Saudi University Students Learning English A Case Study of Taibah University

SAUDI UNIVERSITY STUDENTS LEARNING ENGLISH 1

Saudi University Students LearningEnglish: A Case Study of Taibah University

Institution Affiliation

CONTENTS

Saudi University Students Learning English 3

Abstract 3

1.0 Introduction 4

1.1 Problem Definition and Scope 4

1.2 Research Background 9

1.3 Problem Statement 14

1.4 Scope of the study 15

1.5 Research Questions 16

1.6 Research Objectives 16

1.6.1 Specific Objectives 16

1.6.2 Statement of Ultimate Objective 17

2.0 Literature Review 17

2.1 Theoretical Review 17

2.1.1 Sociocultural Theory (SCT) of Second Language Acquisition. 17

2.1.2 The Linguistic Theory 19

2.1.3 The Natural Approach 21

2.1.4 Relational Frame Theory (RFT) 23

2.2 Empirical Literature 25

2.3 Research Hypotheses 39

3.0 Methodology 41

3.1 Research Design 41

3.2 Research Strategy 42

3.3 Data and Data Collection Instruments 42

3.4 Data Analysis 44

4.0 Results and Discussion of Findings. 45

5.0 Conclusions and recommendations. 50

6.0 References 52

SaudiUniversity Students Learning English Abstract

This study sought to scrutinize the preferred English vocabularylearning strategies of Saudi university students in the context ofTaibah University with an overriding objective of determining whichamongst them is the most appropriate. To achieve this, the paperundertook a vast and detailed literature review, which revealed thatthere are quite a variety of vocabulary teaching and learningstrategies being applied in Saudi universities, which all havecertain advantages and demerits. The study employed a mixed methodsanalysis mainly consisting of quantitative techniques in theanalytical framework and obtained particularly interesting results.The paper notes that the best English learning strategy is thelearner-oriented technique. Moreover, this technique has to take intoaccount the level of advancement of the learners, their initialgrounding in grammar, and the technicalities that trouble Arabspeakers of English and maybe to some extent gender considerations.Otherwise, the SLA in Saudi universities as far as English isconcerned will always be illusionary.

Key words: English, Strategy, Techniques, Grammar.

1.0Introduction1.1Problem Definition and Scope

English has widely been defined as a West German language of thecountry England. As a language, English has managed to establishitself as the most acceptable language of communication in the world.More aptly, English has become the ‘Lingua Franca’ of theglobe (Crystal, 1997) and a particularly vital means of communicationin Saudi Arabia (Khan, 2011). With the increased globalization andtechnological spread, English has not only gained currency as animportant language of communication but has become a very criticalinstrument of formal communication today. Figure 1.0 shows theproportions of English speakers by region. One outstanding reason whyEnglish needs to be considered as the language of the world is thatthe world’s knowledge is ostensibly preserved in it.

The language has also gained immense currency the world over becauseit is considered fashionable and there is a general tendency for mostpeople around the world to voluntarily adopt its usage. Mainly due tothis reason, it has emerged as the most preferred language even incertain regions of the world where the native languages ought to beprioritized above it. When it comes to certain countries and regionswhere the language serves a minimal purpose, like in Saudi Arabia, ithas however become difficult especially when it has to be taught as aforeign language. It has been noted with much concern that theteaching and learning of English in Saudi Arabia has not always easy.This is an issue that has attracted much attention of researchers andthis is especially so since the issue has been found to cut acrossother disciplines over and above academics.

The teaching of the language in most universities and tertiaryinstitutions in Saudi Arabia does well to solidify the roots of thelanguage and ground the students with the fundamental tenets of thelanguage that will be used to administer other ostensibly advancedcourses to the students. Such courses may encompass an array ofdisciplines such as health, education, sociology, history andhistory. This endeavor is even more convenient since in Saudi, alarge number of students have been travelling to foreign, mostlyEnglish-speaking countries either for education or even on tourismand employment. This necessitates that Saudi University students takeup English lessons in an effort to enhance their flexibility in theglobalized world. In Saudi Arabia, however, the language is taught intertiary institutions but it does not enjoy a preferred role andposition in the country’s curriculum as it does in other developingeconomies. Despite the several efforts put in place by policy makers,which include a well-structured curriculum to carter for the teachingof English, provision of textbooks, competent staff and effectivemonitoring and evaluation, there is quite a lot that needs to be doneso as to improve the passing on of the intended skills to thelearners who are on the receiving end. It has been noted that thelearning institutions in Saudi are well equipped to teach English andshould therefore be able to produce the desired outcomes. Moreover,most lecturers of the language are motivated and are said to receiveperks even much better than those of their counterparts in developedworld (Shuttleworth Foundation, 2008). It is this failure that hasnecessitated a host of researches to be conducted in this particulartopic so as to establish the exact cause of the failure by examiningthe entire process of students learning English in Saudi Arabia. Mostscholars have espoused the belief that the undesirable outcomes inthe teaching and learning of English is attributebale to the initialendemic approach of learning the language right from the elementarylevels. For this reason, there has been an overwhelming concesus forthe advocates of using hybrid techniques to teach english as aforeign language in Saudi.

There are quite a numbe of atrocities that face students in the Gulfregion and by extension, Saudi Arabia while trying to learn Englishas a foreign language. Since the natives of the country speak theirlocal language and largely apply it in virtually every transaction,the niche, it at all it may exist, ofity learning English, is jus butvery meagre. ,Moreover, it has been noted in most studies that amajority of university and college students are usually immature intheir writing when doing so in English as aptly noted by Abdul Haq(1982). This observations were confirmed by several other studies.For instance, while studying the learning of foreign lanuages inJordan, Zughoul (1984) noted that most students who were in the EFLtutorials had poor communication skills and are highly likely tocommit serious gramatical and substantial errors while writing ofspeaking in English. More specifically, there are studies that havegone an inch further in this discipline and quite a majority haveidentified the particular areas in the language that the studentshave weaknesse. The students in EFL classes are mostly troubled whenit comes to the usage of tenses, use of nouns and pronouns and otherbasic tenets of the language (Kambal, 1980). Despite the vastliterature with regards to the learning of English in SaudiArabia,pedagogues and linguists have yet a different perspectiveregarding the subject. Most of this experts posit that the mosteffective method of teaching English is through translating it intothe nartive language of the region of concern. Others advocate forthe teaching of the klanguage at the elementary level just lik thenative language is taught: right from the earliest age possible. Bothsides of the debate are versed with a host of empirical evidence toback their arguments but whichever way, what comes out rather clearlyis that outcome oriented technique ought to take center stage.

In the teaching of English in Saudi, the teachers of the languagehave chosen to adopt various approaches such as situational deliverytechniques, communicative approach, and the oral-oriented techniques.Most teachers in Saudi have been found to adopt the situationaltechnique while still others are stuck with the ‘traditional’technique of translating English grammar to native languages. Butthere are situational reservations to this endeavor, especiallyconsidering that the language is exotic to most countries, SaudiArabia included. The roots of the language in the country is trcedback to the twentieth century where oil doscovery in the countryattracted many multinationals and this immediately necessitated thelearning and teaching of English in Saudi.

This study comes at a time when several studies have been done toassess the strategies employed in the learning of foreign languages,there are not so many that have endeavored to assess the use oflearning English in the Saudi Arabia EFL context (Al Otaibi, 2004).Due to the fact that not much has been done on the case of Saudi,this study seeks to dig into the learning of English as a secondlanguage by the Saudi university students. It has been noted withmuch concern however, that over and above the efforts being made bythe government to improve the learning of English in Saudi, there isa gross lack of motivation among the undergaraduate students. Thesignificance of motivation in the learning process cannot beunderestimated. It serves to provide the much needed enthusism anddrive for the students as they seek to equip themselves with thelanguage i.e. EFL/ ESL. Motivation comes in handy as a criticalingredient for students learning English since the process involvessome form of an overhaul, an alteration of perceptions and theintegration of new social and cultural means (Williams,1994).Motivation has also been espoused as the very fundamental of thelearning process without which no learning process can takeplace(Schmitt, 1992).

The claim that lack of primal motivation in the undergraduateuniversity students in Saudi Arabia has been the main reason why somemeasures were taken so as to supplement the curriculum in thecountry. More specifically, the introduction of the English LanguageCentres (ELCs) and the Preparatory Year Programs (PYP) in thecountry’s tertiary institutions has been largely attributed to thelack of motivation from the learners. This measures, taken together,have played a major role in stimulating the much desired prospectiveshift to a learner-oriented pedagogy as compared to the initialteracher-centered techniques. This efforts seem to have played acritical role in breeding an initiative among the learners of thelanguage in Saudi even as there exists a scarcity in the researchconcerning the motivational drives of the students (EFL) in thecountry especially with regards to the students gender and theirdisciplines of specialization. This techniques have gained wideacceptability especially due to the fact that for success inanything, and English learning by extension, the impact of selfimageis the operating element. Effort in academcs and motivation toachieve have been found to characterise all successful strategiesused in teacghing and learning English in universities. This kind ofmotivation has been described as an abstract and highly subjectiveconstruct that have intrinsic sources (Dornyei, 2001).

For the past many years, the existing studies that have beenunderyaken in the discipline of learning and teaching second language(L2), where English falls in the context of Saudi Arabia, the modesof delivery have greatly shifted from the teacher-oriented tolearner-oriented techniques. Owing to this reatively new phenomenon,there are questions sorrounding the mechanisms through which thetargeted learners digest new information and more so the form oftechniques they engage so as to absorb, ingest and encode theinformation that they gain.This shift in techniques has become theprimary preoccupation of researchers studying the larning of English by the university students in Saudi (Cohen, 1998). In severalresearches embodying this discipline, the fundamental concern hasbeen establish the positive thing that learners espouse as what theyundertake to learn, or rather, what they are actually observed to beengaging in so as to learn the foreign language (Weden &amp Rubin,1998). There is yet to be a single study that espouses the variousEnglish teaching and learning strategies adopted in the universitiesand tertiary institutions in Saudi Arabia. This project seeks tocomprehend the strategies that have been explored in the pastregarding English learning among Saudi University students, with theaim of determining the most effective one amongst the varioustechniques employed.

