudes towards the method and eventeachers. Therefore it can be assumed that these responses providedby the learners in regards to the methods applied might be heavilyinfluenced by the feelings and attitudes have towards the teachermore so in regards to the persona rather than ability to apply andexecute a given EFL teaching method.
Q12(Are you satisfied with the level of IT adoption in EFL learning inyour university?)
Nearly all (17) theparticipants were not satisfied with the level of technology adoptionin their EFL classes at Taibah University. Although computer assistedlearning (CAL) has been adopted in many developed countries, not manydeveloping countries such as KSA have made full use of the potentialof CAL. Many researchers continue to indicate that CAL adoption inmost countries is driven by the willingness of teachers to apply thetechnology, sociocultural beliefs and institutional support. In thecurrent case, it is clear to see that learners are not in any waysatisfied field with technology adoption. Interestingly, among thethree participants who indicate that they were satisfied with thetechnology infusion in the current teaching method, two were olderthan thirty years. This is not surprising as empirical observationshave shown that the generation x and the millennial are some of thebest equipped in technology while older individuals have trouble inadopting more complicated modern technology. Nonetheless, where thetechnology is adopted, there is unlimited potential. One suchadvantage include increased motivation for learners, ability to adoptto individual learner needs, authenticity, reduced pressure onlearners and development of critical thinking skills (Afrin 2014).The notion of motivation as far as blogging is concerned has beendocumented by several studies (Fageeh, 2011). However, blogging doesnot account as a CAL but rather a technology aided classroom activityand strategy (Afrin 2014) which according to Ahmed, Yassatorn andYossiri (2012) does not actually improve L2 acquisition but increasesmotivation towards L2 acquisition.
Q13(Do you think that a teachers experience and competence influenceschoice and use of EFL teaching method?)
Sixteen participantsbelieved that the choice and application of any teaching methodologywas dependant on the teachers’ competence, application, andexperience. The view suggests that many learners have a huge respectfor instructors and are more likely to attribute to their success inEFL learning to the teachers as opposed to the teaching method used.On the other hand, it indicates that research in individual methodsmaybe tricky to carry out because the attitudes towards anymethodology are tied to the views towards individual teachers.
Q14 (What do you think is the most importantarea of English language any given TESL methodology should emphasizeon?)
The question provided learners with multipleanswers and they were required to identify the most important aspectof EFL learning any given methodology should address (A. Reading andwriting B. Speaking and hearing C. Grammar rules D. Real lifeapplication). As stated by the ministry of education KSA, one of thecore purposes of learning English and even making it mandatory in theelementary levels was to increase Saudi participation in globalaffairs conspicuously dominated by the English language. Similarly,16 students indicated that they were more concerned about EFLmethodologies addressing this goal. Two participants wanted EFLmethodologies to address reading and writing skills, one wanted themethodology to address speaking and listening skills and another onewanted methodologies to address grammar rules. Although knowledge ofthe English language improves communicative competence and generalfunctioning in the global society which aligns to real lifeapplication, the other choices made the other participants are notwrong. It is most likely these participants felt that the respectiveareas identified to be given priority by EFL methodologies representtheir weakest areas.
Question 15.(Give reasons why you believe or do not believe the current EFLstrategies and methods enables you to achieve your personal reasonsfor pursuing EFL major?)
Participants gave varying reasons to this question. Dominant themeswere career, social prestige, pursue other courses, and relocate tothe west. One participant indicated that
I working on my English to be fluent and then relocate to the US.Learning English here is OK for me and will make me relate betterwith American society when I move there. I would hate to be seenstereotypes as terrorist because of my accent (sic).
This shows that thelearner is eager to integrate into an American society. It thereforemean that the best fitting methodology in this case would be one thatplaces emphasis on listening skills, speaking skills, pronunciationand American culture. Thirteen participants were very specific inthat they were looking forward to perfecting their English toincrease career prospects. Nine of them explicitly indicated thatthey were happy with the methodology and believed that themethodology employed in class would help them achieve their goals.
Question 16 (Inorder of importance, list the five top aspects that make you feelgood about the current EFL teaching method employed by your teacher).
