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Title: Implementing Communicative Language Teaching Method in Saudi Arabia: Challenges Faced by Formative Year Teachers in State Schools
Authors: Abahussain, Majed Othman
Supervisor(s): Stokes, Anne
Bowker, David
Keywords: Implementation of Communicative Language Teaching Approach
Teaching English in Saudi Arabia
CHAT theory
Issue Date: 29-Jan-2016
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Abstract The demand for using the English language as a means of communication has increased substantially around the world because of its status as the language of globalisation, international communication, trade, media, and research (Flowerdew and Peacock 2001). The Saudi Ministry of Education (MoE) has considered this demand and taken significant steps to reform the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). For example, the aims of and documentation for the TEFL curriculum have been modified to focus on the four basic language skills and to promote students’ communicative competence. However, despite all these efforts, there has been little progress in the area of TEFL in KSA. Classroom teaching practices are still devoted to secondary purposes, such as teaching grammar, translating literary texts, memorisation, rote learning, and preparing for summative exams. This reality may indicate an incompatibility between the government’s efforts to develop TEFL and the practices used by English language teachers in their classes. This incompatibility, however, may also suggest that English language teachers have their own reasons for not teaching English for communicative purposes and are incapable of implementing innovative teaching methods, such as the Communicative Language Teaching approach (CLT). This study therefore explores the challenges faced by Saudi English teachers (SETs) in their teaching practice that might prevent them from teaching for communicative purposes and implementing CLT in their classes. In order to meet this objective, data obtained from interviews, questionnaires and documents were analysed and classified into various categories. The key findings revealed that the current methodological practices of SETs are traditional teaching methods that stress the dominant role of teachers, marginalise students’ interactions, focus on discrete skills, and encourage competitive rather than cooperative learning. Furthermore, by using CHAT theory as a framework, the study explored a range of challenges that SETs face when the implementing CLT. These challenges stem from the individual and contextual levels of SETs’ teaching practice. At the individual level, it emerged that SETs had some misconceptions about some of the main features of CLT, and were not sufficiently confident to run communicative classes and adopt CLT in their teaching practice. The data, moreover, suggested that these shortcomings were a result of the SETs’ pedagogical and linguistic preparation in their pre-service programmes. At the contextual level, the study data suggested that there were two main types of constraint that challenge SETs in terms of teaching for communicative purposes and applying CLT in their teaching practice. Firstly, there were institutional and situational factors (for example the quality of the in-service training programme, examination purposes and classroom structure), and, secondly, socio-cultural factors (such as the traditional view of education, and the status of the English language in the Saudi context) that seemed to be incompatible with teaching English for communicative purposes. The study concludes with recommendations that aim to help improve the current situation of TEFL in KSA. For example, ending the isolation between the key parties involved in EFL teaching and learning in the Saudi context is very important, and changes to pre-service and in-service programmes, as well as at the contextual levels, are also essential.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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