1.2Research Background

The literature relating to learning English in Saudi in general hasgrown immensely over the years but it is important to note thatstudies on the current discipline are not as much. The basic problemthat has been observed is tht students from the gulf region in whichSaudi is located encounter difficulties in speakind as well aswriting English. This is estabvlished following the studies of manyresearchers including Abdul Haq (1982) and (Williams,1994). Theteachers of English have further been puzzled by an array of severalpsycho-linguistic hypotheses touching on this areas.A theory that hasalways been espoused here is that of teaching English as a secondlanguage to the native states’ language (arabic) throughtranslations of grammar. This technique has its roots in Germany andcentral Europe and fundamentally involves a grammar translationstructure which was later adopted by the rest of the bilingualregions. The second technique that has been ascertained bytheoritical literature in this field is the direct method said tohave emerged towards the end of the nineteenth century but which hasalso received a lot of criticism. The advocates of this techniqueshave put forth various cases as to the suitability andineffectiveness of each technique. However, it is not lost in manythat effective teaching and learning of English in Saudi Arabia is anissue of great consern which many researchers have conceptualiseddifferently over time (Kembler, 2001).Some research works like thatof Westwood (1966) have difined it widely as whichever methods thatlead to learning and ultimately understanding. Behavioralopsychologists and other scholars have also defined the problem intheir very own perceptions and conceptualizations of the learningprocess.

Research on the teaching and learning of English in the gulf regionhas provided deep insights into the reasons why the teaching ofEnglish in the region has not yielded desired outcomes despite themassive resources invested towards achieving the preset goals(Zughoul, 1986). It has been noted that despite allocating a sizeable6% of their GDP on ELT, the countries in the gulf region (includingSaudi Arabia) are yet to reap the proceeds of this outrageousspending (Abed, 2003). Further research in this areas has shown thatSaudi English students, just like other Arab learners, are not ableto achieve the required competency in the native language even afterbeing in the classes for a long period of time. Moreover, it has beenreported that the proficiency of Saudi students’ language is muchmore wanting than their counterparts in the rest of the globe(Tushyeh, 1988). There has been quite a number of reserchers who haveinvestigated thereasons behind this worsening situation, in most ofthem, it has been reported that there is lack of a firmadministration in the universities and tertiary institutions in Saudithat has seen the enrollment of students who do not meet the setthresholds to the ELT classes (Kaur, 2003).

The specific weaknesses that Saudi university studentsof English face has been espoused in the many papers that have been done in thisparticular field. In fact, due to the magnitude of this probem, inthe year 1983, the University of Jordan organised an internationalconference to address the problem of learning English by Arablearners more so in the gulf region. A study by Mukattash (1983)observed that the Arab learners commit grave mistakes in theirwriting and part of the larger problem in ELT has been greatlyattributed to the exessive emphasis on literature majors in the Saudiuniversities and other major institutions of learning. It has beenascertained that ELT students majorly have problems in grammar,syntax and semantics (AbiSamra, 2003). The figure 1.2 below shows thepercentages of mistakes as commited by the learners of English inSaudi.

Adopted from AbiSamra (2003).

After critically investigating the ETL curricula in majoruniversities in Saudi, Zughoul (1983) posited that the teaching andlearning of English in Saudi Unibversities, other than beingallocated more time in the departmental schudules, it does structurethe curricular of post-primary schools. Futher, the study observedthat the specific departments did not undertake proper teaching ofthe language and that this is anchored on the premise that thestudents who are enrolled into the respective ELT classes are alreadycompetent in English. Reading, listening, speaking and writing inEnglish have been identified as the four tenets of English all ofwhich Saudi university students score very low (Suleiman, 1983). Thiscoould be the reason why Saudi students who register forinternational competency tests usually score very low on a relativescale as noted by Rababah (2001). For quite a long time now, theteaching and learning of English in the Saudi universities and otherinstitutions has been largely characterised by the ‘traditional’teacher-oriented vertical methodswhich leaves little space for thestudents to make a serious initiative towards owning their study ofEnglish.

One other issue that has had the attention of researchers so far asthe strategies for teaching and learning of English in Saudiuniversities are concerned embodies the attributes of the teacherswho are entrusted with this responsibility. Some studies done in thepast have recommended that the teachers who should be entrusted withteaching the language in Saudi learning institutions should be thenative speakers of the language or essentially L1. However, thispropoition has been refuted for the reason that being a nativespeaker of the language is never a guarantee that an individual iscompetent enough to teach in the Saudi tertiary institutions. Mostpundits posited that the unreliable methods being employed by thetertiary institutions and some questionable criteria used to evaluatethe competencies of potential English tachers in the institutions(Alosaimi, 2007). Past research has raised an issue of contentionthat there are candidates who may be particularly flawless I theirspeaking of the language but are not necessarily competent in theirdelivery skills which matter the mostto ESL learners. Moreover,research has shown that the English teaching fraternity in Saudi andother countries in the gulf region often assumes that a host ofproblems encountered by students in the ELS classes embody the degreeto which the students tend to commit linguistic mistakes mostlyattributed to the interference of their L1, what has come to bereferred to as the L1 transmission of the bi-lingual effects (Dulayet al, 1982). In fact, researchers trying to establish the bestEnglish teaching technique in Saudi ELS and LLS classes have come tonote that the best technique of teaching the language in Saudi is onewhich tries as much as possible to strike a correlation between thestructural composition of English and the native’s language. Thisis so because it has been ascertained that the elements of Englishthat are similar to the native language will always be easier for thestudents to comprehend relative to those elements which are differentfrom the native language Lado (1957). Past studies have ascertainedthat the channels of multi-lingual distortions are the very instancesthat diverge from the conventions of language owing to the speakersdegree of familiarity with other languages other than their L1(Nair,1966: Khan, 1997). In yet other crucial surveys on the suitability ofEnglish teaching methods on Saudi, it has been established that basedof the observation that every single English student from thenonnative speaking regions spoke with an accent created an extentthat portrayed lack of some intelligence which conditioned them tolaugh at each other (Bista, 2010).

Research has sought to espouse the areas where an effevctivetechnique of teaching English in Arab countries ought to lay moreeffort. There are quite a variety of errors that have been observedespecially concernig the phrasal verbs, sequence of tenses,substitution of tenses and the areas on the agreement of subjects andverbs. Issues on the second and first person singular were also foundto be critically troubling the English learners in Saudi in general(Kambal, 1980). Al-Hazmi &amp Scholfield (2007) further observedthat bmost teaching and learning techniques in Saudi were teachercentred to the extent that this basic fundamental problems affectingEnglish speakers were overlooked at the expense of hiringArab-speaking teachers to teach the language. The Arab-speakingteachers, they observed, were ostensibly better positioned to teachEnglish for the simple reason that they are able to convey theconcepts that are not easy to conceive to their students using thecommon ground: L1. In more specific case studies of this scenario, ithas been noted that the teachers usually instruct the students toaccomplish their assignments either in their classrooms or carry homethe tasks. Further, the English teaching practice in most Saudiuniversities it is left to the discretion of the students to revisetheir work. The findings here confirm most observations that Englishteachers and instructors usually rely on the individual initiativesof the students to learn the language. This proposition has drawn alarge criticism especially since the very motivation of Arab studentsto learn English is in itself suspect. However, to some degree, thetechnique has been found to be particularly effective since ityencourages the students to own the learning process and thereafterresults in the best learning outcomes.

1.3Problem Statement

This paper sought to critically investigate the techniques ofteaching and learning English in Saudi Arabia universities with anoverriding aim to assess which amongst them is the best anchored oneffectiveness of each method and the most preferred learning strategyby English learners. In this endeavor, it was important to firstidentify the techniques that have been used to teach English andcontinue to be used even today. In order to achieve the aim of thestudy, this was followed suit with a rigorous analysis of the methodsto scrutinize them for weaknesses and more so strength. The problemof learning English in Saudi has attracted research attention due tothe conflicting reasons that have been provided by variousresearchers who have endeavored to study this problem.

There are so many variables that influence the teaching and learningoutcomes in Saudi universities. The students encounter problems inthe ELS classes since they do not begin the learning of English at anearly age. It has also been found that the particular surrounding inwhich students live also affects their learning outcomes of thelanguage. Unique to the case of Saudi is the fact that most parentsare even reluctant to enroll their children to ELS classes due to anarray of factors, which include low income or lack of interest.Moreover, it has been found that a majority of the students do notachieve the required competency in speaking and writing of Englisheven after completing the formal training process since thetechniques applied in teaching English are either teacher-centered orotherwise student-centered but without the required threshold supportfrom the respective teachers.

Any teaching and learning strategies therefore, must address each ofthe factors listed above. The technique ought to promote the muchsought self-drive in the students for them to own the learningprocess as well as encourage the teachers to augment their basicdelivery skills to students. The technique should also be one thathas been tested for effectiveness over time and has been found to bereliable. The teaching and learning of English in Saudi universitiesis characterized by a variety of problems. The problems that inhibitthe learning process in the campuses are multi-fold, they range fromthe teacher to student attributes and as encompass the very technicalaspects like the specific tenets of English that trouble thestudents. The best learning strategies ought to address all thisconcerns and should be result-oriented.

1.4Scope of the study

The study will only be limited to the learning of English in theuniversities in Saudi and not the country at large of the entire gulfregion as has been the case with most studies in this discipline. Thepaper will be concerned with the teaching and learning techniques asapplied in the ELS classes in the Saudi universities. It will beconstrained by the number of universities in Saudi as well as theproportion of English learning students in these institutions. Thestudy will not be overly concerned with the specific reason forlearning the language but will employ the use of students in Saudicampuses as the subject of analysis.

