Methods of Teaching English Through the Curriculum in Saudi Arabia


Expansion of oil industry in Saudi Arabia crystallised the need for the country to develop programs for foreign language training (Brien 2003, p 34). The significance of the programs was to teach the country’s government, citizens as well as the oil firms within the country on foreign languages. It also aimed at teaching these parties, the positions to take during decision-making processes in the international environment. By 1970, the huge revenue the country generated from the sale of oil enable the government to launch these programs in large scale (Braine, 2005 p.54; Coleman, 2011).

Statement of Problem

The introduction of English in the country’s curriculum has imposed its challenges to the students in learning institutions. The learners face three main challenges. First, they have faced with the challenges of understanding both written and spoken English. Secondly, they have been unable to read and understand implied contexts in English. Lastly, students have been incapable to express themselves in English through written messages or communicative oral skills (Al Subahi, n.d).

The main objective of these programs was to create infrastructure, improve telecommunication, education, social welfare, health, water, etc (Berson et al, n.d). For all this to be implemented the country needed to import labour whose common language was English. Due to the necessity stipulated by the government, the country’s policy makers introduced English into their curriculum to prepare individuals who could take assignment requiring English knowledge (Braine, 2005 p.45; Ministry of Education, 1990).

Purpose of Study

The objective of the study is to identify methods that can be used in the English curriculum of Saudi Arabia to teach and motivates students to learn. Achievement of this objective is enhanced through reviewing the current English syllabus in relation to the needs of the learners.

Literature Review

Studies has revealed that native Arab speaker of Saudi Arabia have faced a challenge learning English in both spoken and written language. This is attributed to the presence of a few English instructors who are native speakers of Arabic. Moreover, students have little interaction with native speaker of English language. This therefore gives the learners little opportunities to learn through natural interaction (Rabab’ah, n.d p.62).

The first learning institution in Saudi Arabia was established in 1927 this was also when French and English language was introduced into the curriculum. The main characteristic of this education system was that it did not have a specified syllabus. This was introduced in 1953 with a definitive syllabus stipulated in the intermediate level of learning (Gardener et al, 1959.). The syllabus, which was originally imported from Egypt, established English classes for both intermediate and secondary level (Alamri, 2008).

This system faced challenges in those native dwellers of Saudi Arabia who did not see the need for the foreign languages. Furthermore, the country had a high level of illiteracy as well as a high number of people living below the poverty line. This caused the progress of learning to be relatively slow. Educational policies were formulated and its main objective was to teach student foreign languages for them to learn and understand in correct and comprehensive manner (Lilton &Ali 2011p.55; Alamri, 2008).

Over the years, studies have revealed that use of motivational techniques has played a key role in developing learning of English within the foreign countries. However, few schools have utilised this strategies to improve learning of the foreign language. Additionally, studies have demonstrated the relationship between integrative motivation and performance (Alrabai, 2011 p.60).

In this case, learning motivation is defined as a process of combining effort, positive attitude and desire with the aim of learning a new language. Theories put forward by Robert Gardner Wallace Lambert (1959, 1972) have formed basis for motivational methods that can be used by teachers in the learning students. Assumptions of these theories held that the attitude of students towards a specified language influences the effectiveness of successfully learning the language.

The educational approaches used for motivations are categorised into three categories i.e. the language level, the learning-situation level and the level of learners. Here, the motivation approaches used in language level is integrative and instrumental motivation. The approach used in learning-situation level is the components concerning the course, group of learners as well as the teachers. In the ‘level of learners’ the approach used is self-efficacy and attribution of motivation (McGrath, 2002 p.20; Khafaji, 2004 p.62).

Research Questions

Some of the research questions used to identify effective methods of teaching English and motivation in Saudi Arabia are as follows.

  1. What is the objective of the EFL classes?
  2. What is the perception of learners to the objectives?
  3. How what are the resources available to achieve stipulated objectives?
  4. What is the attitude of learners and teachers towards using Arabic in EFL classes?
  5. What it the use of the use of Arabic put in EFL classes?
  6. What are the frequently used motivational strategies? Why?


To identify the teaching methods that can be used to teach and motivate students in Saudi Arabia, a sample forty of teachers were sampled from the EFL classes. The participants comprised of male and female instructors. The participants were individuals who had different working experience, educational background, qualification and age ranging from 20 years – 50 years.

A sample of forty students was also used in the study to identify the perception and attitudes of students in the classrooms. Additionally, the group of students were used to identify the different motivational strategies that play significant roles of improving learning of the foreign language.

Methods the methods used to collect data include use of self –report questionnaires, a post-lesson teacher evaluation scale and observation instrument that monitored the students. The questionnaires developed by the study were used to identify the perceptions of participants to objectives of the English syllabus. Again, it was used to identify, rate, frequent techniques used in classes for motivational purposes. Other methods used to collect data were observation and interviews.

The assumption underlying the study is that the objectives of the syllabus were aimed to promote English language among the students. Similarly, the assumptions held that technique used can be implemented the curriculum to bring positive effects to the student. Thirdly, the assumptions held that the methods and techniques used to teach and motivate students are viable across ethno-linguistic and cultural dimensions (Khafaji, 2004 p.71).


The results of the study revealed that there is existence positive interrelationship between motivational teaching practices and their student’s language learning. The study revealed a number of methods effective to teach and motivate learners using the Saudi Arabia curriculum. The first method that has played a major role is the identification of goals, needs of students. This forms a basis for formulating strategies into the teaching curriculum.

The second technique involves relating the content of the subject to every day scenarios as well as the student’s backgrounds. This improves the understanding of the language for the students. Additionally, tutors should break down the routine of learning activities into diverse range of tasks. This improves the interests and keenness of students (Al Subahi, n.d).

The studies also revealed that both the students and the instructors preferred minimum use of Arabic language. The reason for this is that both parties wanted to increase the opportunity for practice of the English language. Furthermore, participants stated that the use of the language in the EFL classes contributed in the improvement of confidence and understanding for the language. Attitudes of the participants showed that use of Arabic language is an unavoidable strategy to improve learning (McGrath, 2002 23; Al-Nofaie, 2010).

Moreover, the teachers can select tasks during the course study to that requires every student to participate. This entails giving clear instructions of the tasks as well as guiding and assisting learners in the various steps of the learning tasks. Again, the study reveals that it is important for teachers to explain the goals and objectives of the tasks before performing them (Keller, 2000 p.44).


There are a number of methods that can be taught in the learning institution of Saudi Arabia. From the participant’s perspective, the most effective method of teaching and motivating learners is through demonstrating proper teaching behaviour. The study revealed that the conduct of the EFL instructor directly affects the learning levels of students. It also has a powerful motivational influence on students (Arishi, 1994 p.68). The conducts of the teachers in this case is categorised in three main categories

  1. The teacher’s commitment to the academic progress of every student
  2. The teacher’s passion, attitude and enthusiasm in teaching the foreign language
  3. The relationship of teachers and students in the EFL classes

The second effective method of training students in the curriculum of Saudi Arabia is through building self-confidence to individual learner. The study establishes that student’s perception and attitudes towards literature plays a significant role in improving levels of learning English. This aspect determines how much effort a learner devotes in performing learning tasks facilitated in EFL classes (Maherzi 2011 p.22, Al Hajailan, 2003 p.83).

Other effective methods that findings of the study showed include improving the satisfaction of the learner as well as improving learner’s expectancy to succeed in the program (Penny, 1996 p.37. This two attributes have promoted satisfaction of the outcome both intrinsically and extrinsically. As both methods recognise the efforts of learners and monitors their progress.


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