Perceptions and Perspectives on Saudi Students’ Productive skills and Communicative Competence in English as a Foreign Language

A Critical Study


Scientific Study, 2016
42 Pages

Free online reading

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Factors Affecting Students’ Motivation for Communicative Competence in English: A Case in Saudi Arabia
Abstract
1. Introduction
2. Concept of Communicative Competence
3. Motivation
4. Objectives of the Study
5. Previous Research and Studies
6. Current Status of EFL in Saudi Arabia
7. Significance of the proposed study
8. Research Methodology
8.1 Research Questions
8.2 Assumptions
8.3 Participants
9. Data Collection
10. Results and Discussion
11. Conclusion
12. Recommendations
Acknowledgment
References
Appendix ‘A’ Questionnaire for Students
Appendix ‘B’ Questionnaire for EFL Teachers

Effects of Saudi Students’ Productive Skills on EFL Teaching and Learning
Abstract
1. Introduction
2. Features of Productive Skills
3. Spoken English vs. Written English
4. Significance of the Study
5. Objectives
6. Methodology
7. Data Analysis and Discussion
7.1 Demographic Data
7.2 Age
7.3 Education
7.4 Teaching Experience
7.5 Parent (Native) Language
7.6 Effective Ways to Handle Spoken Language in English Language Learning and Teaching
7.7. Effective ways to handle Written Language in English language Learning and Teaching

8. Conclusion

References

Appendix Questionnaire

Factors Affecting Students’ Motivation for Communicative Competence in English: A Case in Saudi Arabia

Abstract

The study was undertaken to find out and analyze how motivation influences students’ communicative competence in English as a foreign language. The researcher prepared a questionnaire blended with selected items derived from Gardner’s (1985, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007) Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB), Dornyei (2001b), Cheng and Dornyei (2007) and Guilloteaux and Dornyei (2008) motivational strategies framework for foreign language classrooms. The study was conducted on two groups that included 35 students from the College of Engineering and the College of Computer Sciences in one group and 50 students from College of Business Administration in the second group and the responses from EFL teachers teaching at Jazan University. The results obtained through the responses on structured questionnaire were found almost similar for both groups and both are significantly affected by motivation. The results indicated that teaching strategies supporting motivation, curriculum and course material directly affect students’ motivation and communicative competence. It also recommended few measures to counter the problems to enhance students’ communication competence (L2).

Keywords: globalization, communicative competence, motivation, colossus.

1. Introduction

The pace of global changes has made it indispensable for everyone to have mastery of spoken English and it has now become a burning issue and challenge for both the teachers and learners in Saudi Arabia. Further, English, today is needed almost everywhere for health services, travel, business, and managing technology (Elyas & Picard, 2010). It has always been seen that the students expertise their first language (L1) pretty easily, but not the same for second (L2), additional or foreign languages. There have been many research works on this but still speaking English remains a demanding task for many Saudis (Abu-Ghararah, 1990, 1998). The students at Jazan university are not only the exceptions where this problem does exist because the research in the past shows that “This is not a new problem; for more than three decades as it has been noted that Saudi students spend at least ten years learning English; yet, they generally achieve unsatisfactory levels of communicative competence in the language (Al-Twaijri, 1983)”. The Government of KSA is striving hard to facilitate its budding to enhance their English proficiency by investing in recruiting good teachers from abroad, on books and course material, scholarships to the aspiring students. The aim is to develop proficiency that will enable Saudi students to undertake courses in English-medium environments successfully (Ministry of Higher Education, 2010) and become successful global entrepreneurs and fetch good jobs thereby contribute to Saudi society at large.

The researcher has referred ‘communicative competence’ as the underlying system of knowledge and skills required for communication (Canale & Swain, 1980; Alptekin, 2002). This concept is well explained under the heading as communicative competence because it is central to this investigation. This study here probed motivation as an explanation for the unsatisfactory communicative outcomes of EFL education for most of Saudi students. The term ‘motivation’ here refers to the individual's attitudes, desires, and effort to learn the language (Gardner, 1985, 2007). In the realistic and pragmatic observation and experience here at this university, I interpret and understood motivation in the Saudi situation as the explicit neglect of speaking skills. There are many constraints like more emphasis on grammar over speaking skills, traditional teaching methodology, non-testing of speaking skills, lack of feedback in classroom situations as rightly said in Saudi classes, students’ speaking skills are rarely tested, oral group work is rarely undertaken, feedback is rarely given and negotiation of meanings does not occur (Al- Hajailan, 2003). These factors really affect students’ communicative achievement and are investigated in this study in terms of their implications for language learners’ motivation.

Often the mastery over the first language (L1) is always easy to a high level of proficiency but same is not the case for second or foreign languages in formal classroom settings. A plethora of researches has been devoted to elucidate this phenomenon and motivation is a critical factor in this regard. The researchers have advocated that motivation and teaching strategies supporting motivation affect learners’ language achievement significantly (Liu, Lin, Jian & Liou, 2012; Richards & Schmidt, 1983). Motivation itself is affected by several factors - students’ integrativeness (Gardner, Smythe, Clement & Gliksman, 1976, p.199), students’ attitudes toward their teacher and course, motivational intensity (Gardner, 1985, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007) and other factors including teachers’ communicative style and language class activities (Dörnyei, 2001). The literature review reveals the importance of motivation in learning a second language (L2) and how it affects students’ achievement.

The study investigates Saudi students’ communicative competence and the factors affecting their competence such as motivation and teaching strategies supporting motivation. The study involved a group of the College of Engineering and the College of Computer Sciences and a group of the College of Business Administration students undertaking part of their English studies in Jazan University.

The responses of the respondents have been analysed and as a result, a few updates and changes are recommended in teaching methods, teaching strategies, class courses, and learning strategies for formal classroom settings. The research further suggests various techniques that can be designed and implemented to motivate the students to develop their communicative competence.

2. Concept of Communicative Competence

The term ‘communicative competence’ is the underlying system of knowledge and skills required for communication (Canale & Swain, 1980; Alptekin, 2002). Linguists have explained this term in their own ways. Savignon (1976) describes communicative competence as the knowledge a native speaker has which allows him or her to successfully interact with other speakers. She was also one of the early proponents of communicative language teaching (CLT) and thereafter, CLT has become a buzzword in the field of applied linguistics but no unanimity on one definition. Savignon (1991) states that negotiation of meaning and interpretation are the hallmarks of communication, while Celce-Murcia (1991) focused much of her research on the inclusion of grammar in communicative language teaching, and Chun (1988) called for more research into intonation and interaction. As linguists and applied linguists reflected on CLT differently but a few had blended the different opinions of components in theoretical frameworks. This has led to the evolution of several theoretical frameworks of communicative competence.

Canale and Swain (1980) developed one of the first theoretical frameworks of communicative competence after reasoning that it was possible to abstract components of language from performance and to study each independently and later expanded this in 1983 by breaking sociolinguistic competence into two separate components: sociolinguistic competence (appropriateness of register, vocabulary and politeness norms) and discourse competence (cohesion and coherence). The framework has paved way for the other communicative competence theoretical frameworks. Bachman (1990) proposed a theoretical framework for what he called “communicative language ability” and revised later with Plamer. (Bachman and Palmer: 1996).

In 1995, Celce-Murcia, Dornyei, and Thurell also developed a detailed outline of communicative competence. Their framework, which was meant to inform syllabus design in communicative language teaching, included five competencies:

- Discourse competence: cohesion, coherence, deixis, generic structure, and conversational structure
- Linguistic competence: syntax, morphology, lexical knowledge, and phonological and orthographic systems
- Actional competence: knowledge of language functions (e.g. expressing and finding out feelings, suasion, asking for and giving information, complaining, greeting and leaving, etc.) and knowledge of speech act sets
- Sociocultural competence: appropriateness in social context, cultural awareness, style, and non-verbal communication
- Strategic competence: linguistic strategies such as avoidance or reduction strategies, achievement or compensatory strategies, stalling strategies, self-monitoring strategies, and interactional strategies (Celce-Murcia, et al., 1995).