1.5Research Questions

The major research question that this paper seeks to answers is“Which, amongst the available techniques of teaching English is thebest?’’. The following subordinate research questions will asmuch serve to guide the course of this study.

  1. What is the most prevalent LLSP (Language Learning Style Preference) in Saudi Arabia university students that are studying English major?

  2. Which are the most prevalent strategies for vocabulary learning that the Saudi students use in comprehension?

  3. Is there a link between the use of vocabulary learning strategies and the performance of the students in writing?

  4. What teaching strategies are most effective in meeting this need for vocabulary learning?

1.6Research Objectives1.6.1Specific Objectives

By the end of this research study, and in the context of TaibahUniversity, the study should be able:

  1. To explore the learning strategies that have been employed in Saudi Arabian universities.

  2. To espouse the feelings of the students regarding the application of the strategies in (I) above.

  3. To investigate the vocabulary learning strategies that students use in comprehension.

  4. To investigate the various strategies that teachers apply to impart vocabulary knowledge in Saudi students.

  5. To connect the strategies that are used with the learning style preference of the students.

  6. To comprehend the effectiveness of the said strategies in enhancing learning among students.

1.6.2Statement of Ultimate Objective

The study seeks to ascertain the best vocabulary learning strategyamongst the existing techniques in the Taibah University, merge theidentified strategy with the outcomes in learner preference, and usethis to generate crucial insights to the learning of English by Saudiuniversity students. This will have curriculum developmentimplications for the English departments in the institutions.

2.0LITERATURE REVIEW

This section critically reviews the vast body of literature availableon the learning strategies of English in Saudi universities with aview to espouse the niche identified by the study as well ascritically analyze the findings of various researchers on theefficiency of various learning strategies that have been applicableby the Saudi university students learning English. The literaturereview is divided into two sections, the theoretical literaturereview and the empirical literature review.

2.1Theoretical Review

This part reviews the theory of learning strategies in general. Thesection tries to ascertain the prescriptions of the various theoriesthat have been espoused to explain the best techniques of teachingand learning English in general and by extension, Saudi Arabia.

2.1.1Sociocultural Theory (SCT) of Second Language Acquisition.

This theory of learning a second language is attributed to L.SVygotsky a Russian psychologist. The theory posits that the languagelearning process as manifested in the human brain is basically apre-mediated process structured by cultural facets, activities andprocesses. In this kind of structure, human beings are conceived asutilizing the already existing cultural facets in a bid to createcompletely new organizations, which will ultimately enable them tocondition their physiological and behavioral actions and processes.More practically, the learning processes in general and by extension,L2, occurs through the participation in socio-cultural settings suchas the clan and family interactions and at more advanced levels,through institutional frameworks like in the universities. The theorysuggests that while the neurobiology of humans is the critical factorthat conditions advanced reasoning in the learning process, the verycrucial factors in the human cognitive dimensions are bred throughthe social and cultural contexts. These cognitive dimensions of thelearning process are usually the most important tenets in the secondlanguage acquisition (SLA) which embodies English in Saudi.

The sociocultural theory, in its functional constructs, proposes auniversal premise of the functioning of the human brain. In this, itis suggested that to comprehend a new language necessitated acompletely new and relatively different way of thinking. To advanceits arguments, the theory suggests that the human mental structurecomprises a lower stratum called the lower stratum-neurological basebut the elucidating aspect of mental sobriety and cognition is itsvery capability to condition biological changes through thehigher-stratum instruments that include language and numericalcapabilities. These higher-stratum instruments are the convenientbarriers between the human and the environment and therefore act as afilter between the individual and other external concepts.

The sociocultural theory further uses the above phenomenon to explainthe role of learning a second language through acquisition. It positsthat imitation as a learning strategy plays a vital role in the SLA.Researchers interrogating this argument have found more evidence tosupport it by observing that contrary to popular conceptions,imitation is a sophisticated process, which engages the neurologicalprocesses. It is particularly observed that it is always difficult toemulate what we, in, common parlance, conceive as an intentionalundertaking (Nelson, 1989: Tomasello, 2003). What many scholars havefound as striking in the theory is the proposition by the theory thatimitation, which is a key tenet of this theory, is a phenomenon thatis conditioned and does not necessarily have to take place on theheels of a pattern having been created in the human mindset. Ifanything, imitation is found to occur after an elapse of timepreferably a day following the formation of the pattern in the humanbrain (Meltzorff, 2002).

The SCT is particularly relevant and critical to this study since inas much as it is widely applicable in research endeavors, it is asmuch usable in advancing the learning process of SLA (Thorne,2004).Essentially, this theory makes a convincing case for theincorporation of sociocultural interventions in the learningmechanisms adopted by the language learners and more specifically,those who seek SLA.

2.1.2The Linguistic Theory

This theory of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) is also widelyreferred to as communicative competence or cognitive languagecompetence in most literature concerning the acquisition of secondlanguage and is mostly traced back to the beginning of the 1970s. Bycompetence, the theory implies, the abilities to interpret, negotiateand aptly express one’s self using an acquired language. As opposedto the sociocultural theory, this theory incorporates both social andcultural perspectives (just like the sociocultural theory) as well asthe psychological constructs of linguistics I the realm of SLA. Thetheory basically proposes that the best language teaching andlearning strategy ought to conform to the communicative desires ofthe ELS students, a proposition supported by the conclusions of (Van,1975).

To further, comprehend this theory with respect to the primarypreoccupation of this paper, it is important to review briefly, howit came to be. The roots of this theory are attributed to the upsurgeof immigrants in Europe and more so in Britain where the immigrantshad to learn English to enable them communicate in their newfoundenvironments. Their efforts were aided by the rich British culturewhich deliberately designed a curriculum to enable the new entrantacquire their second language. The important point to note is thatthis curriculum was context specific in the sense that learners wouldget to acquire the language while it is ‘at work.’ This basicallyimplies that the learners would acquire the language in a fashionthat encoded it to the long-term memory.

This theory proposes a learning mechanism for the second languageacquisition (SLA) in which the definitive framework is quitecomprehensive encompassing grammar as well as the psychologicalconstructs of linguistic which is much more clear in the SLA modelsuggested in Savington (1983). This model, after being subjected to arobust empirical testing, provided reliable findings to the effectthat learners who had adopted a learning process that embraced asystem of mental pattern inscriptions showed normal outcomes whensubjected to non-continuous tests of the structure of English grammarwhen metricized by fluency in their speaking of the language.

What has endeared most researchers to this theory of SLA is the factthat it incorporates other non-academic variables in explaining theefficacy of learning mechanisms. At the heart of this theory is thefact that the process of learning a second language is both anacademic and a socio-political process. Language learning at theadvanced levels (read universities), is considered as a concept thatis inextricably related with the policy frameworks that govern thepractice. To explain this proposition, viewed from a generalstandpoint, the learning process goes over and above the setobjectives and criteria for evaluating the process’ outcomes toencompass a diverse set of learning channels. The clearest premise ofthis theory is that it, the adoption of objectives and instrumentsthat suit the particular context of learning ought to be consistentwith and structured to the desires of the SLA learner which ideallyshould partake a social inclination.

Over time, the theory has acquired wide applicability due to itsperceived adaptability that makes it applicable in explaining situational problems on SLA around the world. This is so because thetheory calls for policy makers and curicullum designers of SLA to paymuch more attention to the social and cultural differences in thelanguage learning process. To this end, it espouses that theinnovation in language ,curricular is augmented by the advancement oflocal instruments (Markee, 1997).

2.1.3The Natural Approach

This theory was developed in the late 1970s by scholars Tracy Terrelland Stephen Krashen. The theory basically endeavors to advance a morenaturalistic technique of SLA in the learning institutions. Thistheory differs fundamentally from the other theories in this respectby laying much emphasis on the aspects of communication rather thanthe rigorous enquiry of grammar in SLA. The theory is seen by manyscholars as radical for the fact that it advocates for a lessstringent classroom environment in which the learner interacts withthe teacher in a free atmosphere. What’s more, in this approach,the acquisition of language in not particularly enforced, instead, itis conditioned to take root spontaneously when students are exposedto a rather wholesome input of English (Krashen &amp Terrell, 1983).The structure of the theory is as presented in the figure 1.0 below.This approach has been clearly depicted in the Monitor Frameworkdeveloped by Stephen Krashen, which has been widely used in teachingEnglish as a second language. The study has gained even wideracceptability and application following subsequent revisions by TracyTerrell, which acknowledged that some degree of deliberate and overly‘necessary’ grammar is necessary if the model is to be successfulin explaining the dynamics of SLA. The theory comes in handy or theendeavor of this paper by adding a dimension in the learning processby proposing that language learning is effective if the oftensubconscious aspect of language acquisition is boosted, which thetheory does foster.

Figure 1.0: The Natural Approach.

The theory is composed of five basic outlines as was outlined byTerrell. The five key propositions of the theory include:

Acquisition-learning proposition: which posits that consciouslearning and subconscious learning are different in fundamental wayssuch that fluency in language (read English) can only be attainedthrough deliberate acquisition.

The evaluation proposition: In this, the information on leanedlanguage can only be used to assess and evaluate output and not toproduce completely new information in the language to be acquired.

The input proposition: here, learners obtain language when they getexposed to a wholesome input of the language to be acquired through amore advanced level of the language than the learner can ordinarilyconceive.

The Natural Sequence Proposition: In this premise, the learnerscomprehend grammatical constructs of the language being learned in achronological order, which is independent of the teacher andgrammatical prescriptions.

The Mental Predisposition Proposition: In this proposition, it isadvanced that the learners of the second language must not be underany form of pressure during the learning process if they are toacquire the language more satisfactorily.

