The normalization of English as the anticipated lingua franca in the context of the Saudi higher education is an essential topic that has warranted further discussion from an academic standpoint. Although the implementation of English as a lingua franca (ELF) in the Saudi academic environment might be met with a certain degree of suspicion due to the hegemony of the native language and Saudi traditions in the target setting, the concept of EFL is worth pursuing due to the options that it implies. By introducing ELF into the Saudi academic setting, one will create the grounds for the empowerment of students and the development of upward mobility in them due to the increase in the options for knowledge sharing and, therefore, further growth of the knowledge economy within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
The perspectives that the use of ELF in the KSA academic environment become completely transparent an quite inspiring wen considering the subject matter form the standpoint of Kachru’s Model. According to Kachru, the structure of relationships within the English-speaking academic community can be modelled using concentric circles, with the inner circle representing native speakers, the second circle being represented by the states where English is used in the academic context as a second language (ESL), and the third (outer) circle including the states where English is utilised mostly as a foreign language (Sridhar & Sridhar 2019).
The proposed change in the KSA learning environment, where the higher education will be represented by the system based on the principles promoted by Jenkins and Leung (2016), who view the practical application of ELF skills as the most important part of learning a language. This paper will incorporate Jennifer Jenkins’ views of ELF, which have undergone an explosive change and shifted from the analysis of pronunciation as a part of the ELF development to the idea of ELF being a “similect” as supported by Mauranen and, therefore, greater emphasis on the issues such as accommodation and code switching, instead (Mauranen 2018).
This paper will argue that the approach toward ELF learning based on viewing it as a similect will allow enhancing the promotion of ELF in the KSA higher education by addressing the difficulties associated with the promotion of communication skills and developing an intrinsic understanding of the English language.
English in Saudi Higher Education
The significance of English as the main tool for communication has increased exponentially in the KSA recently. To analyse the explosive popularity of the English language as the main communication tool in the KSA social and workplace environments, one will need to consider some of the recent changes in the requirements set for applicants for most jobs in the KSA labour market. According to Alotaibi (2019), most of employers in the KSA business sector expect candidates to be proficient or, at the very least, fluent in English.
Indeed, looking closer at recent job requirements in the KSA lab or market, one will realise that the requirement of being able to use English as a second language in workplace communication has become ubiquitous in the KSA economic setting (Hameed 2016). The trend in question has been reinforced by the creation of multiple business and commercial ties with the U.S., as well as other states where English is used as the language for intercultural communication (Le Ha & Barnawi 2015).
When applying the specified analysis to the educational context, the necessity for the participants of the academic discourse to learn ELF becomes completely apparent. As the recent study by Al-Ahdal and Al-Mashaqba (2016) proves, in the KSA environment, English as gained the status of the “sole common language denominator” over the past few decades, defining several crucial aspects of the current employment situation. Specifically, the results of the study shed light on the use of English in the KSA setting as the means of increasing the efficacy of communication, the volume of transferred information, and the extent of collaboration between the participants of the workplace dialogue and the communication between an employee and an employer (p. 2).
The trend of transferring the workplace communication process to the environment where English is used as the lingua franca has been seen as quite progressive in the KSA, in general, although the pressure that the task of learning English as a foreign language (EFL) has been questioned as extra pressure being put on learners in a rather tense academic setting (Le Ha & Barnawi 2015). Nonetheless, the importance of being able to use English language proficiently has been exponentially high in the KSA employment sector recently, which suggests that changes have to be implemented at the academic level to provide learners with career opportunities.
In addition, the introduction of ELF into the KSA academic culture has also become inevitable for sociocultural reasons. Specifically, the task of hiring native Arabic speakers as teachers in higher educational institutions has become quite complicated due to religious issues and the relate concerns. Specifically, Alrashidi and Phan (2015) explain that the concept of single-sex education has been particularly prominent in the KSA context, which suggests that a range of native Arabic speakers may refuse the job opportunity of teaching in the higher education setting that can be described as inclusive of both male and female learners.
