The importance of English language is widely accepted in various areas of business, education, society, economy and politics across the globe. Moreover, the leading role played by English speaking people in various spheres of life like trade and business, commerce and geopolitical issues further gives the language a key position in our society. It has been recognized in Saudi Arabia also and therefore the Ministry of Education introduced English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in the region during the year 1930 (Alnofai, 2014). Since then there has been an increase in the attitude of people in Arabian society towards importance of English language despite of their basic language being Arabic (Faruk, 2014). There are several reasons of such change in attitude of people towards a positive outlook for English language and generally attributed to the globalization of the business world, use of English language as a major communication means in various sectors like education, politics, economics and trade and commerce. However, there are several challenges that are faced by teachers of English foreign language while imparting education at University level in the region. The major reason of such issues and problems are associated with the teacher-centered nature of Saudi teaching and lack of proficient and trained teachers along with lack of latest technology to impart an efficient learning and skills in English language.
Keeping the above facts in mind, the present dissertation is focused on exploring the actual challenges associated with institutional policies, socio-cultural attitude, motivation level of learners, lack of appropriate resources and technological equipment and negative attitude of learners towards English language as faced by EFL teachers in Saudi Arabian Universities. The focus is on identifying the strategies and policies that can help in improving the situation and ensuring better reading, writing, listening and speaking skills among students at University level.
1.2 Rationale of Present Study
There are several studies conducted to explore the challenges faced by teachers while teaching English language in schools of Saudi Arabia. Further, ample literature is available discussing the issues and barriers faced by students while learning English as a foreign language in Saudi schools and colleges. However, there is a lack of detailed studies focused on challenges faced by teachers while teaching English language at University level in Saudi Arabia. The present study is conducted to fill this gap in the literature and explore the barriers or challenges that are unique to teaching English in Universities of Saudi Arabia. Keeping the study focused on University teachers and not looking into the challenges being faced at primary or secondary levels of school teaching achieve this. It is to be noted that it may be easy to understand the needs and expectations of students at primary education level and influence their behavior and learning patterns. However, University level students have a wide exposure with a plan for their career in future. There may be some unique challenges associated only with these students, classrooms and universities as a whole. Therefore, teachers imparting EFL education at university level are identified and interviewed to fill the literature gap.
1.3 Importance of present study
The present study will prove to be useful for teachers as well as Universities of Saudi Arabia. It will help them to work on identified challenges and barriers and also offers them some practical recommendations to manage the issues and make English teaching more student-centered and practical in nature. Such an approach will ensure that students are able to acquire key skills related with listening, speaking and writing the language in a proficient manner that can be used in real-world scenario across the globe.
The major questions for which the present study is conducted are listed as follows:
1. What are the challenges faced by EFL teachers in Saudi Arabia that arise from the teachers’ competence and preparation to teach English language?
2. What are the challenges faced by EFL teachers in Saudi Arabia that arise from the students’ motivation to learn the English language and their English language proficiency?
3. What are the challenges faced by EFL teachers in Saudi Arabia that arise from the contextual constraints?
4. How can the challenges faced by EFL teachers in Saudi universities be overcome?
1.5 Research aim and objectives
The present research study aims to analyse the challenges that teachers of EFL face by looking at the case of EFL teachers in Saudi Arabian universities and exploring what difficulties and challenges do they encounter in teaching English to Saudi university students.
This study will achieve the abovementioned research aim by fulfilling the following objectives:
1. Identifying the obstacles that EFL teachers face while imparting English education in Universities of Saudi Arabia.
2. Identifying the obstacles faced by teacher of EFL due to lack of learners’ motivation in Saudi Arabian Universities
3. Identifying the barriers faced by EFL teachers due to contextual constraints in Saudi Arabian Universities.
4. Recommending strategies to manage the challenges faced by EFL teachers and improving the level of students’ learning and proficiency of the language.
The present research study adopted the primary method of study, as it is believed that such a method will help in collecting first-hand data through detailed discussions about challenges and barriers faced by teachers actually experiencing the situation while teaching EFL in Saudi Arabian universities. It will also help in assessing the different types of challenges that they face while teaching English to Saudi students.
Further the purpose of this research study is to explore the challenges and barriers faced by EFL teachers while imparting English language education in universities of Saudi Arabia. Thus, the route of qualitative study is selected to understand human behaviour aspect in relation to EFL teaching and learning at university level. This particular approach will help in getting detailed information from a small sample size as respondents can be given ample time to understand the question and share their experience in various different scenarios at different point of time. In order to conduct the study, the data will be collected through semi-structured interviews. The interviews were conducted through telephonic way for nine teachers, teaching in three different Saudi universities, namely King Saud University, Prince Sultan University and Alfaisal University, all of which are located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Finally, the collected data is analysed by using thematic analysis method and benchmarking the results with the literature review presented in second chapter of the research work.
The present study is presented through the following six chapters:
Chapter 1: Introduction
This is the first chapter of the research study where the background to the study along with research aim and objectives, research questions and rationale and importance of the study have been discussed.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
This is the second chapter of the research study where the available literature, concepts, theories, previous studies and results associated with the topic of study are discussed in detail.
Chapter 3: Research methodology
This is the third chapter detailing the research philosophy, research strategy, methods, data collection tools, sample size, and data analysis methods used to conduct the actual research work.
Chapter 4: Results
This fourth chapter of the study is focused on presenting the results obtained from interviews in an unbiased manner.
Chapter 5: Analysis of Results
This chapter presents a detailed analysis of the results presented in last chapter through a thematic analysis and benchmarking the literature review.
Chapter 6: Conclusion and Recommendations
This is the final chapter of the study where the research work and results are summarized in a manner to reach conclusion and check whether the study has been successful in achieving research objectives. Further, the recommendations for English teachers and university management are also presented in this final chapter of the study.