Essentially, the natural approach as a theory of learning andteaching English comes across as one that acknowledges the roleplayed by the subconscious mind during the learning process. Theapproach advocates for a more relaxed atmosphere, which serves tocondition both the conscious and subconscious mind to comprehend thelanguage in a wholesome way. Basically, the implications of thetheory to policy makers and curricular designers cannot be mistaken.It is a strongly veiled recommendation that the strategies adoptedfor SLA should condition the learners mind to comprehend the conceptsspontaneously rather than through enforcement mechanisms. The theoryadditionally advocates for a certain ‘threshold’ level of inputsof the fundamentals of grammar for the SLA students for the processto be fully successful.

2.1.4Relational Frame Theory (RFT)

This theory is more inclined towards the discipline of learningpsychology. Dermot Holmes and Steven Hayes to explain the processesof human language acquisition with respect to the constructs of thehuman mind originally developed it. The theory proposes that thetenets of language and advanced cognition are highly correlated. Inthis theory, human language is espoused as complex and verysophisticated since not only does it reveal the magnitude ofcorrelation between constructs but also manifests the kind ofcorrelation complete with the dimensions of the correlation. Thisframework advances that while there exists a specified number ofcorrelations and constructs in the realm of human language, the basicelement of this processes is a parsimonious unit which constituteswhat we, in common parlance, conceive as language or higher-stratumcognition.

This theory has been used reservedly in explaining the basicproblems observed in SLA. However so, researchers have particularlyinvestigated many empirically viable constructs and implications ofRFT. Most of this studies have dwelt on how elementary frames oflanguage can be combined to come up with tenets of language such ametaphors and bi-lingual comparisons. Moreover, researchers have goneover and above ascertaining the correlational aspects of L1 and L2 toestablish the degree to which the rigidity of language autonomyaffect certain constructs within certain elements of languageembodied in the discipline of psychopathology. The most interestingpremise of RFT that has been investigated over the years is that itsoverriding objective is to generate a binding theory embedded inpsychology, which can offer an anchorage for a host of fundamentalelements for more sophisticated levels of analysis into what greatlyails SLA.

The RFT framework is critical to the endeavor of this study sinceit has as its major preoccupation the problem of establishing howhuman beings learn language especially through their consistentinteractions with their environment, what most researchers have cometo conceive as functional contextualism. This concept(functional contextualism) pays more attention on thesignificance of forecasting and affecting mental processes such asthoughts and human action by concentrating on variables in thespecific environments and situations in which these mental processestake place. In functional contextualism, the framework seeks toadvance the concept of structural behaviorism to explain the rise ofsophisticated cognitive processes using a single precursorconditioning.

The Relational Frame Theory (RFT) sets itself apart from other workstheory that explain SLA by singling out and elaborating a specificform of operant conditioning referred to as relational responsederivative. RFT presents this concept as a pervasive impact onall aspects of human motivational action. In this manner, the theoryseeks to present a more reliable progressive explanation of theprocesses through which human beings acquire language while at thesame time preserving the traditional accounting channels of humancognitive processes. This is the most sophisticated of the fourtheories presented in this section of the paper. RFT espouses that itis extremely critical to understand the environment in which SLAtakes place if an appropriate learning strategy is to be devised.

2.2Empirical Literature

This section of the research paper reviews the actual findings ofrelated researches in this discipline to establish the mostpreferable technique of learning English by Saudi university studentsbased on the research findings in empirical works.

Al-Saidat (2009), while undertaking a case study of the Arab Englishlearners with special attention on the learning strategies on thephonological processes and phonotatics, found out that the greatestproblems facing the learning of English in the tertiary institutionsin the Arab countries were personality, age and the influence ofmother tongue. It was found out that particular English syllableswere hard for the Arab learners of English to comprehend. Moreover,the study observed that the teaching techniques employed in thehigher institutions of learning bred some pronunciation mistakes thatcould be forecasted for the learners with respect to some Englishwords. As a result, the study came up with an array of conclusionsregarding the learning strategies that ought to be employed by theArab learners of English in the tertiary institutions. The studyespoused that for the learning process to breed the desired outcomes,it is first important that curricular designers came up with a systemthat acquainted the students with patterns of English syllabus thatwere similar to those of the Arab languages. Next, the studyrecommended that at the elementary level, the learners ought to betaught beginning with the short syllables of English after which longEnglish syllables would follow suit. The other recommendation of thestudy was that the learning process adopted ought to draw contrastbetween the patterns of syllables of English and the native languagewith a particular attention to the fundamental differences. Moreover,it was pointed out in the study that it was crucial for the Englishteaching and learning strategies pointed out the specific patterns ofL2 so as to reduce the probability of the students making errors.

The study by Al- Saidat (2009) is particularly crucial to the currentstudy owing to its particular outcomes which have implications forwhat ought to be the best method of teaching and learning English bythe Saudi University students. The study observes that for studentsto comprehend the language, it is important for the method used inlearning the L2 to be highly adaptable since the learning processtakes place in stages. What’s more, at each and every stage, thelearners either go through a modification process, which necessitatesthem, subtract or add rules of even restructure the entire system.The activities that take place in the stages (either addition,deletion or restructuring) depend on the kind of errors committed bythe learners. The study went ahead to provide a convincing empiricalinvestigation, which showed that certain kind of mistakes, werecommitted by beginners while others by learners in more advancedstages. The clearest finding in the study was that which showed thatthe errors that were particularly committed by the beginners did notoccur in the set of the errors committed by those in more advancedlevels of learning English.

The study was reviewed in this section of the paper because itsimplications are important to the overriding objective of this study.The study has quite a variety of findings but the overarching outcomeis that whatever technique that should be adopted as the mostsuitable in learning English is that which will allow for more timefor the learners to comprehensively understand the concepts. Morecritically, this particular method should be very flexible toaccommodate the transition of the learner to more advanced stages.The paper also addressed very specific aspects of the language inwhich Arab learners of English have problems with (phonologicalprocesses and phonotatics) and is therefore particularly importantfor the design of a learning system that is context-specific and paysmore (piecemeal) attention to the areas of weaknesses.

In another phenomenal study, Makrami (2010), while studying thelearning strategies with specific attention on the motivation andattitude of Saudi university learners of English, ascertained thatthe learning outcomes in the language (L2) had a strong and positivecorrelation with the levels of motivation, attitude and anxiety ofthe students. Moreover, the techniques that were centered on attitudehad similar outcomes with those that were motivation- oriented. Inthe entire study carried out among the university students clusteredbased on various learning techniques, it came out that only oneobservation exhibited a negative correlation between the degrees ofanxiety and achievement (r= -0.147, p&lt0.05) (p. 70). It was alsoestablished that the tree variables of the study (anxiety, attitudeand motivation) did not show any significant difference within thesame sex group (males/ females). Instead, the findings depicted themales as having ended up with a significantly lower attitude relativeto the females. Females were therefore found to be more motivatedtowards the processes and endeavors of learning English.

The findings also showed that the lack of usage of the mother tonguein the learning institution of study gave the learners in thatparticular environment a significant advantage over their colleaguesin the environments where they were exposed to the usage of L1. TheArab teachers in the former institutions were also found to besupportive of the mechanisms since they only spoke and wrote inArabic when it became extremely necessary. The combined effect wasfound to significantly influence the English learning outcomesamongst the Saudi university students. The outcomes of this empiricalstudy are not unique they allude to those of Wubbels &amp den Brok(2002) which had as its major finding that the relationship betweenthe learner and the teacher in the learning strategy adopted in anyinstitution plays a vital role in determining the general outcome ofthe process. Essentially, the two studies have a common ground inthat they both advocated for a learning strategy that goes over andabove the normal classroom activities to deliberately condition andencourage a healthy relationship between the teacher and the learnersince they consider this as the vital ingredient that makes thedifference between good and exceptional learning outcomes.

Most empirical studies that sought to evaluate the English teachingand learning strategies of various institutions in Saudi haveadvocated for a learning strategy that integrates the positiveeffects of the teacher-oriented methods with those of the studentoriented techniques so as to come up with a more advanced approach tothe learning of the language in Saudi. Al- Badawi (2012), whileundertaking an analysis of phonetic, syntactic and morphologicalerrors committed by students learning English in King KhalidUniversity, found out that when an integrative approach was employed,certain technical errors committed by students were alleviated. Henoted that in the absence of such scenarios, English learners at theinstitution could not substitute certain consonant and vowelpronunciations equivalent to those of Arabic since they were not inthe Arabic phenotypic system and therefore had to rely on the usuallyless perfected knowledge in L2. This also showed that the studentsparticularly had difficulties in these basic skills due to theabsence of information of English morphemes. The study has attractedmuch attention of researchers for the simple reason that it does getmore detailed on the specific areas of student weaknesses that oughtto be corrected with the intervention of experts. It is noted thatstudents particularly exhibit weaknesses in the morphological,phonetic and syntactic aspects of the second language as in the ASLprograms. These aspects of language, especially if the learners donot grip their applicability in L1, are particularly problematic whentrying to comprehend the structure of L2 as also ascertained by Odlin(1989). However, some studies have questioned the soundness of theseoutcomes by contending that even if there was an intervention by aninstructor or a teacher for that matter, the constructs and structureof the mother tongue of the English learners will always be groundedin their heads even as they partake to add another language to it(Cook, 1992). This form of criticism aims to espouse that howevereffective a L2 teaching and learning strategy can be, if it treatsthe language to be acquired in isolation of the native language,problems are bound to arise in the process. The significance ofreviewing this literature to the endeavor of the current study cannotbe mistaken. First, the study advocates for the adoption of alearning strategy that integrates the aspects of the traditionalteacher-centered and the so-called modern student centered approachesin the learning of English by Saudi university students. Second, itoutlines the specific areas where the students might need theassistance of the instructors.