According to Alrashidi and Phan (2015), “Because the single-sex education system is based on the principles of both the Islamic religion and Arabic culture, countries prophesising Islam have a propensity for such a system” (p. 35). Herein lies the main reason for hiring people from other cultural and ethnic backgrounds to teach in the KSA higher education setting (Siddiqi 2019). These include people of Indian, Pakistani, and Asian descents, who are placed in the outer circle of Kachru’s model (Siddiqi 2019). As a result, the teachers’ ability to communicate in Arabic is often restricted. Given the necessity to convey quite complex ideas to learners in the higher education environment, teachers in question have to resort to using English as the teaching language to avoid possible misunderstandings and the threat of leaving learners misinformed (Alenazi 2014).
Consequently, the process of transitioning to ELF in the KSA educational context has been launched already, occurring at a natural pace. Despite the positive aspects of ELF being established in the KSA academic environment naturally, the lack of control over the specified change raises the questions regarding the efficacy of students’ language learning and their further ability to use it in the academic and workplace environments (Al-Ahdal & Al-Awaid 2018). Therefore, tools for controlling the process and assisting both teachers and students to transition to a new model of the academic discourse is strongly needed.
The model of ELF introduction into the KSA environment described above could use some changes according to the progression of views expressed by Jenkins in her works. Specifically, the idea that ELF needs to be developed through consistent communication as opposed to drilling of grammatical rules, to which Jenkins transitioned in her exploration of ELF teaching and lerning, is especially important for the promotion of ELF in the KSA higher education context.
The observed trend in religion and politics standing in the way of education and preventing students from receiving the much needed knowledge and skills can hardly be seen as a neutral phenomenon. However, the complexity of the Saudi political, sociocultural, and religious history of interacting with other states and their citizens does not allow for an unambiguous and unequivocal assessment of the situation, not to mention the actual resolution of the long-lasting confrontation.
Moreover, the argument against the use of the English language as the middle ground for communication between teachers and students in the KSA academic environment has been seen as the most reasonable solution to the problem of providing learning opportunities for KSA students. Specifically, Onsman (2012) posits that, while English as a medium of instruction (EMI) can be interpreted as the presence of cultural hegemony, the described perspective forces one to view EMI solely from the learning perspective as opposed from considering a multidimensional aspect of the process. Specifically, the opportunity for teaching students a greater amount of information and giving them the chance to develop the competencies required in the modern employment context needs to be regarded as the priority.
The described step aligns with the change in Jenkins’ perception of ELF as a phenomenon, with the principles of developing the core skills in ELF being a perfect example of the described change. While Jenkins never denied the possibility of ELF skills acquisition, the presence of core abilities that defined the future progress was a new discovery that allowed shaping the perception of teaching and learning ELF (). Thus, the idea of developing ELF skills by encouraging communication and promoting the cross-cultural dialogue emerged, leading additional opportunities for students in higher education settings, such as the KSA universities.
Therefore, the management of the problem at hand can only be considered currently from the perspective of locating other hiring options, which include recruiting teachers from non-Saudi background, hence poor skills in communicating in Arabic (Al-Hazmi 2017). The described problem, in turn, is naturally resolved by the transition from the Saudi language of teaching to English (Alenazi 2014). Consequently, the process of establishing English as the lingua franca of communication within the KSA academic environment has currently been reinforced in a natural way as a response to the lack of other communication options available to student and teachers.
The introduction of ELF at the state-wide level will help in improving the quality of education and assist teachers in building the dialogue with student to motivate them and provide them with the necessary knowledge and information. Moreover, once both teachers and students are capable of using English as the lingua franca in the academic environment, options for better feedback provided to students, as well as more coherent guidance offered by teachers will become possible. Finally, ELF will allow establishing the philosophy of cross-disciplinary collaboration between teachers so that they could encourage students to gain the needed skills faster.