3. Motivation

It is a universal truth that Students’ motivation is a vital part in learning any language. Motivation is considered one of the most important factors in second language acquisition (SLA) (Sun, 2010) because it is thought to determine the level of active personal involvement in L2 learning (Warden & Lin, 2000). The unmotivated students don’t take interest and always lack in L2 skills. But motivation factor determines how ready and willing learners are to get more information and to increase their ability to understand, speak, and write the L2 (Engin, 2009). Troudi (2007), in his study, found that Saudi students don’t need English as they study their subjects in Arabic.

The motivation consists of the individual's attitudes, desires, and effort to learn the language (Gardner, 1985, 2007). Whatever I observed and experienced during my teaching at Jazan University confirms me a lack of motivation, emphasis and neglect of speaking skills. This leads to examine the educational problems- English curriculum, teaching practices (outdated), and examination module affecting students’ communicative competence level. The students’ speaking skills at Saudi Arabia are rarely tested, oral group work is rarely undertaken, feedback is rarely given and negotiation of meanings does not occur (Al-Hajailan, 2003). The researcher tries to explore and underscore these problems and implications for language learners’ motivation at Jazan University and in general.

4. Objectives of the Study

The primary concern of the researcher of the present study is to identify the problematic areas affecting motivation in attaining communicative competence by Saudi learners of English as a foreign language. The researcher tried to find out the following objectives through a structured questionnaire:

- To examine participants’ self-reported communicative competence.
- To identify factors that influence students’ English communicative competence
- To investigate the effect of motivation, and teaching strategies supporting motivation on communicative competence of Saudi students.

The researcher has also provided some suggestions regarding improving motivation. The results and suggestions will provide insights and assist EFL teachers, learners and policy makers of English as a foreign Language to adopt appropriate ways to instill and enhance motivation that would result in attaining higher level of communicative competence by the Saudi students.

5. Previous Research and Studies

The concept of ‘competence’ became popular when Chomsky (1965) emphasized on the abstract abilities of speakers that enable them to produce grammatically correct sentences in a language also termed as ‘linguistic competence’ or grammatical knowledge. But competence involves far more than knowledge of and ability for grammaticality (Ma, 2009). This also was contradicted Hymes (1972) by describing that rules of grammar would be useless without rules of use. It was again supported by Ma (2009) saying; “If a speaker were to produce grammatical sentences without regard to the situations in which they were being used, he would certainly be regarded as unstable”. Competence should not only confine itself to grammatical knowledge but also inherit the concepts of appropriateness, acceptability, culture, situations and non-verbal communication etc. The study of competence should also involve consideration of such variables as attitude, motivation, and a number of socio-cultural factors (Ma, 2009).

Hymes (1972) was the first to use ‘communicative competence’ as a reaction against audio-lingual and pedagogic tradition that preferred memorization of grammatical rules and word-for-word translation of sentences. This was the so-called grammar-translation approach to foreign language education (Kramsch, 2006). ‘Audio-lingual’ denotes the listening and the speaking aspect. This concept that came up in the mid-40s, was primarily a response to the need for more effective aural and oral skills, rather than the reading and writing skills that had for many years been in the foreground of language learning (Abu-Mulhim, 2009). These pedagogies were perfectly suited to the needs of an administrative mentality for which knowledge was bounded in texts or in fixed dialogues and was to be exercised through imitation and repetition (Kramsch, 2006). But grammatical competence enables speakers to use and understand English language structures accurately, thereby contributing to their fluency (Ma, 2009).

Sociolinguistic competence is an aspect of communicative competence which includes knowing what is expected socially and culturally by users of the target language (Ma, 2009; Alptekin, 2002; Canale, 1983). Knowledge of language alone does not adequately prepare learners for effective and appropriate use of the target language. Discourse competence that comprises cohesion and coherence is another aspect of communicative competence which concerned with inter-sentential relationships (Alptekin, 2002). Lastly, Strategic competence refers to the ability to know how to keep a conversation going, how to terminate the conversation, and how to clear up communication breakdown as well as comprehension problems (Ma, 2009).

Measuring communicative competence, adopted from Canale and Swain (1980)

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The research feels that student’s ability to learn a foreign language doesn’t serve his purpose without motivation. The scholars have explored many ways of assessing motivational variables in various contexts and languages to investigate the role of motivation in learning an L2 (e.g., Clement, Gardner & Smythe, 1980; Clement & Kruidenier, 1983, 1985; Dornyei, 1994; Ely, 1986; Gardner, 1985, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007; Gardner & MacIntyre, 1991; Julkunen, 2001; Ramage, 1990).

The study’s theoretical model for motivation by Gardner (1985, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007)

Motivation-related factors affecting learners’ communicative competence

Figure: Gardner’s socio-educational model (1985, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007)

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A plethora of studies have been carried out on this but without any serious endeavor to generate detailed content specifications for CLT that relate directly to enhance communicative competence level and it is concluded that motivation itself (but a few on Saudi students’ English communicative competence) is affected by several factors - students’ integrativeness - “a high level of drive on the part of the individual to acquire the language of a valued second-language community in order to facilitate communication with that group” (Gardner, Smythe, Clement & Gliksman, 1976, p.199), students’ attitudes toward their teacher and course, ‘motivational intensity’ – students’ desire, effort, and positive affect toward learning the language (Gardner, 1985, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007) and other factors including teachers’ communicative style and language class activities (Dornyei, 2001). ‘Communicative competence’ is a theoretical construct, a primary learning goal, and a pedagogical approach, even a measure for assessment, all in one (Byrnes, 2006). In the United States, foreign language education professionals have used the terms ‘communicative competence’ and ‘proficiency’ as synonyms for oral communication (Larson, 2006). Communicative competence is understood as the underlying system of knowledge and skills required for communication (Canale & Swain, 1980; Alptekin, 2002).

6. Current Status of EFL in Saudi Arabia

There have been many research works on this but still speaking English remains a demanding task for many Saudis (Abu-Ghararah, 1990, 1998). The students at Jazan university are not only the exceptions where this problem does exist but the research in the past shows that “This is not a new problem; for more than three decades it has been noted that Saudi students spend at least ten years learning English; yet, they generally achieve unsatisfactory levels of communicative competence in the language (Al-Twaijri, 1983)”. The Government of KSA is striving hard to facilitate its budding to enhance their English proficiency by investing in recruiting good teachers from abroad, on books and course material, scholarships to the aspiring students. The aim is to develop proficiency that will enable Saudi students to undertake courses in English-medium environments successfully (Ministry of Higher Education, 2010) and become successful global entrepreneurs and fetch good jobs thereby contribute to Saudi society at large.

7. Significance of the proposed study

The author has made an attempt to address Saudi students’ actual and self-reported communicative competence and how these are affected by motivation in Saudi Arabia. English language teaching has passed through different stages; overall emphasize grammar over other skills including speaking (Abu Ras, 2002). But now it has opened up new avenues to different cultures and languages thereby making necessary to master spoken English for fruitful, constructive and real-life interactions. Therefore, communicative competence is a goal of English language education in Saudi Arabia and this can be attained only through effective use of effective CLT approach. The researcher tries to explore and underscore these problems and implications for language learners’ motivation at Jazan University and in general.

7.1 Limitations of the Study

The study is only a preliminary step in investigating pragmatic and functional implications for students’ motivation affecting the communicative competence. The work undertakes and tackles the modern challenges, applied linguistics theories (referred for study) and researches briefly that were barely considered in relation to Saudi students’ English communicative competence. The absence of much previous studies of such work and respondents from Jazan University are the major limitation of this study; hence it is heavily dependent on empirical and observational examination.

8. Research Methodology

The researcher has done intense study to prepare a solid foundation through reading relevant books, journals, academic articles, internet etc. The study consists of questions based on research topic and a few assumptions.