Better still, there are studies that advocate for the Englishlearning strategies, which are learner centered as opposed to that,which is selected, based purely on the areas that instructors havefound the students to have weaknesses in. Hong-Nam &amp Leavell(2006) is one study that stand tall amongst the studies in this areaof research. The findings of the study showed that the L2 learnersreported that they were more comfortable with certain kinds ofstrategies most of which showed a particularly high favoritismtowards the metacognitive techniques. These methods were found toassist the students in specific areas such as how to plan, organizeand direct their L2 strategies. In this kind of scenario, theinstructor of such students can encourage a more productive learningprocess by paying attention to the contents of L2 as well as thelearning process itself (p. 411).

However, the findings of Hong-Nam &amp Leavell (2006) are as mixedas they are comprehensive, the findings provide for the teachers’intervention into the learning process but up to a certain, advancedlevel beyond which the students are encouraged to undertake thelearning initiative themselves. At this advanced level, the studyfindings posit that further intervention of the teacher should beinformed by the magnitude of tasks that the learners will be able toaccomplish on their own without any assistance from the teachers. Thestrategy proposed here is a bit more different from what is offeredon other similar studies since it allows for the teacher’sintervention as the last resort especially at the more advancedlearning stages of the students and only after a problem by onestudent cannot be solved by yet another student from the samestratum. This kind of strategy is anchored on the premise that thestudents have much more work to do and by accomplishing tasksindependent of the teacher and in groups, then the whole processserves to build self-confidence amongst students, albeit implicitly.

Empirical literature has shown that most English learners in Saudiare not very enthusiastic about using specific strategies in theirlearning of English. Moreover, in the instances where students arefound to show a certain degree in the use of strategies, they areeither students at the high or low levels depending on the type ofstrategies that they tend to select. In this respect, it is observedthat students are stratified according to their levels of advancementas they apply the particular strategies that are of interest to them.Alhaisoni (2012), while investigating the language learningstrategies applied by EFL students in Saudi Arabia, particularlythose students in the intensive English Learning context of English,established that the students under survey were stratified betweenthe low and medium strata and that a particularly high number ofstudents showed preference for cognitive and more so metacognitiveoriented strategies which further confirmed the findings of Hong-Nam&amp Leavell (2006) and Shmais (2003). The outcomes of this studyshowed that in general, most Arab learners of English showed a veryhigh preference for the strategies that embody both cognitive andmetacognitive skills over and above all the other availablestrategies. Moreover, it was established that the least preferredstrategies were those, which were centered on affective and memorycapabilities. The study, especially after confirming and buildingupon the findings of other similar studies, has serious implicationsfor the design of EFL curricular in Saudi. The use of strategies thatpay more attention to strategies that enhance the development of bothcognitive and metacognitive abilities of the targeted learners.Additionally, since the study also went ahead to undertake astratified analysis of the preferences and found out that thesestrategies are most crucial to those in the lower stratum, it isimportant that the policy makers in this area of SLA introduce anduse the cognitive and metacognitive strategies at the very elementarylevels of the learners where there is a burning need of creating adeep understanding of what the language is supposed to be conceivedas.

The study by Alhaisoni (2012) was also exhaustive in the sense thatit covered the other areas, which are usually more subtly consideredby other studies focusing on the preferred strategy used by learners.The study had particularly interesting findings on the effect ofgender in determining the strategy to be used and on the impact ofanxiety on the efficacy of certain strategies. It was found out thatstudents found it hard to cope with the anxiety, which is usuallyassociated with the acquisition of a completely new language. Thestudy also revealed that the women covered in the survey additionallyused their social networks to supplement the efforts in class so asto enable them comprehend the language (L2). Similar to the findingsof Al- Badawi (2012), it was found out that increased cooperationbetween the student and the teacher led to better learning outcomesas the teachers would particularly source for journal materials toenable learners to advance their skills in English. Finally, on theissue of effect of gender on learning outcomes, study had findingsthat deviated from those of similar papers in this discipline. Thefemale students were found to be at par with their male counterpartsand did not exhibit any forms of exceptionality as widelyhypothesized.

In Javid et al (2012), while undertaking a study on the mosteffective English learning techniques, sought to critically analyzethe motivation towards English learning by Saudi universityundergraduates especially with regards to gender and the disciplinesin which the students had majored. The study findings espoused thatcontrary to the outcomes of similar inquiries, the Saudi universitystudents and particularly the undergraduates, had a much strongerself-driven motivation to learn and acquire English as a secondlanguage. Moreover, the study results showed that gender influencedthe motivation and by extension, towards the study of English,findings, which conflict those, presented by Alhaisoni (2012). Thesubjects in which the undergraduates had majored in while at theuniversity also significantly affected their various motivationstowards the acquisition of the second language. More specifically,the research findings ascertained that the students who had majoredin Medicine exhibited the greatest degrees of motivation towards thelearning of English.

Of as much interest to this section of the current study areempirical works that have adopted a technical approach to espouse themost effective English learning strategy that ought to be applied tothe ELS classes in the universities of Saudi and other institutionsof higher learning. One such study is Khan (2011) which undertook toestablish the ideal learning strategy by investigating thedifficulties that English learners in Saudi universities wereconfronted with by conducting a diagnosis in Saudi. The study foundout that of the issues affecting the strategies adopted to facilitatethe learning of English in Saudi universities, the issues thatrevolve around pedagogy are the most influential. The results showedthat the ‘teacher issues’ were also found to be very important inimpacting on the learning processes of the students in Saudiuniversities since the existing strategies and frameworks, teacherplays the critical role of the ‘instrument’ of change and as suchcan influence the level to which students can comprehend thelanguage.

The results further elaborated that in order to deal with thetroubling aspects encompassing pedagogy, the instructor should beadequately trained and hitherto approaching the students with suchdifficulties, the instructor ought to conduct an acute diagnosis toconceptualize the linguistic structure and kind of the difficultyfaced by the university students of Saudi. In doing this, the studyobserves, the instructor will be better positioned to come up witheffective and reliable English learning strategies that will greatlyreduce the degree of difficulty faced by the university students andtherefore produce the best possible learning outcomes.

The learning process is described as two-way in most psychologicalconceptions. By two-way, it is implied that however good a learningstrategy may be, if the perceptions of the targeted learners againstit is not favorable, then the outcomes of the strategy will beundesirable. In the context of English learning as a SLA program inSaudi universities, most studies have sought to come up with the bestalternative learning strategy by investigating the perceptions of thelearners and even those of the teachers towards the English learningprocess. In Javid et al (2012b), the researchers were interested indeveloping an all-inclusive learning strategy by studying theperceptions of the students in Saudi universities who had majored inEnglish as well as the teacher’s perceptions on the efficacy of ELTstrategies in second language acquisition programs. The studyoutcomes showed that perceptions of the students towards the learningprocess were not particularly encouraging and this served to accountfor the several grammatical errors and the students’ lack ofvocabulary while speaking or writing in English. In particular, itwas found out that on average, the ordinary Saudi university studentis only able to learn a total of about 100 words every year, which ismostly attributed to unfavorable perceptions towards the languagelearning process. The study was more detailed to the extent ofexamining the attributes of the learners. To this end, it was foundout that a majority of ELT university students were not motivated,they were lazy and only studied the language for the mere purpose ofpassing their tests and not for the intrinsic gains that come withthe learning of a new language. The paper also reported that thoseparticular learners who had exhibited a higher degree of motivationalso manifested a greater likelihood of learning and ultimatelyapplying the language in speaking and writing just it was alsoascertained by Gardner &amp Lambert (1972).

In a more recent study, Elsheikh et al (2014) which sought toestablish the connotations of what ought to be the ideal Englishlearning strategy applicable for the Saudi university students, thepaper laid out a proposed strategy that should be adopted so as toobtain the most desirable outcomes so far as the teaching andlearning of English in the country’s institutions is concerned. Thestudy proposed that: a good English learning strategy should ensurethat the instructors are able to condition a good rapport with thelearners, self-confidence is deeply ingrained amongst the students,the strategy should ensure a relaxed classroom atmosphere, create adesire to achieve among the learners and more importantly, over andabove equipping the learners with the language the ingrain thestrategy adopted should be able to ingrain the values, conventionsand norms of the native English speakers in the students so as toensure a wholesome transfer of the language. This is especially sosince language has been found to encompass more than just thelinguistic aspects but inculcates culture and the processes ofsocialization as critical determinants (Thorne, 2004). Elsheikh et al(2014) aggregates the initial findings of independent researches tocome up with a structure that ought to inform the design of whatshould be regarded as the most ideal strategy of teaching andlearning English in the universities of Saudi and other higherinstitutions of learning in the country. A strong teacher-studentrelationship and a relaxed classroom atmosphere feature prominentlyin the proposed structure. The implications here are basically thatthe learning process should be self-initiated and not enforcedamongst the learners.

In Savingnon (1998), which sought to investigate the dynamics ofcommunicative language teaching (CLT), which basically entails theclassroom situations and the learning processes themselves, it wasascertained that the social and cultural aspects as criticaldimensions of the linguistic competencies, goes over and above thestructures of linguistic to form an integrated platform of enquirywhich entail the societal constraints of language use. Further, itwas espoused that the sociolinguistic competence so developedrequired a deep understanding of the situation or rather the scenarioin which the language to be acquired is to be used in communication.The competency also requires one to comprehend the parties involved,the specific information that they exchange and the purpose of thatvery interaction. The study further observes that in order to come upwith a comprehensive English learning strategy especially in the gulfregion, there is need for the existing strategies to create morespace for the intervention of computer mediated learning processesand as much create room for other innovations of learning processesin general. More aptly, the study posited that the curricular frontedinnovations provided the novice teachers as well as their veterancounterparts with a host of options to facilitate the classroomlearning experience. More radically, the results pointed out thatsome specific types of games and tasks were also necessary asclassroom learning activities so as to promote the gains from theentire process. The increase in the use of internet for communicationand learning processes is also found to harbor a lot of potentialsfor the learning process. Through synchronous and asynchronouschannels which are both online mediums, learners are able to interactmore with their instructors and other students around the globe whileat the same time using these avenues to practice what they haveacquired in the SLA programs. Essentially, this comprehensive studyby Savingnon (1998) stresses the need to develop a flexible andhighly adaptable strategy that allows for the incorporation oftechnology in the learning process so as to increase the learningoutcomes in the ELT classes.