Conceptual Background of ELF
While the notion of lingua franca, as well as the use of English for the specified purpose, might seem as easily understandable, the multiple interpretations that the notion of ELF may undergo are likely to affect the efficacy of introducing the proposed change into the KSA environment adversely. Therefore, a clear definition of ELF and the notion of the lingua franca, in general, will be needed. Remarkably, the phenomenon of lingua franca has several interpretations in the modern literature, the most common iteration being that one of a “contact language between persons who share neither a common native tongue nor a common (national) culture” (Pitzl 2018, p. 11).
The specified definition, although being quite broad, allows encompassing the nature of lingua franca and the purpose of it, positioning the subject matter as the premise for forwarding the development of cross-cultural communication, at the same time avoiding misconceptions that may occur when using the native tongue of one of the interlocutors (Khan 2016).
Another perspective, which is closer to the implementation of ELF in the academic context, is offered by Hynninen (2016), who posits that lingua franca is “by definition learned as a second language by at least some of its speakers” (p. 11). The proposed perspective places the emphasis on learning, thus setting LF into the context of the academic environment. Consequently, the author makes the logical conclusion that “A lingua franca is thus defined by its function as a common language of communication between speakers who do not share an L1” (Hynninen 2016, p. 11).
The proposed definition of lingua franca is much more applicable to the context of the academic setting, where language is used not only to convey crucial information but also to enable students to undertake self-directed learning and become capable of gaining, processing, and transferring knowledge independently.
The specified iterations of the concept of a lingua franca allow approaching the phenomenon of ELF as the tool for constructing the dialogue in the academic setting. A study conducted lately on the subject of ELF explores the latter as the paradigm that allows for communication between “speakers who have different first languages” and has introduced audiences to the possible challenges that the specified definition may pose challenges in introducing audiences to the notion of ELF (Alenaziu 2014, p. 91). Therefore, as a general notion, the phenomenon of ELF can be seen as the strategy used to transcend cultural boundaries and linguistic barriers in order to establish academic discourse and allow the participants to share and acquire knowledge.
Given the definition provided above, the significance of ELF in communication can be defined as extraordinarily high. While ELF does not eradicate every possible instance of misunderstanding caused by a culture clash or differences in the language perspective, it still offers the middle ground for the participants to use in order to share their ideas. In their assessment of the impact that ELF has on communication within the academic setting, Alhaisoni (2012) mentions the fluidity of English grammar as a crucial characteristic that allows participants of the dialogue to understand each other despite imperfections in their usage of the English language.
In addition, the notion of ELF needs to be analysed from the perspectives of bi- and multilingualism. While the concept of lingua franca is quite far away from those of bilingualism and multilingualism, it, in fact, supports the philosophy that may encourage one o develop bi- or multilingual skills. The integration of ELF principles into the academic setting in the KSA environment is expected to prompt the increase in the number of bi- and multilingual students since the latter will need to prepare for using ELF in the academic setting and, therefore, are likely to be enrolled into English courses by their parents (Aldosari & Alsultan 2017).
Thus, the introduction of ELF into the academic setting is expected to foster the culture in which being able to speak English becomes an essential skill that everyone has to possess in order to obtain education, get a job, and become a functioning member of the KSA society.
Moreover, the promotion of ELF on the level of higher education in the KSA is very likely to spark the development of what Jenkins and Leung (2017) referred to as the “dynamic bilingualism” (p. 8). According to Seidlhofer and Widdowson (2017), developing competence in a second language to the point of building bi- and multilingual skills is entirely possible when considering language as a system in which its components remain in a dynamic relationship as opposed to the structure where every item has a rigid and completely unmovable position.