8.1 Research Questions

The main focus of this research to analyze to what extent motivation can affect EFL learners in teaching-learning process. The researcher collected responses through well prepared bilingual self-structured questionnaire- both in English and Arabic (attached as Appendix A) from the respondents who are experienced EFL students (of level 2) studying at College of Engineering and College of Computer Sciences in one group and the students of college of Business administration at Jazan University, Jazan, KSA and discussed elaborately their responses to find out the root cause of learners’ problems and suggests some measures for the poor communicative outcomes of English language education to enhance and expertise their communication competence (L2).

8.2 Assumptions

- There is a difference between the self-reported communicative competences of Saudi students in different programs.
- Strong bonding between motivation and communicative competence.
- Significant relationship between teaching strategies supporting motivation and communicative competence.
- Positive relationship between teaching strategies supporting motivation and motivation.

8.3 Participants

The researcher identified 50 students each from technical and business administration courses but only 50 students studying at College of Business Administration and 35 students from College of Engineering and College of Computer Sciences of Jazan University, Jazan, KSA participated in filling-up the questionnaire. The qualitative responses of EFL teachers teaching at Jazan University were also taken as their opinions on questions (attached as Appx. B) covering various aspects of teaching learning process.

9. Data Collection

Data were analyzed using percentile method (out of 100) and reported in percentages. Questionnaires were administered to EFL learners. The questionnaire consisted of questions based on students’ perspective, teacher motivation in classroom, curriculum and teaching-learning activities covering various aspects like individual characteristics of students’ and teachers’ motivation and their perception of teachers’ attitude, perception, support and care. Data were obtained from the students through questionnaire and through brief feedback from the EFL teachers in a workshop in one session when all the teachers were present in the workshop. Students were assured that the purpose of the study was to improve their communicative competence and language teaching and learning in the college. They were encouraged to answer all questions as honestly and accurately as possible. They were also told that all answers would be anonymous and totally confidential. On average, the students’ took 20 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Teachers were instructed orally to share their experiences on this research subject assessing their motivation for teaching and their perceived level of attitude, support and actions related to EFL students of all the three colleges. On average, the students’ took 20 minutes to complete the questionnaires.

10. Results and Discussion

Knowing the importance of motivation to EFL learning, this study was conducted to explore students’ communicative competence level and attitude towards learning English through varied questions related to students’ communicative competence, and to investigate the effect of teacher’s perceptions and teaching on their students’ motivation. Based on the concept of motivation and students’ communicative competence in English in general as mentioned earlier, the results indicated that students generally don’t have positive perception towards learning English language and the EFL teachers. This sub section presents the results and the findings of the study related to its questions.

Why do you need to speak in English?

Results on students’ reveal that technical (25.7%) and business (34%) students opted to study English to get employment, technical (65.7%) and business (56%) to gain speaking competence and self-confidence. Further, the remaining technical (8.6%) and business (10%) opted for just to talk and use in communication with non-Arabic people. The results demonstrate higher integrative motivation among the students over instrumental motivation.

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This positive response by both groups towards speaking in English showed that students are aware that speaking English language is crucial for academic and career life, they feel that high level of proficiency in English is the key for success in life. Most of the subjects strongly agreed with the statement that they need to enhance their English communicative competence and valuing its role in interaction and career future success. Students are also eyeing on Saudi government offering scholarships to English-speaking countries (Ministry of Higher Education, 2010).

How many lectures are assigned for English per week?

The students were divided on this question. Either they did not understand or didn’t know exactly the lecture time because most of the teachers are having minimum two lecture to the maximum four lectures continuously. This question was asked to examine the relationship between motivation and the hours of instruction received and to determine the impact of the learning experience on motivation (Tragant’s:2006). The majority of the students were not keen to learn English but who aiming at higher education, gain speaking skills and bright career were taking interest.

Do you have any lecture on speaking skills?

The results of this question reveal that technical (62.85%) and business (64%) students responded that they have sometimes lecture on speaking skills, technical (28.5%) and business (26%) opined that they never have any lecture on speaking skills. Only technical (8.6%) and business (10%) opted to have always a lecture on speaking skills.

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It shows clearly that the teacher either don't have topics or exercises on speaking skills in the syllabus or ignore intentionally.

Do you have exam on speaking skills?

Results on students’ reveal that technical (48.6%) and business (60%) students responded that they have never been tested on speaking skills and only technical (42.6%) and business (32%) opined that they have sometimes been tested on speaking skills. Only technical (8.8%) and business (8%) agreed that they are tested on speaking skills.

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It shows clearly that testing and evaluation system doesn’t include this aspect of communication skills. This is required to examine the linguistic competence and sociolinguistic competence which helps learners know what comments are appropriate and also how to respond nonverbally according to the purpose of the talk (Ma, 2009). The exam should be conducted to know four determinations (interest, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction) that affect learners’ evaluation of language tasks and the degree of effort they will apply in their learning (Julkunen, 2001).

Do your teachers motivate you to speak in the classroom?

Results on students’ reveal that technical (77%) and business (70%) students responded that the teachers motivate them to speak in English in the class and technical (20%) and business (24%) opined that they have sometimes been motivated in the class and only technical (3%) and business (6%) agreed that the teachers never motivate them in the class.

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The data show encouraging and positive results on teachers’ motivating the students to communicate in English which is really a good sign to enhance the competence level of the students.

Do the current books on English syllabus meet your requirements?

The majority of technical (69%) and business (60%) students responded that the existing syllabus doesn’t suit their requirements and only technical (31%) and business (40%) agreed that they are satisfied with the syllabus.

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The curriculum committee at English Language Centre must look into this aspect and frame the syllabus (ESP) that caters the students’ requirement of all the programs respectively.

Are the textbooks not relevant to your (students') needs and interests?

A large number of technical (88%) and business (93%) students were very harsh on this question and only technical (12%) and business (7%) students agreed that the textbooks caters to their needs and interests and are of their standard.

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The textbooks and the course material must be designed to suit the requirements of the students as language teaching materials have an important role and effect in language learning because motivation to learn can be created from these materials (Gardner, 2007; Sun, 2010). I would further emphasize to quote that language class materials that help improve learners’ communicative competence are those which are related to learners’ lives or to current events; offer choices about what, where, how, or with whom work is done; include problems for learners to solve that are realistic and challenging; and involve creating a product or provide some concrete form of accomplishment (Lepper, 1998; Sun, 2010).

Are you provided opportunities to communicate in the target language (English)?

Results on students’ reveal that technical (80%) and business (70%) students responded that they were not given any opportunity to speak in English in the class and only technical (20%) and business (30%) agreed that they are tested on speaking skills.

This throws ball on the teachers’ court to plan and organize communicative activities to arouse and instill interest in the students to participate and converse in English in the class. The teacher must motivate and strike a fire in students to get used to the pragmatic language meaning in context (sociolinguistic competence); knowledge and use of language above the sentence level in spoken and written discourse (discourse competence); and active language use in learning activities (strategic competence) (Leung, 2005).

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We have experienced that learners learn the L2 more effectively when they have opportunities to learn meaningful language that can be applied in a context to accomplish goals important to them (Chamot & O’Malley, 1996). The students need regular opportunities to apply what is being learned for better communication for their regular use in real life situations. On providing consistent opportunities to speak in classroom Swain and Miccoli (1994) believe that collaborative learning during group work engages learners in longer conversations about topics of their interest.

Do the curriculum and the course material lengthy?

The responses of 80% students showed that the curriculum and the course material is too lengthy for them to read and understand. Only 20% subjects responded affirmative on the current syllabus. The ‘attitudes toward the learning situation’ refers to three variables- attitudes toward the course (materials), attitudes toward the course (classroom atmosphere), and attitudes toward the teacher. These altogether affect students’ motivation and could be directed toward the teacher, curriculum and the course material. It is illustrated: classroom-learning motivation is motivation in the classroom situation, or in any specific situation that is influenced by a number of associated factors such as the teacher, the class atmosphere, the course content, and materials (Gardner, 2007). The language class activities that help develop learners’ speaking skills tend to be neglected in the Middle East due to the heavily loaded syllabi and class sizes often in excess of 20 learners (Ward, 2007). This explanation covers all the question related teacher, student motivation, curriculum, course material etc.