In trying to understand the problems faced by the teachers andlearners of English so as to design the most appropriate learningstrategy, some researchers have undertaken to review the problemsthat are faced by the teachers themselves in their role as the‘instruments’ of conveying the language to the learners. To thisend, most studies have found out that most of the learning strategiesapplied in the institutions of higher learning breed as much problemsto the teachers just as it breeds problems for the universitystudents’ English learners. Syed (2003), while assessing the illsof the language teaching and learning strategies of English,undertook to investigate the problems that the teachers of English toother non-English speaking students go through in their duties andended up with interesting outcomes. The results espoused that the EFLteacher training programs in Saudi Arabia were not systematic androbust enough to warrant those who had gone through the training tofacilitate a productive learning session for students. It wasobserved that the EFL teachers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had fora long time been trained in the education tertiary institutions thattrain all the other teachers and if not so, then they were from thefaculties of art that were affiliated with the Saudi universitiesoffering bachelor’s degrees in English. The problem with thisinstitutions as observed by the inquiry is that they basically offercourses on translation of English to Arabic and other languages andthe fact that one goes through this form of training does not makethem qualified to teach English as a subject in the English learninginstitutions of Saudi. Moreover, for those who were relativelyqualified as teachers of English and were in practice, they aretechnically handicapped by several challenges that cannot enable themto teach English effectively.

The teachers were found to be faced by problems of rote learningtechniques, lack of motivation and poorly developed leaningstrategies. All this problems were found to be emanating from thesituational framework of Language Education and rotes of SLA inSaudi. The paper basically notes that an appropriate learningstrategy should be learner oriented but must also take note of thechallenges that the language instructors go through in order todeliver.

Research in the area of English learning strategies in Saudiuniversities have also led researchers to investigate the exactcauses of the poor performance exhibited by some students even if allthe other inputs into the process are adequately provided for. Vann &ampAbraham (1990) sought to elucidate what makes a good learningstrategy by choosing to focus instead, on the kind of strategiesemployed by poor students who do not end up acquiring the language.The findings espoused that as much as there have been several similarstudies research in the discipline had not produced consistentfindings on the issue. Moreover, the problems manifested by the poorstudents in their learning strategies are found to be emanating fromlimited information on the strategies employed by the poor studentsand more so the discrepancy that exists between the strategies andwhat the students report that they actually undertake to comprehendthe language. Further, the study revealed that strategies thatpromote better outcomes are those that are largely adaptable andencourage continuous training of the instructors. It was noted thatin order to make strategies universally applicable, the studentsostensibly ought to be convinced of the importance of the strategyand they must be informed on how to assess the applicability of sucha strategy just as was also concluded by Brown et al (1983). Thestudy make a convincing case for what it finds as the best Englishlearning strategy by providing for prescriptions of the same in afashion that no other study had done before. The paper observesrather candidly that the best English learning strategy for the Saudiuniversity students is that which provides more detailed informationabout where, when, how and where the so developed strategies shouldbe applied. The overarching implication of the paper by Vann &ampAbraham (1990) is that strategies of language learning should becontext specified if they are to provide the best possible learningoutcomes.

The efficacy of language learning strategies have also been testedbased on the communication ability of the learners. This criterion isbased on the fact that the overriding objective of learning Englishin Saudi Arabia and other places where it is taught as a secondlanguage is to equip the learners with the necessary communicationtools to enable them communicate. In Ghaleb et al (2002), it wasascertained the Arab English learners frequently apply communicationstrategies to deal with the problems they are faced with anytime theytry to speak in English. However, it came out that this learnersattempt to cope with this problems by invoking strategies while theythemselves lack required competence in English to enable them achievethis. In such a scenario, it was found out that when such studentsare faced with such problems, they basically try to avoid specificcrucial domains of grammar. The study espoused that one way in whichthe students avoid the very domains of grammar is through theapplication of the English morphology or rather use the Arabiclexical items. This observation, as noted by the study, is usuallyobserved even in the native language (read Arabic).

In summary, the literature review section of this paper has revieweda variety of works done in the discipline of the current study basedon the differences in their findings. It has come out clearly thatmost researchers have advocated for a learning strategy that isguided by the preferences of the learner. Such researchers are alsofound to propose strategies that are integrative of the ‘traditional’teacher centered approach and the ‘modern’ student –orientedtechniques so as to come up with the best English learning strategy.Moreover, there is a general consensus that the strategy that is mosteffective is that which provides a free interactive atmospherebetween the learners and the teachers. The level of advancement inthe study of English by the university students in Saudi and theiruniversity majors are found to be crucial for the development of apiecemeal learning strategy but the literature reviewed in this paperis however divided on the effect of gender on the English learningoutcomes. Another important aspect revealed here is that mostproblems in the learning of English in Saudi universities encompasspedagogy, grammar, syntactic and morphological elements of thelanguage.

2.3Research Hypotheses

Based on the literature review provided in the preceding section,this study adopts the following research hypotheses to be tested inthe subsequent section. The hypotheses identified are categorizedinto the main hypothesis and the subordinate hypotheses as below.

  1. Main Hypothesis:

Learner oriented strategies are the best English learning strategiesin Saudi universities.

  1. Subordinate hypotheses.

  1. Ho: Gender determines the efficacy of English learning strategies in Saudi universities.

H1: Gender does not determine the efficacy of English learningstrategies in Saudi universities.

  1. Ho: The level of advancement in the study of English in Saudi universities determines the efficacy of learning strategies.

H1: The level of advancement in the study of English in Saudiuniversities does not determine the efficacy of learning strategies.

  1. Ho: The subject of major in Saudi universities determines the efficacy of learning strategies.

H1: The subject of major in Saudi universities does not determine theefficacy of learning strategies.

  1. Ho: Most learners have problems in English grammar.

Ho: Most learners do not have problems in English grammar.

3.0 Methodology

This section provides the description of the data that was used inthis paper and outlines the techniques that were utilized in thecollection and analysis of the data including samples of theinstruments used to collect data. Additionally, this section alsopresents the research design and the ethical considerations inresearch as they arose during the gathering of data.

3.1 Research Design

This paper adopts the use of qualitative methods in order to explorethe preferred vocabulary learning strategy by students in Saudisecondary schools. Based on the objectives outlined in the firstsection of this paper, qualitative techniques will be critical to theendeavor of this paper. Qualitative techniques like the applicationof attitude scales including the Likert scale and ordinal scales willbe important in obtaining the measures of mental effects of onlineshoppers. Qualitative techniques also come in handy since usingscales and through assigning of human attributes to some framework,it is possible to obtain cardinal values. The use of qualitativetechniques in an overly subjective and abstract research like thisone is also backed by the finding by most psychological researchersover time that human values and attributes can be measuredobjectively (Robson, 2007). For this reasons, the various qualitativeapproaches will be applied in this study so as to come up with robustempirical findings. Moreover, this paper seeks to capitalize on thecombined advantages of the various qualitative techniques whilereducing as much as possible the negative effects of such methods.

This paper used a comprehensive research approach, which incorporatesa variety of qualitative analyses such that the research problem asidentified in the first section of this paper is addressed fully. Theapproach adopted here was instrumental as it enabled the use ofqualitative techniques just as espoused by Klenke (2008) tofacilitate the prediction of the variations in the response variableof the study, techniques which are typical for such tasks (Muijs,2010).

3.2 Research Strategy

The research strategy that was used by this research paper wasanchored on the pooled benefits of using various qualitativetechniques. The research strategy majorly relied on these techniquessince they have been found to facilitate a high level of detachmentof the researcher from the processes and the outcomes of the paper(Bryman, 2006). This is very necessary since the outcomes of aresearch process should be based on empirical facts and not the sheerinstincts of the researcher. This technique was as much critical inproviding for the logical structure of the entire process, whichfacilitates the flow of work. This is so even as the technique lacksgrossly in validity and enhances the use of logic at the expense ofcertain crucial processes (Robson, 2007). The survey process that wasused in this technique was equally tedious and time consuming. Thevital role played by this technique in the study cannot beunderestimated. The research strategy allocated it the crucial taskof ascertaining the most effective vocabulary learning strategy.

3.3 Data and Data Collection Instruments

This study utilized both secondary and primary time series data. Forsome variables, panel data was obtained and incorporated togetherwith the pooled time series data. The data obtained relate to theperiod between December 2014 and May 2015 in which 20 respondents(Students at Taibah University) were interviewed. Time series andpanel data was suitable for this study since it is critical toobserve how the growth in concerns in the learning strategies haveevolved over time vis-à-vis real magnitudes. The data, which is 95%primary data was collected using in a field survey conducted byexperts who were assisted by local students in the study area. As forthe secondary data, content analysis which was done by qualifiedresearchers was used to obtain data from secondary sources andsubsequently perform a cross-tabulation of the aggregated results.This method of scrutinizing and analyzing secondary data was usedsince it is a robust method in circumstances that involve analysis offigures and interpretation of tabulated outcomes (Hsieh &ampShannon, 2005). Moreover, this secondary sources review technique hasalways been found to provide an in depth analysis and refinement ofalready existing data (Klenke, 2008).