Therefore, promoting the perception of English that suggests viewing it as a live and constantly changing system that involves active interactions, teachers will create premises for learners to build linguistic skills actively and effectively. Likewise, Mauranen posits that bilingualism can be taught to students once the use of the language is considered from the practical perspective (Mauranen & Jenkins 2019).
The notions of bilingualism and multilingualism are very tightly knit together when being viewed from the perspective provided above. As Jenkins and Leung (2018) posit, with the inclusion of ELF along with bi- and multilingual practices into the target setting, the latter two concepts and especially multilingualism will no longer be viewed as exceptional phenomena but, instead, receive the status of a cultural norm (El Alaoui et al. 2019). As a result, the proficiency of KSA citizens’ English-speaking skills will be elevated to a new level, allowing them to enjoy a significantly larger extent of opportunities in their academic progress, personal life, and professional career (Naeem & Muijtjens 2015).
The perspective that the promotion of bi- and multilingualism introduces into students’ understanding of the language, culture, and learning will transcend the traditional perception of the specified notions as social constructs and help to envision the process of education as the interaction within “multiple meaning-making systems and subjectivities” both between student and among students and educators (Jenkins & Leung 2017, p. 9). Consequently, learners will perceive language not only as a method of communication but also as the system of signs built in connection to a particular culture, with the following exploration of the systematic and random differences in the structure of languages affected by their sociocultural evolution, which aligns with the similect perspective suggested by Mauranen (2014).
The described change will evoke the language understanding of the exact depth needed to build bi- and multilingual skills in learners. While the development of bi- and multilingual skills is typically associated with early childhood, the acquisition of the specified linguistic abilities is possible at the later stages of cognitive development, as studies show (Yushau & Omar 2015). In her studies, Jenkins (2013) has also emphasized the importance of early childhood learning in the development of ELF.
However, later on, the assessment of opportunities for adult ELF students performed by Jenkins has also shown that older students also have substantial opportunity to gain ELF skills and build the multicultural dialogue within the global community. The described change in the linguistic discourse will serve a tremendous role in promoting the significance of diversity in the education setting (Jenkins 2016). As a result, learners will be provided with the chance to construct unique language identities that will embrace the phenomena of bilingualism and multilingualism encouraging students to acquire new skills and knowledge. In fact, the development of the said identifies is expected to produce a highly positive impact on the students’ language-learning capacities, as the results of recent research show.
According to the study by Sung (2017), students that are exposed to the idea of bilingualism and ELF create the self-ascribed identities that help them to explore English as both language learners and language users. The latter is particularly significant for the enhancement of learners’ motivation in building the required skill set and applying ELF skills to communicate with others (Cenoz 2019). The variable identities that learners can construct when studying ELF from the specified perspective allows them to utilise their skills in different contexts and practice speaking English as a native speaker would, thus creating prerequisites for the development of bi- and multilingual skills.
The Awareness of ELF in Saudi Higher Education
As emphasised above, the importance of learning English as the lingua franca in the academic environment is gaining increasingly more traction in the KSA higher education context. However, the current levels of awareness are still comparatively low given the fact that the notion of ELF as an indispensable element of the KSA higher education has not been placed on the state-wide agenda yet (Fang 2019). Therefore, building greater awareness can be seen as one of the main goals currently.
Prioritising the concept of awareness as the basis for developing further language skills in students should be interpreted as the priority in the KSA higher educational environment presently since it will launch a series of changes in students’ and teachers’ attitudes and behaviours toward the management of language skills and their application to the academic context (Seargeant et al. 2017). The described change should be related first to how teachers and students perceive the very concept of using ELF in the academic environment.
Specifically, the target audience needs to recognise the necessity to build practical skills as the main goal, whereas the mechanics of the language use should not stand in the way of applying the learned information to practice in the academic setting. The specified attitude should not imply that the correctness of language should not be validated as an important issue in language acquisition. Instead, students and teachers should be encouraged to use the language without being afraid of making errors but, instead, be able to analyse these errors afterward in order to elicit important information and not to make the same mistake once again.