Do the curriculum and the course material interesting?

Results on students’ reveal that technical (78.6%) and business (69%) students responded that the curriculum and the course material is not interesting but technical (21.4%) and business (31%) agreed that they found the existing curriculum and course material an interesting one.

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We should remember that students’ attitudes toward course materials used in a language course influence their motivation to learn the language (Gardner, 2007). There are four determinations that affect learners’ evaluation of language tasks and the degree of effort they will apply in their learning. These are: interest, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction (Julkunen, 2001). But once again, it poses a critical challenge to the curriculum committee to design it to be at par with the students’ level.

Are communicative activities in the English curriculum boring for the students?

Results on students’ reveal that technical (82.8%) and business (78%) students felt that the communicative activities given in the curriculum are boring but on the other side, technical (17.2%) and business (22%) found the activities interesting. The syllabus should incorporate communicative activities on various topics taught and appropriate teaching methodologies that may arouse interest of the students in the class because- it has been observed that L2 communicative competence is influenced by learner motivation and the

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teaching strategies supporting motivation (Liu, Lin, Jian & Liou, 2012; Richards & Schmidt, 1983).

Do you comprehend the course contents and solutions effectively?

Technical (74.3%) and business (62%) students responded that they don’t comprehend the course contents and the solutions effectively but technical (25.7%) and business (38%) subjects could comprehend it well. This has been well supported by Brecht and Robinson (1993) who state that students may view classroom communication as artificial for a number of reasons. Firstly, the topic of a conversation class may be chosen and directed by the teacher. Secondly, some teachers are not truly interested in what their students are saying and the students notice this. This is important because when learners feel that their listener is truly listening to what they have to say, an element of reality is added to their conversation.

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Most of EFL teachers at this University focused on their results rather than on comprehensibility of the contents and the language as it is quoted that English teachers in the Arabian Gulf rely mostly on repetition and memorization to promote learners’ literacy (Syed, 2003). It is further proven and strengthened by the fact that ‘Students are usually asked to memorize a few pre-written essays within the textbook for the final exam (Elyas, 2008)’.

10.1 Teachers’ Perception

Most of the teachers were of the opinion that the level of the students is low and the curriculum also doesn’t match with their level of knowledge. The fundamentals of English language are not strong and it makes it difficult for them to teach and comprehend topics in the classroom. They often try to motivate their students but the students are not keen to learn English language and they just try to pass as mandatory requirement to complete the degree. The teachers accepted that they usually don’t carry any teaching aids with them and the researcher observed that the teachers are also demotivated. When asked about the teaching pedagogy, lesson plan, communicative activities, audio-video teaching aids, CLT, students motivation etc. they could hardly reply to the context but tried to respond beyond the scope of my study. Though, the qualitative analyses conducted suggests some comparative and contrastive insights into the participants’ perceptions of various factors in EFL classroom settings.

The previous studies also proved that teachers in Saudi classes talk most of the time leaving learners with little time to practise what they have learned (Syed, 2001). This does not leave any space for feedback mechanism which is a vital factor in language acquisition. The teachers often follow a type of interaction referred to as IRF (Initiation, Response, Feedback) or IRE (Initiation, Response, Evaluation) (Gibbons, 2002, p.16). The teacher only talks limiting the development of learners’ productive language skills and means that teachers in fact say far more than the learners (Syed, 2001; Gibbons, 2002). When learners are listening most of the time they will only gain a general understanding of the language (Swain & Lapkin, 1986). Swain and Lapkin (1986) affirmed to put the learners in conversational situations to learn the language specifics that will develop their communicative competence.

11. Conclusion

The researcher has examined the actual and self-reported communicative competence of both the groups that found to be very low. The results of the study revealed a strong relation between attitudes toward the English teacher and students’ motivation. EFL teachers through implementing sound motivational strategies may enhance students’ motivation whereas unsupportive behaviours from teachers tends to affect students’ motivation. The results shows negative attitudes toward EFL teachers. Most of the teacher adopt teaching materials from the textbook rather than based on their lives and interest. The results also showed that most of the exercises require mechanical, rather than communicative drills (Al-Twairish, 2009). The abovementioned study confirmed its support for hypotheses about differences between self-reported communicative competence, differences between self-reported motivation and differences between teaching strategies supporting motivation of both the groups of Saudi students at Jazan University. It also support that motivation and teaching strategies supporting motivation may contribute to the students’ communicative competence. The unmotivated students don’t get involved in communicative process and unable to develop their communicative competence. The results also revealed that the traditional concept of motivation in EFL acquisition getting changed into the new concept where English is seen simply as a basic educational skill not tied to a particular culture or community but a global language.

The study recommends the incorporation of motivational strategies by EFL teachers to develop and improve learners’ communicative competence. The study is a seminal attempt made by the researcher on the current thinking and practice in EFL communicative competence in Saudi Arabia and forms a basis and opens avenues for future research in the related fields.

12. Recommendations

The researcher has carried out his study thoroughly analyzing all critical issues related to its topic to suggest its far-reaching practical pedagogical implications to confirm and prove that learners’ language achievement is related to motivation and motivational strategies. He further recommends that:

- The prime and major challenge is to make the students realize the significance of English language in the global world and inculcate and motivate them to enhance their competence level to gain not only first academically but later for their future career also.
- It is recommended that a ‘Bridge Course’ may be designed and incorporated for the newly admitted students at the beginning of the academic year that may lay a sound foundation of Basics of English language for the students. The course content may include various topics on essentials to communication and taught for 8 hours.
- Most of the students reported about the lengthy syllabus and difficult English textbooks that demotivate them to carry out their English language learning effectively. The authorities should have an open deliberation before selecting English textbooks and try to rationalize English syllabus according to students’ level and the teaching hours. They must consider learners’ interest and proficiency in the target language as the main criteria in this regard.
- The curriculum committee must take into account the results of various researches and studies carried out on Saudi students on these issues, their recommendation before and while designing and finalizing the contents/topics for the students of various disciplines. The contents and the activities given on each topic should relate to students’ real life affairs to make them alive, motivated and participate in the classroom activities.
- The teacher should focus on the students and to help & motivate them should be his prime concern. The department should impart them training on using motivational techniques and strategies in classroom settings and how to motivate Saudi students by catering to their needs, desire, and interest to comprehend and learn lessons.
- The teachers should prepare better contents, exploit effective teaching methods, communicative style, speak slowly to ensure understanding, avoid using Arabic language, avoid losing their temper during classes, ensure that interactive activities are planned and executed effectively using modern teaching facilities extensively to maximize the involvement of the learners in classroom proceedings, to generate students’ interest and motivation in for better learning.
- The teacher-student relations is a vital factor and creating a positive and healthy classroom ambience would enhance students’ positive attitudes and motivation. The teacher must make his students’ aware of today’s need of hour to learn English and by enriching the content of the lesson that help students create interest and participate in the classroom activities and feel to have learned and gained that boost their confident.
- All the activities must be based on real-life situations with structured questions to develop Students’ communicative competence. The teacher should ask and discuss the students’ related problems that will involve and ensure their participation.
- A friendly attitude and behavior in the class will overcome all the complexities. The teachers should reflect a sense of brotherhood, feeling of being concerned (FBC) to create interest to learn English and ultimately reducing learners’ anxiety. Also, they should explain reasons for learning the language so that students will be more motivated to develop their language skills.
- The teachers should plan and conduct group activities for their classes to motivate and involve the learners. However, Doughty and Pica (1986) believe that group activities do not automatically result in the modification of interaction among learners. Rather the classroom teacher must carefully plan group interaction so that it includes a requirement for exchange of information. The teacher’s is pivotal for successful L2 acquisition in the classroom.
- The teachers should provide correct interactional feedback to his students on all communicative activities. The students should be checked for the feedback points and guide accordingly.
- The teachers should change their perception on students’ level of English knowledge and must be aware of the distinction between his perception and practice, in order to see that they are not tending towards a broader concept in their classes; as a consequence, they would be better prepared to implement the notion of communicative competence more fully in their EFL classes (Nazari, 2007). The teacher should have explicit knowledge of communicative competence and make and review his lesson plan accordingly as per the existing syllabus, lectures, etc.
- The real communication involves linguistic and socio-cultural practices of language. The teacher should implement and practice the concept of communicative competence in the EFL classes.