In the survey that was conducted, the collection of primary data wascollected using structured questionnaires, which consisted of bothopen-ended and closed questions. The questionnaires designed for thisstudy were divided into two sections A and B. Section A requiredpersonal details of the respondent including age, place of residence,gender, level of education, state of activity and marital status.Section B of the questionnaire consisted of both general and specificquestions regarding the perceptions of the respondents on variouslearning strategies and their shortcomings. The questionnaire used inthis study was designed in an attractive manner with questionsordered depending on the increasing degree of complexity so as toentice respondents to respond to all questions as appropriate. Thechoice of a questionnaire as the major tool for collecting primarydata in this study was informed by several advantages. First, theadministration of questionnaires by researchers on the field enabledrespondents to seek clarification on questions that were notimmediately clear to them. Second, since the questionnaires advocatedfor anonymity, respondents (who were learners in the TaibahUniversityt) were much more likely to volunteer information withoutfear of any form of victimization. Purposeful sampling was used toidentify potential respondents of this questionnaire as guided by theresearch objective in the first section of this paper.

3.4 Data Analysis

In this section, the study employed factor analysis to manipulatethe data with the identified controls to test the hypothesesgenerated from the literature review. The primary data collected fromthe field using questionnaires was fed into computer software inspecific formats with coding mechanisms for attributes andsubsequently analyzed using SPSS Software. This process also enabledthe identification of the variables of study as they manifest fromthe analysis of the obtained data. It is important to note that in asmuch as this is an empirical procedure it is guided by thetheoretical background of the study, which singles out theanticipated variables of the model. The results of this manipulationsof data is usually meant to produce some descriptive statisticsregarding the data which include the mean, standard deviation,goodness of fit, the t-statistic and other statistical measures ofdispersion and relationships.

4.0Results and Discussion of Findings.

The responses obtained from the filled and returned questionnaireswere coded and analyzed as described in the preceding section of thisresearch paper. It became necessary to perform descriptive analysesso as to verify the respondents’ feelings on the roots ofstrategies that they felt were not delivering as well as aggregatetheir recommendations on the feasible ways in which the Englishvocabulary learning strategies can be made more effective in Saudiuniversities. The very initial questions were deliberately structuredto elicit the opinions of the respondents regarding their competencein English and the results obtained (Teacher: 3.285 &amp ELTstudent 2.256) showed that ELT students never comprehended thelanguage and attained the required competency after having formallycompleting their studies at the universities.

Most respondents seemed to agree that learner-oriented strategieswere the best methods in teaching and learning of English in theSaudi universities. The results further revealed that those whosuggested that learner centered techniques are the best methodssimilarly suggested that strategies that allow for a freer learningatmospheres in classrooms were the most effective in the learningprocess. Out of the 20 respondents, 18 composing 90% of the totalresponse felt that the level of advancement in the year of studynecessitated the application of different strategies to differentstages of learning owing to the discrepancy between the knowledgeacquired. When asked to provide reasons for their responses, thosewho advocated for different strategies for different levels suggestedvarious reasons that can be read as that those university students inSaudi at the very elementary level needed a lot of monitoring andtherefore an increased role for the teacher to play in the learningprocess. The more advanced learners were found to require littleassistance because the learning process at this level requiredteacher assistance that is customized to the needs of the students.The results from the response analysis are presented in table 1.0below.

Table 1.0: Results of the analysis.

Serial

Statement

Respondent

Average

Standard Deviation

t-value

p-value

1.

Competency in English vocabulary is acquired at graduation.

3.258

1.256

1.478

0.785

2.

Mostly study vocabulary for exam purposes.

2.589

1.478

0.145

0.015

3.

Teacher assistance is very necessary.

1.457

0.879

2.489

0.124

4.

Level of advancement affects strategy.

3.597

1.114

0.498

0.889

5.

University majors influence English grades.

1.452

0.369

1.259

0.789

6.

Entry criteria is too lenient.

5.482

0.987

3.25

0.256

7.

Poor outcomes are due to inefficient administration.

2.145

1.789

1.993

0.045

Teacher

1,259

0.789

0.988

0.002

8.

Female students are more active in English classes and perform much better.

3.127

0.963

1.993

0.003

Teacher

2.892

0.896

1.564

0.124

9.

Freer classroom atmospheres are more productive.

2.897

1.147

2.145

0.025

Teacher

2.154

0.987

0.781

0.012

10.

Most difficulties in English revolve around pedagogy.

3.418

1.128

0.579

0.369

11.

ELT learners are hardworking.

2.117

0.897

0.236

0.479

The table above summarizes the fronted reasons behind the poorperformance of the current strategies used in the learning of Englishamongst university students in Saudi. The highest value assigned bythe respondents (ELT student 3.63) which corresponded to the questionregarding the learners’ language being overly poor and critical atthe time that they enrolled at the university has clear implications.It confirms the findings of the literature reviewed earlier in thispaper, which espoused that the ordinary Saudi university studentslearned an average of about 100 words every single year. Moreover,the outcome is consistent with the findings of Al-Seghayer (2011)which concluded that regarding the rate of absorption of thelearners, the learners themselves were fully aware of the fact thatthey themselves did little to enhance their acquisition of English.The data analyzed using SPSS software reveal that a high number ofthe respondents (who are university students in Saudi) are notdetermined to learn English, lack motivation and have no initiativeto undertake personal studies to improve their competency in English.

The survey findings offer so many insights into what ought to beconceived as the best English learning strategy. The findingsindicate that a majority of students only study so as to pass examsand have no intrinsic motivation to learn the language passionately.Instead, what is observed is that the ‘learning’ of English inmost universities in Saudi is viewed as a means to an end and not asa concept complete in and of itself. This explains why most learnersdo not have the language available to use immediately they are donewith their final exams since they lack the motivation that enhancesthe retention of language far beyond academic concerns. Further, thestudy undertook a further analysis using the t-test to ascertain ifthere existed any fundamental

Differences between the responses as obtained from thequestionnaires. The outcomes of further interrogation of thequestionnaire are presented in table 1.2 below. From the resultsdisplayed in the table, the differences were not significant enoughto alter the results revealed and more so the policy implications ofthe outcomes of the survey. The general findings seem to suggest thatthe students at elementary levels of ELT classes in the universitiesof Saudi feel they may not be able to cope with the first round ofgrammar classes without translations into Arabic. Only a fewstudents, 15% feel that the translation sessions are a waste of timesince they are not important after all.

Serial

Statement

Respondent

Average

Standard Deviation

t-value

p-value

12.

More language classes should be introduced

2.258

1.546

1.459

0.585

13.

Classes need to be more interactive

6.589

1.478

0.146

0.005

14.

Translation courses are crucial

2.457

0.874

2.258

0.124

15.

There is need for more class assessments

5.597

1.114

0.498

0.899

16.

Computer use for language classes.

2.152

0.362

1.159

0.789

17.

There is need for revision classes

4.688

0.987

3.25

0.256

18.

Number of subjects per semester should be increased.

2.115

1.789

1.153

0.045

19.

There is need for more stringent admission bottlenecks.

2.236

0.964

1.993

0.003

To this regard, it was necessary to undertake further inquiry tounderstand the exact predisposition of the students as they enrollfor ELT classes at the Saudi universities. The inquiry espoused thatthe students at the higher levels of learning reported that thenumber of English vocabulary classes should be decreased while only afew of their counterparts in the lower levels responded to thequestion. A majority of the students at the lower levels seem to bethirsty for English classes. What’s more, the students wanttutorial classes, revision of materials and translations of assignedtasks. They are overly concerned about assistance with theirassignments and the exam preparation processes. These findings areconsistent with the findings of most other researches, which hadconclusions to the effect that ELT students in Saudi universities aremuch more concerned with the learning of English so that they onlyare able to pass their exams. The recommendations proposed by thesestudents are as much radical. They seem to suggest that a largeportion of the underlying reasons why they perform poorly isattributed to the ‘system’. By ‘system’ it is implied theteachers and more aptly the strategies within which the learning ofEnglish takes place in the campuses. The respondents (mostly teacherrespondents) suggested that the institutions of higher learningshould follow strict procedures in the recruitment of ELT students.The criteria should ensure that those who eventually make it into theinstitutions have a certain basic degree of grounding in grammar.

5.0Conclusions and Recommendations.

This study sought to scrutinize the available vocabulary learningstrategies of Taibah University ELT students with an overridingobjective of determining which amongst them is the mostappropriate.To achieve this, the paper undertook a vast and detailedliterature review, which revealed that there are quite a variety ofteaching and learning strategies being applied in Saudi universities,which all have certain advantages and demerits. The literature reviewfurther revealed that the most common strategies in the campusesembodied the teacher-centered and the learner-centered strategies.Moreover, it was revealed that the level of advancement in ELTclasses of the students, motivation, gender, endemic grounding inEnglish and influence of mother tongue are some of the greatestvariables that determine the extent to which any given strategy willbe successful in achieving its objectives. It was also establishedthat a majority of Arab learners of English are faced withgrammatical (read vocabulary) difficulties in the areas ofnoun-pronoun interchange most problems in the learning of English inSaudi universities encompass pedagogy, grammar, use of Englishmorphemes, syntactic and morphological elements of the language.