In this regard, Jenkins’ transition from the enhancement of the importance of ELF, in general, to the transfer of ELF into the higher educational environment needs to be noted as an important transition (Jenkins, 2013). The idea of incorporating the ELF standards into the academic environment offers an ample amount of opportunities to pursue in regard to the academic progress of learners, the opportunity to share knowledge on the global level being the key one.
A close overview of the present situation in the KSA academic setting will reveal that the development of ELF skills typically starts by following the letter of grammar excruciatingly closely and focusing on the form represented in the classroom rather than exploiting function that the language plays in class communication (Raja, Albasher & Farid 2016). The observed practice has a clearly stifling effect on students’ ability to utilise language freely in the academic setting. The presence of multiple restrictions and the fear of making a mistake may paralyses the learning process, causing learners to prefer abstaining from the ELF communication rather than participating in it actively.
Thus, the current approach lacks the system that could help students see the general picture of how a language is constructed and how it can be used in any context. As a result, the vicious circle closes, preventing learners from building the skill set needed to develop proficiency in English (Al-Seghayer 2015). Therefore, it is crucial to develop the teaching approach rooted in the promotion of active usage of English in different contexts as opposed to memorising the rules by heart. The specified framework meets the criteria for language learning set by Jenkins and Leung (2016) as the main tool for encouraging interactions between students and teachers, as well as among learners form different backgrounds in the academic context.
To address the specified concern, one will need to take a look at the linguistic differences between English and Arabic from the perspective of sociocultural factors that shaped them. Belonging to different language families (Germanic and Semitic respectively), the specified languages share very few characteristics in common, which makes the transfer form Arabic to English quite challenging for a number of students. For this purpose, introducing the tools that would help learners to explore and embrace the differences between the two languages will be highly required. First, students will need to understand the differences in the use of verbs in connection to the nouns for which they are expected to express a particular action or state.
For instance, it will be critical to explain to the target audience how the -s inflection in a verb used in the Present Simple Tense is related to the use of the third person perspective in a sentence (Mitchell & Alfuraih 2017). Since the described paradigm is absent from the Arabic language, the issue of suffixes in verbs has to be scrutinised very closely by students and explained very meticulously by teachers so that learners could understand how the English language works. As a result, students will embrace the linguistic differences between Arabic and English (Galbrun & Kitapci 2016). More importantly, students may make connections between English and Arabic when learning about the nuances mentioned above, as well as similar grammatical categories of the English language.
The issue of structure is another crucial point of difference between the English and Arabic language, which may impede students from being able to speak English freely without mistakes. Specifically, the fact that in Arabic, one does not necessarily have to follow a very rigid verbal structure of a sentence as one does in English makes the process of communicating ideas in English quite complicated for Arabic learners. Thus, the emphasis on studying verbs and various verbal structures should be regarded as the critical point of ELF in the KSA higher educational institutions (Alikurthee et al. 2019).
The differenced between finite and non-finite forms of verbs, as well as the presence of irregular verbs in the English language, will also require in-depth learning and a profound analysis with comparison to the Arabic language and references to it in regard to the substitutes that it has for the specified verbal constructions (Logan 2019). As a result of the specified foray into the syntax of the English language and the grammatical structure of sentences, as well as the use of verbs to express different meanings, will help learners to gain the skills needed to use ELF in the academic context.
The grammatical awareness in speaking the English language as a lingua franca in the academic context should also include the difference in the perception of the singular and plural in certain nouns. For example, it is noteworthy that a range of nouns that are used only in plural in English come in singular in Arabic, and vice versa (Hafis & Omar 2018). The described differences are inevitable due to the difference in cultural perspectives, language history, cultural influences, and other factors that have affected the current state of the English and Arabic languages (Farooq, Gulnaz & Umer 2015).