Acknowledgment

This study was carried out by Dr Vipin K Sharma and supported by the Research Unit at English Language Centre, Jazan University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vide office order RU/ELC/ 03/2015.

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Appendix ‘A’

Questionnaire for Students

The information collected through this questionnaire will not be revealed to anyone at any stage and will be used only for this research project. This participation is totally open.

Please tick the ones you consider the most appropriate option. Don’t write your name on the questionnaire.

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Thanks a lot for your cooperation

Appendix ‘B’

Questionnaire for EFL Teachers

This questionnaire is the part of a survey study designed to explain the influencing factors affecting students’ communicative competence observes and experienced by the members of faculty in and outside EFL classroom teaching at various colleges in English Language Center, Jazan University. It pursues real belief of the participating EFL teachers on the research topic. The information collected through this questionnaire will not be revealed to anyone at any stage and will be used only for this research project. This participation is totally open. The filling up this form indicates your inclination to be a part of this research. Writing your name is optional.

You are requested to tick the best ones you think appropriate.

Demographic Information

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Perspectives on EFL teaching and students’ Communicative Competence

1. What does ‘communicative competence’ mean to you? ________________
2. What kinds of activities do you ask your students to do in the classroom? Why?
3. What is CLT approach?
4. What principles of the CLT approach do you apply in your teaching?
5. What are the principles of different methods of teaching English?
6. How many lectures/periods do you have in a week?
7. What strategies do you adopt in class for the students to participate in effective communicative activities?
8. What is medium of instruction and communication in the lecture?
9. What kinds of activities do your ask students to do in the classroom?

Thanks a lot for your cooperation

Effects of Saudi Students’ Productive Skills on EFL Teaching and Learning

Abstract

The article aims to explain the effects of Saudi students’ productive skills on their teaching and learning process. The study is both theoretical and practical in nature covering both quantitative and qualitative aspects in totality. The researcher had obtained the response of the EFL teachers through well-structured questionnaire covering various aspects involved in teaching-learning process. Further, the researcher analyzed the responses of the respondents and found out that the students are not familiarized with the fundamentals of English language. Therefore, the students resist and hesitate to learn and develop their speaking and the writing skills. The problems are further examined to derive at conclusions to suggest the most appropriate measures to be taken by the language teachers to overcome the problems of the students to enhance and expertise in their productive skills.

Keywords: communication, technology, foreign language, productive skills.

1. Introduction

Language plays a crucial role in the development of human society. It is the main means of communication between individuals, groups and countries. Nowadays, more and more people are learning English as a foreign or second language, and their key objective is to get expertise in English. The abrupt changes in the broad field of economy, business, science, technology and education have triggered the youth and coming generation to improve their communication skills. Kachru and Nelson opine that English has developed from the native language of a relatively small island nation to the most widely taught, read, and spoken language that the world has ever known (Kuo, 2006, p. 213). This has further ignited a spark in the teachers to innovate and adopt the effective methods of teaching English which is a matter of great concern today. Language acquisition involves four modules of teaching that includes Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. The teachers have to be dynamic and updated to teach these language skills to the students.

The teaching of English language was not given importance in the first half of the last century in the gulf countries but from the second half of twentieth century to till today, as Kachru and Nelson suggest that English has developed from the native language of a relatively small island nation to the most widely taught, read, and spoken language that the world has ever known (Kuo, 2006, p. 213). The opening up of trade boundaries and the movement of people from other countries into Saudi Arabia created a need to acquire the knowledge of English as a foreign language (EFL). The Govt. of Higher Education has introduced English in the school level curriculum. But learning EFL has become a need of the hour and improving English proficiency gains a significant position in this language acquisition. There are four language skills ie. Listening, reading, writing and speaking, involved in the language learning process. The reading and listening skills are called Receptive skills and speaking and writing skills are called Productive skills.

It is a universal phenomenon that a child follows certain path to achieve these skills. He first listens to his mother tongue or first language, then speak, read and later on writing is the last skill of language acquisition process. The receptive skills are easy to attain than the productive skills as they need a vase practice. However, in the case of EFL learning, this sequence does not always work the same way.

The researcher has interviewed Saudi students and found that a child usually start to learn a foreign language in the sixth standard now. Then he learns listening, reading EFL comfortably but has to struggle to learn speaking and writing. But through teacher’s systematic and pragmatic approach, the students develop all the four skills simultaneously. We see in the language lab that listening to the target language usually helps to develop speaking skills and similarly reading does the same to writing skills.

The researcher makes a seminal attempt to find out the problems related to productive skills in language acquisition process, then analyzing & evaluating to extract some similarities and differences between spoken language and written language and suggest implementing the best practices to attain effective English language learning and teaching in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

2. Features of Productive Skills

Human beings are blessed with many languages and language is a tool of communication of human society. The language has many functions in real-life situations as Yule while discussing the origins of language mentions two functions of language:

“…All this noise-making and gesturing, seems to be characteristic of only one of the major functions of language use, which we may describe as the interactional function. It has to do with how humans use language to interact with each other, socially or emotionally; how they indicate friendliness, co-operate or hostility, or annoyance, pain, or pleasure… But there is another major function of language, the transactional function, whereby humans use their linguistic abilities to communicate knowledge, skills and information.. ” (1996, p. 6).

Language differentiates us from animals and the language originated from the critical need of the people to communicate clearly and effectively. As a resultant of this NEED the spoken language came into existence and developed, and consequently the written language, which catered for the need of recording and preserving for future references. The use of the language facilitates the people interactions and exchange of knowledge of their respective fields. The receptive skills usually prepare the foundation for the productive skills to produce output in the form of completion of task. The learners are required to attain all the four skills to accomplice their objective of language acquisition as attaining half would not serve the purpose. Communication is a two way process that consists of receiving information and responding in the form of giving information. The receiving information covers listening and reading skills whereas speaking and writing skills are productive skills. A person is considered to be a complete gainer of Language when he speaks fluently and write effectively.

First language acquisition is known as a natural process as speaking is learned unconsciously in daily life but writing skills are learned consciously in schools. But in the foreign language learning situation, both speaking and writing are hard nut to crack. There are many features and differences between these two productive skills.

The first language at Saudi Arabia is Arabic and people do all transactions in Arabic only. They become so fluent from their childhood because of conducive environment they get at home and outside but same is not the case with foreign language. Teaching and learning of English came later as a foreign language and this language is hardly used in routine affairs except few words like computer, studio, biscuit, salad, doctor, tyre, radar, chocolate etc. and except on few occasions like business meetings, conferences, seminars etc. The English lecture at school level is only the time and place that English language learners get to learn and practice English. It is forced, artificial and formal way of teaching and the learners don’t feel free in this environment and hesitant to speak in English.

The students at this University do face grammatical problems while speaking English in class or peer group. A sound knowledge of grammar will help the students to understand the speech of others and respond correctly using right words, correct tense and correct sentences. Grammar helps the students by providing standard set of rules which not only help them to learn, understand and speak but enhance their confidence resulting speaking English fluently and effectively. Despite this, the mother tongue of various dialects influence the English pronunciation of learners as Brown rightly mentioned that:

“…There is, to begin with, no influential description of spoken English which has, say, the status of grammars of written English. Spoken English appears very variable, and is very different from one dialect area to another. Even between speakers who mostly speak ‘standard English’ there is different emphasis in their selection from forms in standard English. …” (Brown, 1983, p. 3).

