The students of king Abdulaziz University have been studying English since the introduction of the subject in the curriculum. The government has stressed the importance of English and has therefore invested heavily in ensuring that the students are able to learn English to ensure that the education system and the students are competitive globally as English is the main language that is used globally by professionals. However, even after investing in the study of the language, there seems to be little success in the learning of language, as the students are not able to speak the language fluently. This paper will study the English skill learning skill strategy of King Abdulaziz University, which is among the leading university in Saudi Arabia and the region, as well as to determine the strategies employed by the students. In addition, the paper will seek to determine future steps that may be used to help improve the English speaking skills of not only the members of the university, but also the other youth in Saudi Arabia.
Learning is a complex strategy that involves many other processes including the understanding of all the concepts being taught. Therefore, for education to be successful, there must be leaning. Institutions therefore take measures to ensure that the students are able to learn what is being taught; however, in effect that education takes place without learning, the education process is rendered a waste of time and resources. Among the hardest education tasks is teaching a language that is not native to the region, and the students have therefore not acquired the language naturally. In this case, the students who learn the languages in a classroom setting often fail to acquire the functional ability of the language (Haron, et al.2010, p.1).
In Saudi Arabia, English is not acquired naturally and is mainly taught in a classroom setting; the naturally acquired language of the Saudi students is Arabic. The institutions that teach English must therefore develop different strategies to enable the students learn and improve their English skill. In contemporary environment, English is slowly being integrated into the language used to teach other subjects. However, there are people who have questioned the use of English mainly due to the reason that it is taught as a foreign language and is not yet the official language of Saudi Arabia, yet most of the courses in learning institutions are taught in English (Al-Shehri, 2009).
English is the main language used as a means of communication in the world. It is the language used in world trade, information technology, major international laws, treaties and agreements, as well as in various other areas relevant to most countries (Anon., 2008). Hence, most people view the learning of English as a bridge towards gaining of advantages related to commerce, industry, and economic progress (Shabbir and Bughio, n.d. p. 76). In addition, the government of Saudi Arabia values the importance of English, and it has therefore developed strategies to encourage English usage. It has also ensured that teaching of the language is integrated into the education curriculum of various learning institutions (Jenkins, n.d). The following are the main strategies which can be used to enhance the English-speaking skill:
- Using the media
- Making social conversations in English
Presentation is among the most effective methods of learning English in learning institutions. This method involves the creation of presentations on different issues, which are done in English language in order to help the student to be able to communicate in the language effectively (Beare, n.d). The presentations are mainly done in a classroom in the presence of all the students. During presentation, the other students and the trainers are free to ask the student making the presentation as many questions as time would allow. One advantage is that the presentations help the shy students to develop confidence and be able to communicate in the presence of the whole class. However, the shy students are not normally allowed to stand in front of the classroom if they can effectively communicate while seated at their desks (Bagwell, 2010).
The presentations also help the students to overcome the fear of English which most of the students have (Khan, 2011, p. 246). By making presentations in the presence of the classmates, the students are able to overcome anxiety associated with the speaking a foreign language. However, people who are mostly affected by the anxiety are female students of the university (Al-Sibai, 2005, p. 5).
The media plays a very important role in the education of its listeners or viewers; it informs the listeners of the various issues affecting them. In conveying the information, the media uses certain language that its audience can clearly understand. In addition, due to the fact that the media reaches a large audience, it uses grammatically correct language and in effect, helps in the development of the specific language. The media can also develop certain programs that would help in teaching its audience a certain language, an aspect that is viewed to be of importance to the society.
Most of the media in Saudi Arabia use Arabic to convey information to the citizens of Saudi Arabia and the region in general. However, there are also many other types of media that use English to communicate. The media helps not only the students but the general public, improve their English speaking skills, as they able to learn how to pronounce certain words clearly and correctly, as well as to express themselves in English. The media also helps the student to overcome some of the errors which most of the students of the university make (Noor, n.d. p. 1442). The government has ensured that people are to learn English by launching a channel in the state media, which broadcasts in English. The TV station is known as Saudi T.V. Channel II, which is the official channel of Saudi Arabia (Shoult, 2006, p. 279).
Making social conversation in English
The ultimate aim of teaching a language is to enable the students to carry out conversations in the specific language fluently. Conversations help in developing the skills required to speak in the certain language. This enables the person to perfect his methods of expression using the language. In addition, speaking using a certain language makes the person to develop more interest in the language.
The major purpose of the study was to determine the English speaking learning strategies employed by the Saudi students and determine the measures that need to be taken to improve the students’ learning of the language. The research questions were therefore formulated in order to determine the learning strategies employed.
- Question 1: What English speaking learning strategy do the English trainers use or encourage the most among the students of King Abdulaziz University?
- Question 2: Does gender determine the use of the language leaning strategy among the students of King Abdulaziz University?
In order to undertake the study, use of questionnaire was used to determine the English learning skill strategies employed by the King Abdulaziz University students. In order to obtain samples which were representatives of the entire students of King Abdulaziz University, the participants of the study (N = 200), were chosen from all the academic levels and constituent colleges of the university.
Relevance of the study
The study would help the teachers and the university administration in determining the efficient teaching methods that would be considerate of the strategies, which are employed by the students to help increase the learning of English. The study would help in identification of the weaknesses in certain methods that are employed by the English teachers of King Abdulaziz university students. The study would also help the government in increasing the determining steps that it would take to improve the learning of English considering that the findings would differ so much with the findings that would have been carried in other Saudi universities.
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