Thus, to gain insight into how English works and what makes it different from Arabic, students need to scrutinise the differences between English and Arabic nouns closer. The specified perspective will offer learners the awareness needed to build sufficient English speaking skills, as well as understand the internal logic according to which notions and concepts are formed in the English language (Al-Madani & EL-Sakran 2017).
It is believed that the described practice will help students to use language in context correctly with due awareness as opposed to mindless reiteration of the words and phrases that they have learned by heart. Thus, the current focus should be placed on the sue of English in corresponding environments in contrast to the present system of mindless memorising of rules detached from language practice.
Factors Behind the Challenges of ELF Implementation in Saudi Universities
Despite the recent spur in the development of English-speaking skills in the KSA students and the contemplations concerning the idea of establishing ELF principle in the higher education setting on a state-wide level in the KSA, there are several sever impediments to introducing the ELF principles and launching the ELF leaning process in the target KSA setting. The process of introducing ELF into the KSA setting may lead to extra complications due to the implications of a disagreement concerning the nature of a lingua franca as a concept.
The lack of cultural awareness and the importance of cultures fusing to enrich each other and transform the speakers’ perspective of language as a communication tool may ultimately fil due to the lack of awareness. According to Jenkins and Leung (2017), the use of the subject matter and its integration into the academic setting helps to build multilingual competence, which “involves languages “bleeding” into each other, and thus differing in crucial ways from monolingual competence” (p. 7).
At the same time, Jenkins and Leung (2017) emphasise the desperate state of research concerning the effects of multilingual environments and the application of ELF techniques into the academic context in the KSA educational setting: “this multilingual functioning receives no attention in language testing practices” (p. 7). Therefore, further studies are desperately demanded to spur the development of the much needed change in the perception of ELF as the method of bringing new insights and knowledge into the KSA science and research.
When developing testing practices, one should be particularly aware of the importance of incorporating the standards that will not only define the learners’ progress but also inform the further approaches toward promoting the development of ELF-related competencies in them. The described perspective meets the standards set by Jenkins and Leung (2016), who encourage the concept of intelligibility as the foundational idea on which the framework of testing should reside. To encourage students to become “competent users” in accordance with Jenkins and Leung’s (2016) philosophy, one will need to create the testing practices that will allow checking whether students are capable of transferring the newly learned information to live communication.
For this reason, simulations of communication with native speakers should be created for KSA students to prove that they have a full understanding of how the English language works. In addition to using the learned phrases in the correct context, students will also need to show the ability of shape these phrases and create new constructions according to the provided examples in order to convey specific information (Alharbi 2015). Moreover, it is critical to test learners’ abilities to receive information and understand English’s speech, hence the necessity to create simulations during which students will be immersed into the English-speaking environment.
Teachers’ Attitudes Towards English
Arguably, the introduction of the ELF principles into the environment of the KSA higher education will require substantial support due to the possible issues with the management of resistance to change among teachers. As explained above, the lack of motivation may stifle the process of developing an ELF-based system of communication in the higher educational environment, which, in turn, will reduce the quality of teaching and the efficacy of learning (Alharbi 2015).
Therefore, tools for motivating teachers to adopt ELF principles to communicate with students more effectively will be strongly required. These may include incentives as the means of raising teachers’ motivation to use ELF in their communication with learners. In addition, due to the possible lack of proficiency in English among teachers, various courses and training options will have to be set for educators. Thus, the extent to which ELF will be used in the higher education environment will rise.
Finally, personal beliefs of teachers will have to be addressed as one of the primary issues that may impede the process of promoting ELF on the state-wide level as the academic policy in the higher education environment. Teachers may be reluctant to use emergent English norms and promote the vocabulary and grammatical norms that have become far too outdated, which is why a conversation regarding the issue has to be established between educators and local authorities. As soon as the concerns of both sides are heard, the development of the solution that will provide the middle ground for developing an ELF curriculum will be created.