One again, the responses to this question varied widely. Participantswere however agreed on several things though not explicitly as shownby dominant themes. One such dominant theme was the issue ofpeer-to-peer engagement. Students were very positive about correctingeach other in the classroom environment and engaging in groupdiscussions outside the classroom engagement.
Q17 (List two ormore aspects that make you feel bad about the current EFL teachingmethod/style/strategies employed by your teacher?)
The ideas expressed by the participants in this question also variedwidely. However, most of the participants indicated teacher-relatedissues as opposed to the methodology itself. For instance, oneparticipant listed teacher feedback in front other peers as a hugelyproblematic issue. Three participants also indicated that theinsistence by teachers to use ‘specified pronunciation’ ofcertain words without giving allowance to L1 influences as one thattend to frustrate some students. Another participant indicated thatthe approach employed the teacher does not motivate them to learn asthe teacher is “boring” in class.
In summary, the results indicate that students are more responsive toEFL teaching strategies and styles as opposed to methodologies. Forthe majority of the students, perception and beliefs towardsactivities conducted in class and their expectation of EFL teachingapproach coincide with views presented by findings in past studies.For instance, students indicated a higher level preference for betteradoption of technology in EFL teaching which increases motivation tolearn. Ideally, students are convinced that the choices that teachersmake in class are directed by their personal choices as opposed tostructured methodologies. This is clearly indicated by the notionthat participants showed by the majority believing that differentteaching methods suited different instructors. This would imply thatthere are no standard formats on applying various methodologies.
6.0 Findings and recommendations
An analysis of past research studies have demonstrated that manyfactors affect the choice of learning strategies, styles and methodsamong teachers. There are also many other factors that influence thelearners attitudes and perception of the same. As aforementioned thelearners tend to link the EFL methods to the personal traits ofteacher which in the same manner as strategies. It must be noted thatwhile learning methods are general, strategies are specific and tiedto the persona of the teacher. It is therefore almost impossible toascertain whether perception towards a teacher’s personality isreflected in the perception towards teaching strategies employed.
Another issue that this study reveals from the literature review andthe current study is that the education system is not well equippedto offer EFL courses. Apart from previous studies indicating negativestudents’ attitudes, negative perceptions towards some acceptablelearning practices such as teacher’s feedback, shows that thelearners have not gone through a thorough education system thatshould instill such practices as common standard. Alternatively, itcould be explained that there is a huge problem with the negativeattitude towards teachers and learning strategies and stylesemployed.
Therefore, it is recommended that Saudi EFL teachers be exposed tofurther training to increase their competence in handling students.Such perceived lower quality of education by the students themselvesand high demand for foreign education shows that the public’s truston the education system is waning. Furthermore, the conservativesociety and strict Sharia laws in the country have played a great inpreventing the country from attracting foreign instructors who arehighly experienced and qualified to offer EFL learning to matchglobal standards.
As the study hasdemonstrated, there is a poor understanding of the place and role ofthe teacher in KSA as a whole. More so, in EFL teaching inuniversities. The general societal attitude towards education andEnglish in particular places EFL learning and teaching in arelatively minor position in terms of prioritization. Although thereare huge realistic needs for English as a language in the country,the society is not well prepared to accommodate western educationwhich seems to challenge religious studies. Additionally, therequirement to incorporate western culture alongside EFL learning isa controversial issue in the country. This is mainly becauseconservative Muslims view western culture as immoral and contrary toIslamic teachings. Furthermore, given the huge role that religionplays in KSA, the majority of the learners’ views towards Englishand EFL learning methods are not shaped by the EFL strategiesthemselves but rather by religious views. It can thus be concludedthat religion, to a great extent, shapes perception towards EFLteaching methods among Taibah University English majors.Additionally, the stringent demand by the ministry of highereducation to contextualize EFL teaching in Islamic culture in orderto meet one of the key objectives of teaching English, as a vesselthat can be used to spread Islam, then teachers themselves areheavily influenced by Islamic culture in their teaching approaches.This has a potential of creating conflict with some EFL teachingmethods and strategies that seek to lay greater emphasis on theculture of the native speakers of a target language.
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