Discuss About the Role and the Policy of Teaching EFL in Saudi Arabia ?
English is one of the dominating languages in the world. Many nations have adopted English as a foreign language (EFL) because it is the primary communication language that can ease trading and other activities. It is true that foreigners are capable of socially intermingling with the natives if there is a single form of language that is in place because people come from different backgrounds. In connection to that, Saudi Arabia is one of the Muslim-dominated nation, and Arabic is the commonly used language. For a long time Saudi Arabia has been dependent on oils, and for that reason, the country has been witnessing positive growth regarding infrastructural development and social cohesion. Other sectors remain underutilized due to lack of experts mainly contributed by lack of a single language that can unite both the Saudis and the foreigners. For that reason, introducing and strengthening the use of English as a foreign language (EFL) has become a key concern for bettering the lives of Saudis within and outside the nation. Therefore in-depth analysis of roles and policies of teaching EFL in Saudi Arabia is critical to the understanding and achievement of vision 2030.
Initially, the Saudis were nomads who moved along with their herds in search of food and water. This kingdom is known to have emerged as a small nation that has currently grown to a prominent nation. As the demands for monetary value grew, the country started expanding and economically growing due to possession of valuable oil sources. At that time there were bounds on the spread of formal education because the nation is Muslim dominated. Al-Saadat and Al-Braik (2004) illustrates that in the 1920s, the state noted the growing inefficiency due to the adoption Arabia language and steps towards implementing state-controlled education were vital. During that period, King Abdul Aziz was the dominant man who championed the reforms of the Ministry of Education. In 1925, a special branch ‘Directorate of Education' was formed and its existence can be acknowledged up to date. According to Cooper (1989), the establishment of formalized schools was witnessed in 1939.During that time Saudi Arabia depended on Egypt and Syria for strengthening academic backgrounds due to lack of finances and national scholars. In 1936 establishment of scholarship preparation Schools (SPS) was attained in Makkah which marked the commencement of modern day high school academics and teaching of English in Saudi Arabia (Ur Rahman & Alhaisoni, 2013). In spite of financial constraints to support scholarship programs, enrolment of elementary education recorded a progressive growth in the 1950s. The program was fully supported by the government, and after a short period, the school model had adopted the steps of Lebanon and Syria which were in line with the British form of learning whose basis was the English language. Alshumaimeri (2012) noted that the system of teaching that is taught today in Saudi Arabia was enacted in 1953.This came as a result of Saudi Arabia experiencing critical royalties from the sale of oils. Later, the country started witnessing oil influx which forced it to send teachers abroad on scholarship programs to bring back skills that were crucial to the country growth. At that time illiteracy rate was high and few people could read and speak English.
The government also noted the concerns brought about by the scholars and decided to address them by offering the allowances and incentives to the sponsored students locally and internationally, therefore, encouraging them to seriously undertake education to better their lives and the lives of other people (Bashehab & Buddhapriya, 2013). In the late 1940s, the government of Saudi Arabia found that to be independent it was critical to shift from the British-based Egyptian model to a more religious conservative forum, an issue that is evident in school principles and textbooks. It is from such motives that enabled the government of Saudi Arabia to witness the conception of Mecca, the first higher education institution. This college valued language to the extent of implementing rules that saw the language taught two hours per week for a period fours as per the expectations of the school. As mentioned earlier that English is a language that cultivates cohesion, this concept was experienced during that time. Due to the simplicity of communicating in English, the United States was observed to have been involved in the affairs of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia by showing great interests in the oil trade. This rendered English language teaching relevant to promote social and economic development in Saudi Arabia. In 1970, the ministry of education in collaboration with the government implemented English language teaching syllabus that could be introduced at the secondary level (Rahman & Alhaisoni, 2013). This was an eye-opener for students to develop critical thinking and enhance personal English skills that would be a yardstick to university admission. The students were encouraged to adhere to English learning to understand its values on social and economic perspectives. Later textbooks and other related materials were published in line with Saudi Arabian culture.
The view of English language and its importance was introduced to address the need to enhance grammar, normative orthography and preparation of speakers and writers by implementing dictionary use. In this opinion, English language teaching was adhered to by putting the focus on the forms of language which later turned to be ‘Corpus planning concept,' an integral part of communication success that was appreciated by other people. The oral traditions bring to light the attitudes people have when learning new languages. Al-Hazmi (2003) highlights that the only means by which English language conception would take were by comprehending the norms of the speakers who are known to be politically powerful. Also, he noticed that although language use would be promoted by the politically dominant groups, it was not enough to yield much influence to a large number of citizens. This paved the way for the introduction of written materials that people would refer to and understand the all the directives of English that would stick into their minds through repeated reference to the provided materials. Furthermore, AL-Abdulkareem (1993) discovered that to influence many people to embrace various English language codes; there was a need to make implementation attempt and make it formal to people. This would get grips by allowing the ruling governments to formulate principles that would permit the use of one acceptable form of language to integrate various tribes under one roof.
The elaboration and codification of ‘corpus planning' were given much attention to enhancing implementation of English language use and conformation to the modern world. Al-Rasheed (2013) noted the existence of a gap that was increasing as a result of embracement of own local languages at international level. Al-Nafjan (2012) posits that there could be challenges facing particular nations regarding trade due to the misunderstanding that was brought by the language difference. The views as mentioned earlier brought pressure to the government of Saudi Arabia to decide on the macro policies that would fit the dwellers as well as determine the official and desirable language codes to meet the needs of a particular nation and the whole world. The quest to update the Arabic to the English language was seen as the government responsibility to influence and change the society for better coping with other nonmembers at ease. In other words, Establishment of English as the foreign language (EFL) in various non-English speaking nations was highly appreciated and acceptable.