The described ideas reflect the stance that Jenkins (2015) has developed over time by transitioning from the idea of ELF as a general notion to the development of tools and techniques for teaching ELF in the environment of the International University. By structuring the virtual edifice of the setting where students will be able to share their knowledge across the globe, educators will contribute to the development of science, and ELF will serve as the main pillar for this change.
Similarly to teachers, a range of students in the KSA higher education setting tend to believe that any deviation from the established norm within the English language should be seen as inappropriate for further usage. The specified perception needs to be challenged so that students could gain new skills and observe the changes that currently take place in English, thus using the language in the way that native speakers do (Al-Nasser 2015).
The described intention can be implemented once learners are familiarised with the concept of fossilisation of language and the strategies that can be used to avoid it. The significance of considering the changes in language use in the countries where it is spoken as a native tongue have to be combined with the study of the existing norms. Thus, learner swill develop a clear vision of how the English language has developed and how it is currently evolving in its cultural context. The described insight will allow students to use the acquired ELF skills as the means of communicating their ideas in a clear and accurate manner, both paying attention to the established norms of the language, while simultaneously taking notice of the recent changes to English and how it is used in the academic discourse.
As a result, students in the KSA higher education environment will be able to operate complex terminology that their chosen field of study requires, at the same time remaining clear in their message and interesting to listen to in an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural academic discussion.
The Future Use of English in Saudi
Despite the difficulties associated with the integration of the ELF into the contemporary KSA higher education setting, the future of English in the KSA is believed to be quite bright given the current trends. There has been a stunning increase e in the number of people that have developed English speaking skills. Specifically, more students decide to acquire English language skills every day due to the opportunities that proficiency in English opens for them in terms of the access to educational materials, academic training opportunities, and future career options (Yao, Garcia & Collins 2019).
Moreover, with the rise in the pace of globalisation and the focus on creating business ties between companies from different countries, the KSA has built quite a few links with international partners, thus inciting the process of cross-cultural communication, which has to occur in ELF in most cases (Alnasser 2018). Therefore, the process of promoting ELF has been launched already, with multiple prerequisites having indicated the necessity to transfer to the ELF framework in education and business (Yao et al. 2019). However, the speed at which ELF is spread across the kSA academic community is currently poorly controlled, which leads to uneven results in learners’ acquiring the needed ELF skills (Alnasser 2018). Consequently, tools for reinforcing the control over the specified process and ensuring that learners are heading in the right direction with the process of developing critical skills is highly required.
Given the change in Jenkins’ views regarding the development of ELF skills and the very concept of ELF as the language that can be learned by anyone in any context, the opportunity of building core ELF skills and using them to engage in cross-cultural communication in the KSA higher education setting has risen significantly.
Moreover, when viewing the future use of English in the KSA setting on a larger scale, one will have to recognise the importance of ELF not only for education and career opportunities but also for the progress of the state and the improvement of its integration with other countries on an international level. With the adoption of the ELF framework in the academic environment of the KSA higher education, one will prompt the development of economy, which, in turn, will entail closer cooperation with foreign partners.
As companies develop and expand from the local KSA economic setting into the global market, the use of ELF will be highly required to ensure that no information transferred across organisations’ supply chains is lost, misinterpreted, or misconstrued in any way (Mueller 2018). Thus, the promotion of the ELF framework in the higher education context is absolutely indispensable for the progress of the KSA and its citizens, including learners of higher educational institutions.
For the reasons specified above, it is expected that English will have quite a bright future in the KSA once its significance is recognised. Programs aimed at English teachers preparation are expected to emerge fast due to the ostensible rise in demand for highly competent ELF teachers and the necessity to promote bi- and multilingualism in learners at the earliest stages possible so that they could enter the realm of higher education with the sufficient knowledge of English.
