The Context of Education
The Role of English in Saudi Arabia
English study has played a lot of beneficial roles among individuals and the country as well. Graduates in English literature are able to acquire well rewarding job opportunities as tutors or working in ministry of Education or other government institutions. In Saudi Arabia today, English Speaking individuals have great opportunities to attain jobs even in the private sector since the neat flow of communication in the organization enhances business. This has raised an alarm to the country since English language has become a requirement for the job seekers thus encouraging even the old working citizens to go for private studies in English language. The language has also enabled students to acquire opportunities in the colleges and universities worldwide since to most of them English is a compulsory subject. English language has also enhanced business among the Saudi Arabia and the outside world due to social interaction. People have been able to communicate well with each other thus creating a good world relationship to an extent of having intermarriages between different races.
English has spread fast worldwide thus becoming an international language. The Saudi Arabian country is a community which has grown traditionally with a greater value in Arabic as their language. Currently English has also spread into the country bringing about the fear of the language overtaking the Arabic language. Earlier, there was hesitation by the government to introduce the English language which they thought will introduce the western ways in the strict country.
History of English and Social Context
Historically, English emerged from dialects and languages which are now termed as Old English. English is one of the leading international languages and is learned widely as a second language. Also, the language is declared as an official language in most common wealth and European countries not forgetting many world organizations.
Many countries have introduced English as a foreign language. English is taught to students who come from countries whose first language is not English. Most people study in a class or privately with native or non-native teachers. For English teachers, they should be highly qualified since the requirements are considered from country to country. Some institutions require MA TESOL while in others it’s possible to teach without a degree or teaching certificate. A university degree in English is so valuable especially for those joining an English class since they need to relate to the teacher.
"In the last 35 years, and especially since the 1973 oil embargo, Saudi Arabia has come to play a significant role in global economy and politics." (Ali& Al-Shakhis, 1987). This has enhanced relationships among countries politically, economically and socially. Peolpe have been able to interact throughout the world due to the language thus moving from country to country. Students have been able to understand each other and enhance development in their countries by changing their traditional languages and deeds.
In Saudi Arabia students in Saudi schools attend formal English teaching for seven years where one year is for elementary school, three years in intermediate school and three years in secondary school. After graduation from secondary school most of the students are unable to use the language for communication purposes giving them a reason to take the subject as a lesson in colleges. In the past, English was a subject only for middle and secondary schools. So, involving English class at elementary levels was just a recent idea due to the importance of learning a new language from early levels. English teaching should be fully introduced to colleges in Saudi Arabia since this is where students get to interact with others from different races and countries. At this point student realize that they need to have a better flow of the language which is partly an international language otherwise they will feel left out (Al-Mohanna, 2010).
Current State of Teaching
Earlier, the students disliked the English as a subject and language while some teachers under estimated the subject. Also, due to Saudi Arabian tradition and cultural preferences the subject was studied up to secondary level. This prevented most of us who liked the subject to prosper giving us options to study abroad. Lack of proper tuition and training in the subject also gave most of us minimal opportunities to achieve our career goals, unless those of us who could afford to study in other countries, and whose parents were not succumbed into tradition.
Currently the state of English teaching has some problems like: Poor teacher training and inadequate and unsuitable materials. I believe that these problems should be examined in order to arrive with better ideas and methods of English speaking in Saudi Arabia. The learning skills that are very popular is concentrating on the input abilities only. Mostly, there is no much focusing on speaking skill. In order to solve these problems, the Education system should employ highly qualified teachers and imply the speaking and listening skills in all course's plans. Through this the institutions will be able to produce skilled English students who will become tutors in their own countries, instead of employing teachers from the developed countries who are very costly. The Institutions should also introduce fully equipped technological classes to students. This will also include use of tapes, overhead projectors and flash cards. The Colleges should use current English text books, internet surfing, read magazines and journals, newspapers and novels in order to acquire more facts.
