Al-Khairy in his study discusses the problems that Saudi-English Learners experince in their quest to improve their wriring skils. He aserts that the nature of the task offered to the student determines to a great extent their proficiency in writing. Al-Khairy in his discussion notes that writing is more than just possesion of knowlegde on a task as it entails the comunication of ideas. Thus if the task at hand implies a level of complexity, then there is no doubt that the student will be faced with a problem in analysing the task as well as gaining ideas that can help them communicate amicably to deliver the intended message. The author focuses his discussion on a study of Saudi English-Major Undergraduates and the problems they experience in academic writing. The quantititave and qualititivae data chosen for his study indicate that the learners have more problems when faced with a task that requires a review of the notes containg many vocabularies. However, the same study notes that when the students are accorded a task that basis its data from tables or diagrams, the students seem to be more proficient and accurate in comunicating their ideas. The author concludes that some tasks require that a students is afforded more time so that they can have the time to synthezize the information and hence develop informed writing from the task.
Al-Yousef in his study reviews the English Coursebook for Saudi Arabia students in third grade to determine the areas of focus that have been identified as problematic for most students. In this review, that author notes that the course book focuses more on comprehensions understanding and developing ideas from comprehensions and voluminous texts. The study or review in this case, found out that the diagrams and tables as well as tree diagrams were accorded less significance in the course work as students had in their earlier grades illustrated proficiency in using diagrams and tables as tasks upon which they could derive information to write academic material. This indicated similar findings from other research used in such studies that tasks have a bearing on the proficieny of the students in academic writing.
Tabar in his study focuses on determing how task variations affects the level of proficiency demonstrated by students in their academic writing. Tabar notes that the biggest challenge across the major tasks visible in academic writing , that is, writing from notes, diagrams and tables is the decision making part. While tables and diagrams offer an easier approach to decision making and hence development of ideas, notes provide a level of complexity that limits the synthesis as well as development of ideas. The study was based on a comparative observation of students as participants where they were subjected to the three different taks at different times and their level of proficiency in writing detemined using a standard scale. The results indicated that the level of proficiency was high for tasks that involved diagrams and tables as compared to use of notes.
Reid (1989), an expert in acquisition of second language skills suggests that a successful user of a second language should be all-round, that is, should possess social, economic and political characteristics of a language. He observed that overall, male students in Saudi Arabia are much more likely to lack these characteristics since throughout the process of learning a second language they are driven by the need to make sense and communicate only (Reid 1989). Therefore, in their priority list, acquisition of social, political and economic characteristics comes last. In this sense, fluency during communication of a second language, say, English becomes poor.
Al Asmari (2013) on the other hand, points out that acquisition of second language skills include writing and speaking the language is affected by a myriad of factors in the immediate social environment. The deductions by the author were guided by a research. The research was however backed by literature from other scholars who have addressed the same topic. Age is another factor that hugely determines the level of acquisition of second language skills. According to Al Asmari, the critical period forms a very important stage in terms of learning linguistic styles and skills (2013).Most male students who enroll for second language lessons are usually beyond the critical period and as such full masterly of the language is subsequently compromised.
Al Asmari, A. (2013). Investigation of writing strategies, writing apprehension, and writing achievement among Saudi EFL-major students. International Education Studies, 6(11), 130-143. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1491430328?accountid=142908
Al-Khairy, M. A. (2013). Saudi English-Major Undergraduates' Academic Writing Problems: A Taif University Perspective (Vol. 6). At-Taif: Canadian Center of Science and Education. doi:10.5539
Al-Yousef, H. S. (2007). An Evaluation of the Third Grade Intermediate English Coursebook in Saudi Arabia.
Reid J. M.. (1993). Teaching ESL writing. Englewood Cliffs,: Regents/Prentice-Hall.
Tabar, N., & Alavi, S. (2013). A Comparative Study of the Effects of Task-Based Writing under Different Pre-Task Planning Conditions on Intermediate EFL Learners’ Written Performance in Personal and Decision-Making Tasks. International Research Journal of Applied and Basic Sciences, 970-978.