There are many speech sounds in different cultures, traditions, dialects, age groups and society in a country resulting in no set rules for spoken English to the learners. The native language may have certain rules in writing and speaking but Saudi students speak the same as written in English texts. Speaking in English is not to speak the written words but to learn beyond written words. The emphasis in Saudi Arabia is still on western accent but spoken language has become dynamic in nature globally and it has set a great challenge for the scholars and teachers to introspect and innovate new method and techniques for teaching spoken English to the English foreign learners.

3. Spoken English vs. Written English

The concepts of spoken and written English are not new to any language, cultures and countries because they carry out various activities in their societal and business life. The use of these two terms depends upon the requirements and the prevalent situations. The first form is oral and doesn’t require much preparation and attention whereas written English needs careful selection of words, using in correct order and place as per grammar rules. We can observe in our routine affairs that people use different words when they write on a specific matter but use different words when they speak or interact on the same matter.

The speaking and writing skills are also called productive skills but written language doesn’t contain words and language what have been spoken and spoken language is not just reading out loudly the written words and language. Bygate has rightly pointed out the difference in this read-aloud case example:

“Of course if you have actually tried to “speak like a book” yourself, you may agree that it can be hard work. It is hard work reading aloud from a book. This may be because it is not something we are used to; or because the sentences can be awkward to read aloud - too long, too complex, or too technical. It can be tricky to get the correct intonation, and you may find you often have to re-read bits to make them sound right. Reading aloud tends to require considerable attention.” (Bygate, 1991, p. 10)

The researcher has interviewed many Saudi students from various regions studying at Jazan University and asked about English teaching in schools. They are of the same opinion that the teacher used to ask the students to read paragraphs loudly to get them more familiar with English words, pronunciation and to enhance speaking skills. But this, of course, satisfies the teachers but the students’ spoken skills remained far from attaining the desired standard and fluency. The teacher must understand the aims and objectives to master in spoken skills.

The productive skills are different from each other in many ways. The spoken language is often inconsistent and dynamic in nature except, recorded, whereas the written language can be kept as a record for future references. Misunderstanding while speaking can be cleared up instantly ‘on the spot’, which is not possible in writing. The written language is thoughtful and conscious process that needs more time and is monotonous but spoken language serves to deal with feelings, emotions and different situations to clarify doubts, if any, to make communication constructive and effective. Written language often uses long and complex sentences comparing to that of spoken language where the sentences are shorter and easier to understand. Therefore, we should adhere to different ways to learn, attain and deal English language learning and teaching.

4. Significance of the Study

The significance of this research is that it throws light on effects of students’ productive skills on teaching-learning process. The focus of research is EFL teachers and learners of Jazan University. This theoretical and qualitative study investigates students’ problems and motivation and teachers’ perceptions and perspectives on tackling these issues in EFL classroom settings. This study also shows the complications and their resistance to participate in classroom activities. Further, the conclusions and recommendations of this research may have significance in educational change in EFL curriculum and teaching style based on productive skills in EFL education.

5. Objectives

This study is intended to achieve

- Effectiveness and utilization of activities/materials in EFL classrooms
- Effectiveness of productive skills of English language – speaking and writing
- Both Productive and receptive skills are symbiotic
- To explore the skills and beliefs of EFL teachers regarding students’ level and motivation
- To explore the attitude and perceptions of EFL teachers about the Saudi students
- Effectiveness of ICT based activities on creating interest and motivation of students using ICT for learning.

6. Methodology

To explore and attain these objectives, a questionnaire was administered to the EFL teachers of College of Engineering, College of Computer Sciences and college of Business Administration. Then, the data was verified and evaluated through interviewing the teachers individually to know their perceptions, utility, effectiveness and significant issues of productive skills of Saudi EFL learners studying at Jazan University.

The study was conducted with the participation of 30 EFL teachers from the different colleges at Jazan University.

7. Data Analysis and Discussion

7.1 Demographic Data

There were 45 questionnaires delivered to EFL teachers selected randomly of the different colleges for boys and girls in the Jazan University, but only 30 questionnaires returned complete. The table 9.1 presents the gender details of the participants. Hence there were more numbers of males than the female participants in this part of the study.

Table 7.1

Teacher Participants: Gender

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7.2 Age

The second question focused on the age of the EFL teachers. The largest age group for all respondents was between 36 to 40 years (35%) for male and between 31 to 35 years (60%) for female, with the smallest category of (15%) respondents between 25 to 30 years (15%) for male and no female being aged 41 and above. The table shows that the second age groups were common for male between 31 to 35 years, and 41 years and above, and for female between 36 t0 40 years. Thus half of EFL teachers were under the age of 35 years.

The second question focused on the age of the EFL teachers. The largest age group for all respondents was between 31 to 35 years (11, 36.6%), with the smallest category of 4 (13.3%) respondents being aged 25 to 30 years. Table shows that the second and third most-common age groups were between 36 to 40 years, and 41 years and above, respectively. Thus nearly 83% of EFL teachers were under the age of 40 years.

Table 7.2

Teacher Participants: Age Cohorts

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The table 7.2 also shows that younger (25-30 years) and older age (41 years & above) categories of teachers were represented by men.

7.3 Education

Table 7.3 shows that the great majority of EFL teachers had a Master’s degree, a total of 18 participants (60%). The smallest group had bachelor’s degrees, 04 participants (13.3%), whilst the remainder 08 (26.7%) had doctorate degree.

Table 7.3

Teacher Participants: Highest Educational Qualification

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7.4 Teaching Experience

The questionnaire had a question on their teaching experience as an EFL teacher. Table shows that the greatest number of participants, 11 (36.7%), had between 6 to 10 years of experience, while the lowest number of participants, 5 (16.6%), had more than 16 years’ experience. Thus nineteen out of thirty EFL teachers had 10 or less than 10 years’ teaching experience.

Table 7.4

Teacher Participants: Teaching Experience

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7.5 Parent (Native) Language

Table 7.5 shows that the great majority of EFL teachers are those who have their native language other than Arabic, a total of 20 participants (66.7%). The remainder 10 (33.3%) had Arabic language as their first language, whilst there was no teacher having English as a first language.

Table 7.5

Teacher Participants: Native Language

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The second part of the questionnaire was based upon the productive skills for which the responses taken by the researcher through interview have been discussed elaborately in the succeeding head as speaking and writing skills respectively.

1. What do you mean by ‘Productive Skills’?

Most of the teachers answered to this question but they were not able to justify its relevance and applicability in context to Saudi students. All were articulating students’ low level and proficiency of English language and did not give precise answer.

2. What kinds of activities do you plan to develop students’ productive skills?

Most of the teachers didn’t give explicit, pertinent and specific answer and few were seen ignorant of these activities. Only a few teachers could name and justify activities on productive skills. The teachers showed their inability to conduct activities in the class the students are not motivated and not so serious towards attaining language proficiency.

3. Do you use exercises based on the use of ICT in your teaching?

The students use mobile phones, I-pads, laptops and other gadgets in real life but the teachers don’t plan activities based on ICT. The teachers’ clear response showed no activities planned and prepared for the students as all just teach their syllabus to pass the exam. It response were pathetic and irresponsible away from the moral and ethics of a teacher.

4. What is the level of students related to productive skills?

The teachers’ response was common and unanimous i.e. a very low level of English which gave clear reason of demotivation and deterrence of the teachers and students’ lack of interest and obliviousness of significance of English language in life.