Overall, the current prospects for the ELF system development in the KSA seem to be promising. As long as KSA education authorities recognise the importance of controlling the development of skills in the target population. The enhancement of the use of ELF and the options that communication in the global academic setting will open to learners justifies the efforts and resources that will have to be put into the development of an ELF-based program.
Specifically, with the introduction of EKF principles into the KSA higher education setting and the advancement of the international scientific discourse in the KSA academic context, students will get a chance to study in the UK, U.S., Canada, and Australia, where they will gain the experience and knowledge that will encourage further development of research in the KSA. Moreover, sharing the experience in academic and other areas will encourage future collaboration not only in the educational environment but also in social and economic contexts between the KSA citizens and those in UK, U.S., Canada, and Australia.
Overall, the changes in Jenkins’ views regarding the promotion of ELF as a similect on the global scale can be interpreted as a perfect tool for institutionalizing change in the Saudi Arabian higher education setting by implementing LF principles in it. Specifically, the idea that language can be learned as a tool for cross-cultural communication with the focus on grammar being shifted into the background and the active promotion of learning practical English speaking skills being regarded as the main vehicle for promoting effective communication. Therefore, the interpretation of ELF that Jenkins promoted has changed significantly over time, with her views being shifted to the idea of language practice over the focus on grammatical correctness.
The change in Jenkins’ interpretation of ELF plays a crucial role in promoting it to the higher education setting, particularly, in the kSE. Due to the options for access to knowledge and the chances to share it with other members of the English academic environment as it is described in Kachru’s Model, the KSA authorities in education should consider establishing English as the lingua franca for interactions in the educational context.
Although the specified change will demand a vast and quite substantial effort, establishing ELF in the KSA academic environment will lead to a significant progress in empowering students and encouraging the development of science and research. For this purpose, teaching language awareness to learners will be a crucial step, which will increase the extent of students’ understanding of how the knowledge of English will shape their further progress.
The promotion of ELF in the KSA higher educational setting is expected to encounter certain obstacles, most of which will be represented by possible reluctance and the resulting resistance from teachers and students. However, the shift from the Arabic language to English as the LF for communication between the key agents of the academic process will send ripples across the entire academic environment of the KSA, allowing students to gain new intelligibility and make communicative efforts, thus creating the premises for the continuous scholarly dialogue between the members of the global academic environment. Therefore, resistance, which is to be observed among students and teachers, needs to be addressed at the sociocultural and institutional levels by proving the benefit of ELF to the KSA knowledge economy to teachers and the opportunities for professional growth to learners.
Thus, the importance of the integration of ELF in the KSA environment is currently very high, and it is growing exponentially as the KSA employment and educational sectors develop. To advance the process of institutionalising ELF in the KSA academic environment, one may advice to increase the awareness about the subject matter by introducing changes to the perception of ELF at the sociocultural level by promoting the use of ELF in training and the KSA schools’ curricula, in general.
Thus, one will invite teachers and learners to familiarise themselves with English-based communication in the context of the academic environment through the use of English-language textbooks, adhering to new school policies, and undergoing the tests that will help to identify their progress in learning English. The creation of ELF-informed materials should also be seen as the task of utmost importance for educators in the KSA academic environment.
Furthermore, the fact that teachers can develop important insights form foreign researchers and their studies should not be forgotten. It is critical to consider the recommendations from respective resources addressing the implementation of ELF techniques in the higher education setting to produce the strategies that will help to engage learners and encourage them to acquire self-directed learning skills as the gateway to building bilingual and multilingual abilities.
The observed change will take place in the higher education context in order to help students to develop flexibility to the current demands in the employment sector and gain sufficient career options. Moreover, the transfer to an ELF-based education system will serve a greater purpose for the KSA academic environment, in general, promoting an international scholarly dialogue and promoting knowledge sharing on a cross-cultural level. Incorporating the specified elements into the process s of learning is expected to become highly effective in motivating both educators and learners, as well as guide them through the process of applying their new language skills to live communication and the related situations.
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