According to Al-Nasser, (2015), Saudi Arabian kingdom is known to have taken strides crucial to the revival of the nation’s economic goals and objectives. The government is widely known for its oil production which has seen it concentrates a lot of revenue from the enterprise. Although Saudi Arabia is developing to a great nation, much emphasis has been put to emulate English Language use to enhance public participation and other private stakeholders who play a significant role in the expansion of the country economy. Al-Rasheed (2013) postulates that the education system has been facing challenges of adopting the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). For sure, the kingdom's most important goal is to ensure production of competent critical thinkers as well as entrepreneurial skills that can fit in the advancing global world.
The government developed a strategy for implementing the free education that encouraged everyone to get the opportunity to study. The approach took care of meals and allowance to the needy people hence boosting their ambitions to learn. Research done by Commins (2008) shows that those students who withstood the studies to university level were provided with free accommodation and benefits that could maintain them up to the end. In 2014, English curriculum was introduced by the ministry of education. This dictated the teaching of English subject in the grade six schools which acted as the basis for the introduction of English at the elementary schools. According to Alamri (2008), the teaching of English as a foreign language (EFL) saw Saudi Arabia achieve higher economic strides by incorporating strategies and skills that would enable the nation to meet its objectives and long-term goals. In 2013, English language curriculum was developed to take care of all levels of academics to at least enable the nation to achieve vision 2030.All those programs by the ministry of education have allowed the country to witness increment of English language teachers who stands at about 35000 in number.
To assess the present viability of English language training in Saudi Arabia, surveys conducted in 2016 posit that there have been fruitful changes in the embracement of English language. There have been about eighty-five percent of the teachers providing English skills to the students as well as monitoring their progress (Alkharashi & Nickerson, 2012). Supporting the idea that teaching English has immensely impacted on the economy of the Saudis; reports show that about seventy percent of the students enjoy learning English concepts more so due to the availability of online platform by the teachers, therefore, making the subject simple to understand. Conversely, it is not wise to conclude that the government should relax and declare the strategy for spreading English curriculum complete. This is because of Saudi Arabia, being a Muslim dominated country, has to keep on investing a lot in the cultivation of English language for faster acquisition of the tongue by the citizens. The results of the survey undertaken reveal that from all the students tested, only forty percent of them are capable of attaining the expected grades as far as English studies are concerned (Alquraini, 2010). This is contributed by the fact that most students do not complete homework given by their teachers. Moreover, only twenty-six percent of the students are capable of accessing online materials implying the need for government to bridge the gap and ensure every student has the electronic device at the disposal for online learning. Denman and Hilal (2011) found out that few English classes are set per week proving the subject deficient. In brief, the government of Saudi Arabia has a long way to go before English Is declared a dominant language in the region.
Presently, the English language teaching (ELT) has boosted the countries performance to greater heights. Due to the introduction of scholarship programs, the scholars have gained knowledge and skills that are acquired through an integration of English (Alrashidi & Phan, 2015). This has enabled the nation to reap excellent benefits from the expertise who have sacrificed their efforts to give back to the society. Due to the spread of English training (ET) in Saudi Arabia, communication has been enhanced thus attracting many foreign professionals who have significantly contributed to the extraction and exploration of the country's resources. There has been a reported case of increasing number of tourists due to language conformity in the region (Bashehab & Buddhapriya, 2013). Communication has considerably improved as a result of the implementation of English programs in Saudi Arabia. For instance, business people are capable of marketing their products and ideas through e-commerce. Several Saudi is capable of participating in the international development debates that have largely impacted on the nation’s prosperity (Clatanoff, Parlin, Jordan, Kestenbaum & Seznec, 2006). Briefly, Self-expression has been boosted through enhancement of English language teaching (ELT) curriculum. In short, the Arabians can be recognized as part and parcel of the world’s contributors of unity through embracement of English language which is the principal language in the world.
The future of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on vision 2030 and national transformation plan 2020 must be considered. According to past research, there have been a good number of students who never get access to the internet thereby contributing to low absorption of English language in Saudi Arabia (Ahmad, 2014). In connection to that, the government is working hard to ensuring that national development agendas take into account the need to avail electronic devices to the student.This will enable them to acquire relevant skills and knowledge regarding English language codes thereby rendering vision 2030 credible. The survey also reveals that a significant number of teachers agree to have used Arabic while teaching due to the several issues. Firstly about forty percent of the students do not understand the teachings when English is used; others are motivated when English is taught in Arabic (Ahmad, 2014). Furthermore, teachers have claimed that they cannot conduct everything in English creating a gap that needs to be filled. The recruitment criteria for English teacher are demanding. The survey has identified that English language test (STEP) provided by Qiyas for aspiring teachers is no more different from another test such as IELTS and TOEFL, a situation that has made teachers spread Arabic in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Consequently, the teachers identified the need for English proficiency training that would strengthen their use of vocabularies, grammar and speaking skills. The other area of concern was the technological need which was closely linked with the academic textbooks. The ministry of education together with the national government of Saudi Arabia is on the forefront to ensure all those grievances are met by vision 2030 as far as English endearment is concerned Al-Nafjan (2012). Also, the government is working together with parents and enhancing them to act as a source of motivation to their children in acquiring and acknowledging the English language.
Conclusively, the role and policy of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in Saudi Arabia on Vision 2030 has apparently been analyzed. It is evident that Saudi Arabia has come from far with regards to English language inception. Due to the fruitful nature of the English language teaching (ELT) program, achievement of vision 2030 is valid.
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