5. How many lectures/periods do you have in a week?

6. What strategies do you adopt in class for the students to participate to hone and develop their productive skills?

7. What is medium of instruction and communication in the lecture?

8. What are the activities do you plan to improve their vocabulary and writing skills?

9. What are the activities do you conduct to improve their pronunciation??

10. How do you encourage and motivate your students to attend and participate in classroom activities?

7.6 Effective Ways to Handle Spoken Language in English Language Learning and Teaching

On the basis of the responses of the participants, the researcher further explored the syllabi and evaluation module of different classes to assess English language learning in the various schools in Saudi Arabia and found that the main focus of the teaching English is on reading and writing only and no attention is given to the listening and the speaking skills. The students are serious only in reading and writing to pass in English subject because they are evaluated only on these two aspects. The students speak Arabic all the time except few minutes of lecture in a day and don’t get social environment to use and develop listening and speaking skills. The more or the less is the situation at university also. But the English Language Centre at this University has motivated its faculty to provide a wider exposure of these receiving and productive skills and is producing the desired results. Besides teachers’ practices being followed to develop students’ productive skills, there are some effective ways through which English language learning can be improved:

- The Govt. of higher education has already set up language laboratories in the universities and trying to set up in schools also.
- The Saudi students graduated in English are being employed in schools to teach the foreign language and teach spoken English.
- Globalization, liberalization, setting up businesses and industries by foreign countries in Saudi Arabia in the recent years has paved the way to make a wide use of English. It further enhanced the job opportunities to Saudi students who are good in spoken English to carry out official work.
- The Govt. of Higher Education and the Universities at Saudi Arabia (those not included) should introduce an evaluation and assessment system that includes all the four skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking to evaluate its students in final examination.
- There is an independent department called Centre for Foreign languages that prepares the students and conduct TOFEL examination for the students who want to go abroad for their higher studies but it lacks in assessing spoken English. The learners have to strive hard to get good marks in this test.
- The teacher should focus on controlled activities- vocal, individual listening, and repetition of the teacher's modal of pronunciation, guided activities- model dialogues, guided role-play and creative activities that includes free role-plays, group discussions, debates, simulations, communication games.

The University English Language center is dynamic and consistent in improvising its curriculum and has positive effects on English language learning and teaching in Jazan University. The members of faculty reported that they are trying their level best to encourage, support and motivate students to draw attention to practical usages of English language, especially the learning of spoken language. The students are taught the current trends, and needs of the region, country and world to learn spoken language and get expertise in English pronunciation and intonation. There are differences in pronouncing vowel and consonants in English and few sounds don’t exist in Arabic language. The students have to be very careful in pronouncing such words and have adequate knowledge of English letters sound which don’t exist in Arabic language. The researcher found few English consonants, namely, /ŋ/, /p/, /v/, /l/, /ʤ/, /ð/, and /r/ as problematic ones for Arabic speakers. The wrong pronunciation may bring adverse results in communication. The syllabi at this university has listening audio conversation and answering the questions from the audio, dialogue practice, greetings, welcome note, debate, group discussion, organizing various activities by the students, provide adequate practice to enhance the speaking skills.

The teacher has to update and make use of ICT (Information and communication Technology) to create students’ interest in learning English language because speaking any language as a foreign language is a colossus task for the native speakers (Sharma: 2011). The learners must have the knowledge of phonemes, syllable, phonetics, stress and intonation for correct pronunciation of English words. The maximum time is spent on oral communication and there is a critical need to come out from traditional teaching-learning approach to the innovative modern approach as Bygate while discussing how to learn spoken language has cited some traditional methods for learning spoken language, he says,

“Ten years later, during which time this approach to teaching oral skills had been widely adopted, David Wilkins pointed out there were some learning problems that exercises like these did not solve. An important one is that of ensuring a satisfactory transition from supervised learning in the classroom to real-life use of the skill. This transition is often called the “transfer of skills”. (Bygate, 1991, p. 6).

Byte has favoured learning in real-life situations where learners get an opportunity to use and exploit their learning of English language. The learners try to transfer their classroom learning into real-life environment. The teachers are asked to interact with students in English and create English language learning environment that doesn’t exist outside the classroom or formal interactions. But we at English Language Center, have planned various activities for students keep in regular touch with English. The teacher has planned various societies for the students ie English Clubs that provides a platform for the students to showcase their talent in activities like slogan writing, story writing, poetry writing, social networking etc. The students meet during club activities under mentorship to talk in English language. The students are supplied with the CDs and are given ample exercises on audio in the laboratory where they can learn independently and under scanner also. Yule has commented on the method of learning and teaching spoken English, he says:

“Audiolingual method, a very different approach, emphasizing the spoken language, became popular in the 1950s. This involved a systematic presentation of the structures of the L2, moving from the simple to the more complex, often in the form of drills which the students had to repeat. This approach, called the Audiolingual method, was strongly influenced by the belief that the fluent use of a language was essentially a set of ‘habits’ which could be developed with a lot of practice.” (Yule, 1996, p. 193)

There is a universal proverb prevails in all the countries that ‘Practice makes a man perfect’ and through the audiolingual method the learner improves in learning of spoken language. While repeating the contents - simple to complex or same contents, the learner become habitual consequently make him/her to produce spoken language in foreign language from intentionally to somewhat automatically and speak the foreign language more naturally.

The learners encounter many real-life problems in the process of learning English language. The vast inflow of people of varied cultures, languages and countries made these skills indispensable for all students who are looking for their career opportunities. The peoples’ perception and thinking is also getting a facelift and advancing towards a global culture and language to gain momentum and eminence to function effectively building a strong bonding and intra & interpersonal relationship in the society. It has created a space for all languages and cultures to move from rigidity to flexibility in communication as Bygate rightly said:

“…in a reciprocal exchange, a speaker will often have to adjust his or her vocabulary and message to take the listener into account. The speaker also has to participate actively in the interlocutor’s message—asking questions, reacting and so on. This is something which requires an ability to be flexible in communication, and a learner may need to be prepared for it.”(Bygate, 1991, p. 8)

The learners have to be very careful in their use of English language in exchanging their views with the people of other languages and nationalities. They need to acquire vocabulary that consists of synonyms, antonyms, idioms, phrases, words often confused, homonyms, homophones, semantics, tenses and other vital grammatical aspects. At times, the learners face problems choosing right word at right place at a right time to respond, express and influence constructively. We try to teach all the skills of language acquisition to the students at this university with adequate exposure in real-life situations. There is no standard English in the world but it differs in pronunciation, intonation, lexical and other aspects. The students are motivated, encouraged and facilitated with many audio-visual programs, live chat, debate on TV, English movies and other authentic material than their own text books. Besides emphasizing on pronunciation and intonation, we also focus on socio-cultural aspects of people belonging to different languages, traditions and nationalities because any wrong selection of words in spoken English may jeopardize your purpose of communication and affect business relations.

The learners should acquaint and expertise themselves at all the skills of target foreign language and use them in real-life situations using English knowledge judiciously. The researcher belongs to India and observed many socio-cultural and English pronunciation differences at Saudi Arabia but he came up and made equilibrium in both the situations and now performing well in teaching English language to Saudi students.

7.7. Effective ways to handle Written Language in English language Learning and Teaching

It is well known fact that writing came after the speaking and later it developed to serve various functions. This is one of the toughest skills to learn which involves expressing oneself or the purpose clearly, using right words and language; creating, compiling and paraphrasing rational ideas to respond effectively. It involves structure of the contents, its style and the content on the matter. The researcher experienced in class that “the main problem in writing is attributed to spelling mistakes as it has been noted that many English language learners, including Arab students, have difficulties with English spelling” (Al-zuoud, K. M., & Kabilan, 2013).

In many ways writing is the most neglected skill in the TEFL world ‘teaching English as a foreign language’, as many teachers don’t attend ‘office hours’. Writing, therefore, is often relegated to homework, which in turn is frequently not done so the skill is never developed. The students are prone to commit spelling mistakes because of the differences in the orthographic system between Arabic and English, and first language (L1) interference. Consequently, these spelling difficulties cause many spelling errors which negatively affect the writing proficiency of Arab students (Saiegh-Haddad, 2004).

The researcher has tried to overcome this problem by preparing exercises on related topics for practice and motivating the students to write in the class room itself and it produced good results. The learners may speak English easily but they lack in writing. Yule rightly mentioned that:

“When we consider the development of writing, we should bear in mind that a very large number of the languages found in the world today are used only in the spoken form. They do not have a written form. For those languages which do have writing systems, the development of writing, as we know it, is a relatively recent phenomenon. …” (Yule, 1996, p. 9).