Role of the Teacher
On a typical class the communication is fully centered to the teacher or tutor. The teacher is completely in control of the class from the start of the lesson to the end giving the students a limited opportunity to practice the language verbally. This shows that the atmosphere in the class reflects to that of traditional trends.
In Saudi Arabia English tutors have been playing different roles. The teachers take control of the class rooms .They should illustrate and explain the new items in the language while speaking to students sometimes or writing in the board, whereas the students listens, read or copy from the board. The Instructor is also responsible for playing a part to the establishment of English language curriculum, staying alert for new methods of teaching and working together with other tutors to ensure the program is delivered effectively. The typical learning activities for the students are answering questions, individual learning or chorus work. Currently, role play and games are used in order to make the students more engaged in the study and make them avoid boredom (Teaching English in Saudi Arabia, 2011).
Books or Materials used
The materials normally used in classrooms to teach the students earlier were textbooks and boards. Currently, introduction of charts pictures, magazines and other authentic materials has been introduced. English studying materials are displayed in classes which help the teachers enhance the study. But, there is a lack of using computers labs. Although, some schools has been equipped with computers' laps but they don't use it due to the fact that they are afraid that computers will be damaged. On the other hand, it should be used to aid the study of English language which is very helpful especially to those students studying individually. In fact, Introduction of flash cards and overhead projectors has been introduced in some colleges and universities.
Actually, physical learning should be introduced to avoid boredom among students in English classes and give them more encouragement. These should include poetry classes and singing lessons. Group discussions can also be of great importance especially with other institutions since this will give the students morale. Use of video tapes every now and then in classes can also be a great idea to students. The students should also be given full participation in classes instead of teachers taking full control of the class. All these changes can be made to improve English classes.
Assignments and Tests
In Saudi, there has been received numerous complains especially by the teacher concerning the few hours allocated for the English lessons. This has been reported mostly in secondary schools. In colleges, the area has been carefully analyzed and students are now taking the subject as a course. Students are given oral and written tests. Those English students who are preparing for graduate studies in abroad take Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) courses and IELTS examinations. TOEFL is the most highly recognized test in English globally.
Previous Career Experience and Goals
I didn’t work before because I was studying my BA. in English literature and had my training period two months in middle and secondary schools. After I graduated I came to USA and now I’m studying MA in Teaching English to Speaker of Other Languages "TESOL".
One of my career goals is that I am very determined to solve some issues with English and gather much information which will be of benefit to colleges in Saudi Arabia. Also, I plan to introduce the TESOL program in Saudi Arabia and teach college students. TESOL has been the place of change in so many countries who speak foreign languages. The program was introduced to help countries which do not speak English to learn the language. Since I will acquire MA in TESOL, I believe that I can make a big difference in Saudi Arabia in terms of English language.
In conclusion, Introduction of education has widely spread in the country currently, which has encouraged the interaction of various cultures in the country. Though there has been improvement in education in the country, lack of English language has been of great effect to the country. The country just came into wake the other day realizing that English is an international language which need be introduced as fast as possible especially if the country has to grow economically and business wise. In regards to this, teachers have been employed from outside the country to tutor students in colleges and universities not forgetting individual tuition as well.
Introduction of TESOL program in the country seems to be a better idea which can save the country from a lot of strain that it is facing now. TESOL as one of the recognized systems in English teaching in the world has developed the language worldwide and it’s going to be the savior for Saudi Arabian students. The program will help the students to learn English and still keep their native language. The tutors who train the program are highly qualified faculty with knowledge and expertise in the field. With TESOL, change is coming to Saudi Arabia.
Ali, A., & Al-Shakhis, M. (1987). Hierarchy of needs among school administrators in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Social Psychology, 127(2), 183-189.
Al-Mohanna, A. D. (2010, 01 25). English language teaching in Saudi Arabian context: How Communicatively Oriented is it? J. King Saud Univ., 22, 69-88.
Teaching English in Saudi Arabia. (2011). Retrieved October 05, 2011, from TeachAwayInc: http://www.teachaway.com/content/teaching-english-saudi-arabia/