Many countries have made it compulsory for the admissions to various programmes to assess this skill through different tests like TOEFL, IELTS which reflects the level of the learners in written language. The contents of the written language will show the standard and level of the learners in English language. The ELC of university has its vision to enhance this skill required for working professionals and for written communication too. The faculty emphasize on developing writing skills of the students through intensive teaching of grammar, conducting and penning down the activities, written exercises on real-life situations, writing e-mails, formal and informal letters and many more. Of course, it is a hard nut to crack but a sound knowledge of syntax, semantics, comprehensions and different writing styles and formats leads learners to write effectively and impress the readers. Tribble expresses the vitality and complexity of English writing as:

“An ability to speak well—fluently, persuasively, appropriately—is something that most of us would hope to achieve in our first language. It is also an objective for many learners of a foreign language, especially those who wish to do business internationally, or to study to travel in English speaking countries. An ability to write appropriately and effectively is, however, something which evades many of us, in our mother tongues or in any other languages we may wish to learn, and this in spite of the many years which are frequently devoted to the development of the skill.” (Tribble, 1997, p. 3)

It is worthy here to mention that correct and precise writing is difficult in all languages and needs practice to attain expertise and when a learners starts writing in the foreign language like here at Saudi Arabia, he faces lots of difficulties because of lack of the fundamental knowledge of English language. The concerted efforts should be made to teach, develop through practice and evaluate the writing skills from school level. Later on, the basic and in-depth knowledge along with knowledge of 7Cs would definitely make the learners more confident and competent in writing formal or informal contents.

8. Conclusion

This article attains partially its first objective of effectiveness of utilization of various materials for productive skills teaching that found application to an authentic productive skills strategies drawn from research findings that teachers can be encouraged to put their intuitions into practice. One limitation of this suggestion lies in contradictions among research findings, for example, conflicting perspectives on the role of L1 equivalents in L2 English words pronunciation and vocabulary-learning. The teachers were unanimous on the low level of the students as EFL learners, given as objectives because of non-seriousness at school. Moreover, the various speaking and writing skills- teaching strategies suggested in this study need to be variably applied to EFL students strictly as per their proficiency levels. Although the number of studies reviewed and employed here are limited, but they do yield implications for EFL productive skills that teachers may use as theoretical suggestions for preparing study materials. The teachers also opened up their views on the lack of motivation in the Saudi students towards learning EFL. Then, they also recognized the fact that they hardly make use of ICT in their classroom teaching.

The primary focus of this article is to study the effectiveness of productive skills of English language – speaking and writing but at the same time it is difficult to separate them from receptive skills– reading and listening because they are all mutually supportive learning activities. The function of language is to exchange ideas, thoughts, and opinion formally or informally in multiple contexts and situations with others to maintain certain interpersonal relationships. Both speaking and writing skills have similarities and differences and the teacher has to adopt different methods and strategies of teaching to the learners. Choosing a correct approach to enhance speaking and writing skills is a colossus and challenging task in Saudi Arabia. The English Language Centre at Jazan University suggests and experiments various new teaching pedagogies judiciously to empower the English language learners with better fluency in speaking and accuracy in writing respectively. Creative writing should be encouraged, as it engages the learners and the finished work usually provides them with the sense of pride, confidence and self- recognition. The implications of this study suggest that the teachers should be more creative in constructing learning experiences for their students and teach coping strategies as part of students’ repertories of productive skills.

References

Al-zuoud, K. M., & Kabilan, M. K. (2013). Investigating Jordanian EFL Students’ Spelling Errors at Tertiary Level. International Journal of Linguistics, 5 (3), 164-176.

Brown, G & Yule, G. (1983). Teaching the Spoken Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bygate, M. (1991). Speaking. Walton Street, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kachru, B. 1985. ‘Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: the English language in the outer circle’ in R.Quirk and H. G.Widdowson (eds.). English in the World: Teaching and Learning the Language and Literatures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kachru, B. and C. Nelson. 2001. ‘World Englishes’ in A. Burns and C. Coffin (eds.). Analysing English in a Global Context. London: Routledge.

Kuo, I-C. (2006). Addressing the Issue of Teaching English as a Lingua Franca. ELT Journal 60.3, 213-220.

Matsuda, A. 2003. ‘Incorporating world Englishes in teaching English as an international language’. TESOL Quarterly 37/4: 719–29.

McCarthy,M. and R. Carter. 1995. ‘Spoken grammar: what is it and how can we teach it?’ ELT Journal 49/3: 207–18.

Melchers, G. and P. Shaw. 2003. World Englishes. London: Arnold.

Nunan, D. 2003. ‘The impact of English as a global language on educational policies and practices in the Asia-Pacific Region’. TESOL Quarterly 37/4: 589–613.

Rajagopalan, K. 2004. ‘The concept of ‘World English’ and its implication for ELT’. ELT Journal 58/2: 111–17.

Saiegh-Haddad, E. (2004). The impact of phonemic and lexical distance on the phonological analysis of word and pseudo words in a diglossic context. Applied Psycholinguistics, 25, 495-512.

Sharma, Vipin. K. (2011). ICT in Classrooms. Retrieved 4 November 2015 from https://www.academia.edu/14883333/Introduction_of_ICT_in_Today’s_Classroom

Sharma, Vipin K. (2014). Blended Learning- A Boon or Bane for Teacher-Learner. Indian Streams Research Journal, 4 (4), 1-6. https://www.academia.edu/14413754/Blended_Learning_a_Boon_or_Bane_For_Teacher-Learner

Sharma, Vipin K. (2014). Teaching of ESL through Literature. The Criterion: An International Journal in English, 5(03).

Tribble, C. (1997). Writing. Great Clarendon Street, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Yule, G. (1996). The Study of Language 2nd ed. Trumpington Street, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zhang, B (2013). An Analysis of Spoken Language and Written Language and How They Affect English Language Learning and Teaching. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 834-838.

Appendix

Questionnaire

This questionnaire is the part of a survey study designed to identify the effects of Saudi students’ productive skills on their teaching and learning process, as observed and experienced by the members of faculty in and outside EFL classroom teaching at various colleges in English Language Center, Jazan University. It pursues real belief of the participating EFL teachers on the research topic. The information collected through this questionnaire will not be revealed to anyone at any stage and will be used only for this research project. This participation is totally open. The filling up this form indicates your inclination to be a part of this research. Writing your name is optional.

You are requested to tick the best ones you think appropriate.

Demographic Information

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Perspectives on EFL teaching and students’ Communicative Competence

16. What do you mean by ‘Productive Skills’?

17. What kinds of activities do you plan to develop students’ productive skills?

18. Do you use exercises based on the use of ICT in your teaching?

19. What is the level of students related to productive skills?

20. How many lectures/periods do you have in a week?

21. What strategies do you adopt in class for the students to participate to hone and develop their productive skills?

22. What is medium of instruction and communication in the lecture?

23. What are the activities do you plan to improve their vocabulary and writing skills?

24. What are the activities do you conduct to improve their pronunciation??

25. How do you encourage and motivate your students to attend and participate in classroom activities?

26. Do you give students exercises for practice purposes or home-work?

27. How do you evaluate the productive skills of your students?

Thanks a lot for your cooperation

42 of 42 pages

Details

Title
Perceptions and Perspectives on Saudi Students’ Productive skills and Communicative Competence in English as a Foreign Language
Subtitle
A Critical Study
College
Jazan University - KSA  (English Language Center)
Course
ESP
Author
Year
2016
Pages
42
Catalog Number
V350899
ISBN (Book)
9783668378308
File size
3091 KB
Language
English
Tags
perceptions, perspectives, saudi, students’, productive, communicative, competence, english, foreign, language, critical, study
Quote paper
Vipin K Sharma (Author), 2016, Perceptions and Perspectives on Saudi Students’ Productive skills and Communicative Competence in English as a Foreign Language, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/350899

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