The study applied largely quantitative techniques to investigate theessentials of what ought to be the best English learning strategiesapplicable in Saudi universities. The results showed that there was ahigh preference for the English learning strategies that weretailored to suit the preferences of the learners. The strategiesalluded to here were also visualized to provide the much sought freerlearning atmosphere with a healthy, mutual relationship between thelearner and the teacher. In this way, the learner is able to interactfreely with the teacher therefore enabling the teacher to assess thestudent’s areas of weakness. Additionally, it came out very clearlyin the outcomes that the level of advancement of the learners in therespective ELT classes ought to necessitate the use of differentlearning strategies. This is attributed to the fact that the needs ofthe learners at the elementary level are very different from those oftheir counterparts at more advanced levels of the ELT classes. Theimplications of this findings cannot be mistaken, there is a need todevelop an all-integrative strategy that takes into account the levelof advancement in ELT classes and allows for the assessment ofinter-stratum as well as the intra-stratum evaluation. With this, itwill be possible for stakeholders to monitor the progress of thestudents as they transit to more advanced levels to ensure theyacquire the necessary skills at the preceding stages before beingadvanced to the next level. Equally important is the response thatthere is need to institute more stringent measures to ensure that thestudents enrolled for the ELT classes in Saudi universities attain apredetermined threshold of grounding in grammar. This will enable thelearners to cope with the strategy applied in the campuses in a moreuniversal manner. The findings of the study with regards to genderdummy was not so clear despite having used rigorous mechanisms whichcontradicts previous researches. This implies that the best strategyfor learning English at the universities need not to take the gendervariable so seriously. Not necessarily. It would however be importantfor the best strategy to deal with the technical areas of grammarencompassing areas of student weaknesses such as pedagogy, grammar,use of English morphemes, syntactic and morphological elements of thelanguage.

In line with the aim of this paper, and drawing from the outcomes ofthe empirical analysis, the best English learning strategy is thelearner-oriented technique. Moreover, this technique has to take intoaccount the level of advancement of the learners, their initialgrounding in grammar, and the technicalities that trouble Arabspeakers of English and maybe to some extent gender considerations.Otherwise, the SLA in Saudi universities so far as English isconcerned will always be illusionary.

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Saudi University Students Learning English A Case Study of Taibah University

SAUDI UNIVERSITY STUDENTS LEARNING ENGLISH 1

Saudi University Students LearningEnglish: A Case Study of Taibah University

Institution Affiliation

CONTENTS

Saudi University Students Learning English 3

Abstract 3

1.0 Introduction 4

1.1 Problem Definition and Scope 4

1.2 Research Background 9

1.3 Problem Statement 14

1.4 Scope of the study 15

1.5 Research Questions 16

1.6 Research Objectives 16

1.6.1 Specific Objectives 16

1.6.2 Statement of Ultimate Objective 17

2.0 Literature Review 17

2.1 Theoretical Review 17

2.1.1 Sociocultural Theory (SCT) of Second Language Acquisition. 17

2.1.2 The Linguistic Theory 19

2.1.3 The Natural Approach 21

2.1.4 Relational Frame Theory (RFT) 23

2.2 Empirical Literature 25

2.3 Research Hypotheses 39

3.0 Methodology 41

3.1 Research Design 41

3.2 Research Strategy 42

3.3 Data and Data Collection Instruments 42

3.4 Data Analysis 44

4.0 Results and Discussion of Findings. 45

5.0 Conclusions and recommendations. 50

6.0 References 52

SaudiUniversity Students Learning English Abstract

This study sought to scrutinize the preferred English vocabularylearning strategies of Saudi university students in the context ofTaibah University with an overriding objective of determining whichamongst them is the most appropriate. To achieve this, the paperundertook a vast and detailed literature review, which revealed thatthere are quite a variety of vocabulary teaching and learningstrategies being applied in Saudi universities, which all havecertain advantages and demerits. The study employed a mixed methodsanalysis mainly consisting of quantitative techniques in theanalytical framework and obtained particularly interesting results.The paper notes that the best English learning strategy is thelearner-oriented technique. Moreover, this technique has to take intoaccount the level of advancement of the learners, their initialgrounding in grammar, and the technicalities that trouble Arabspeakers of English and maybe to some extent gender considerations.Otherwise, the SLA in Saudi universities as far as English isconcerned will always be illusionary.

Key words: English, Strategy, Techniques, Grammar.

1.0Introduction1.1Problem Definition and Scope

English has widely been defined as a West German language of thecountry England. As a language, English has managed to establishitself as the most acceptable language of communication in the world.More aptly, English has become the ‘Lingua Franca’ of theglobe (Crystal, 1997) and a particularly vital means of communicationin Saudi Arabia (Khan, 2011). With the increased globalization andtechnological spread, English has not only gained currency as animportant language of communication but has become a very criticalinstrument of formal communication today. Figure 1.0 shows theproportions of English speakers by region. One outstanding reason whyEnglish needs to be considered as the language of the world is thatthe world’s knowledge is ostensibly preserved in it.

The language has also gained immense currency the world over becauseit is considered fashionable and there is a general tendency for mostpeople around the world to voluntarily adopt its usage. Mainly due tothis reason, it has emerged as the most preferred language even incertain regions of the world where the native languages ought to beprioritized above it. When it comes to certain countries and regionswhere the language serves a minimal purpose, like in Saudi Arabia, ithas however become difficult especially when it has to be taught as aforeign language. It has been noted with much concern that theteaching and learning of English in Saudi Arabia has not always easy.This is an issue that has attracted much attention of researchers andthis is especially so since the issue has been found to cut acrossother disciplines over and above academics.

The teaching of the language in most universities and tertiaryinstitutions in Saudi Arabia does well to solidify the roots of thelanguage and ground the students with the fundamental tenets of thelanguage that will be used to administer other ostensibly advancedcourses to the students. Such courses may encompass an array ofdisciplines such as health, education, sociology, history andhistory. This endeavor is even more convenient since in Saudi, alarge number of students have been travelling to foreign, mostlyEnglish-speaking countries either for education or even on tourismand employment. This necessitates that Saudi University students takeup English lessons in an effort to enhance their flexibility in theglobalized world. In Saudi Arabia, however, the language is taught intertiary institutions but it does not enjoy a preferred role andposition in the country’s curriculum as it does in other developingeconomies. Despite the several efforts put in place by policy makers,which include a well-structured curriculum to carter for the teachingof English, provision of textbooks, competent staff and effectivemonitoring and evaluation, there is quite a lot that needs to be doneso as to improve the passing on of the intended skills to thelearners who are on the receiving end. It has been noted that thelearning institutions in Saudi are well equipped to teach English andshould therefore be able to produce the desired outcomes. Moreover,most lecturers of the language are motivated and are said to receiveperks even much better than those of their counterparts in developedworld (Shuttleworth Foundation, 2008). It is this failure that hasnecessitated a host of researches to be conducted in this particulartopic so as to establish the exact cause of the failure by examiningthe entire process of students learning English in Saudi Arabia. Mostscholars have espoused the belief that the undesirable outcomes inthe teaching and learning of English is attributebale to the initialendemic approach of learning the language right from the elementarylevels. For this reason, there has been an overwhelming concesus forthe advocates of using hybrid techniques to teach english as aforeign language in Saudi.

There are quite a numbe of atrocities that face students in the Gulfregion and by extension, Saudi Arabia while trying to learn Englishas a foreign language. Since the natives of the country speak theirlocal language and largely apply it in virtually every transaction,the niche, it at all it may exist, ofity learning English, is jus butvery meagre. ,Moreover, it has been noted in most studies that amajority of university and college students are usually immature intheir writing when doing so in English as aptly noted by Abdul Haq(1982). This observations were confirmed by several other studies.For instance, while studying the learning of foreign lanuages inJordan, Zughoul (1984) noted that most students who were in the EFLtutorials had poor communication skills and are highly likely tocommit serious gramatical and substantial errors while writing ofspeaking in English. More specifically, there are studies that havegone an inch further in this discipline and quite a majority haveidentified the particular areas in the language that the studentshave weaknesse. The students in EFL classes are mostly troubled whenit comes to the usage of tenses, use of nouns and pronouns and otherbasic tenets of the language (Kambal, 1980). Despite the vastliterature with regards to the learning of English in SaudiArabia,pedagogues and linguists have yet a different perspectiveregarding the subject. Most of this experts posit that the mosteffective method of teaching English is through translating it intothe nartive language of the region of concern. Others advocate forthe teaching of the klanguage at the elementary level just lik thenative language is taught: right from the earliest age possible. Bothsides of the debate are versed with a host of empirical evidence toback their arguments but whichever way, what comes out rather clearlyis that outcome oriented technique ought to take center stage.

In the teaching of English in Saudi, the teachers of the languagehave chosen to adopt various approaches such as situational deliverytechniques, communicative approach, and the oral-oriented techniques.Most teachers in Saudi have been found to adopt the situationaltechnique while still others are stuck with the ‘traditional’technique of translating English grammar to native languages. Butthere are situational reservations to this endeavor, especiallyconsidering that the language is exotic to most countries, SaudiArabia included. The roots of the language in the country is trcedback to the twentieth century where oil doscovery in the countryattracted many multinationals and this immediately necessitated thelearning and teaching of English in Saudi.

This study comes at a time when several studies have been done toassess the strategies employed in the learning of foreign languages,there are not so many that have endeavored to assess the use oflearning English in the Saudi Arabia EFL context (Al Otaibi, 2004).Due to the fact that not much has been done on the case of Saudi,this study seeks to dig into the learning of English as a secondlanguage by the Saudi university students. It has been noted withmuch concern however, that over and above the efforts being made bythe government to improve the learning of English in Saudi, there isa gross lack of motivation among the undergaraduate students. Thesignificance of motivation in the learning process cannot beunderestimated. It serves to provide the much needed enthusism anddrive for the students as they seek to equip themselves with thelanguage i.e. EFL/ ESL. Motivation comes in handy as a criticalingredient for students learning English since the process involvessome form of an overhaul, an alteration of perceptions and theintegration of new social and cultural means (Williams,1994).Motivation has also been espoused as the very fundamental of thelearning process without which no learning process can takeplace(Schmitt, 1992).

The claim that lack of primal motivation in the undergraduateuniversity students in Saudi Arabia has been the main reason why somemeasures were taken so as to supplement the curriculum in thecountry. More specifically, the introduction of the English LanguageCentres (ELCs) and the Preparatory Year Programs (PYP) in thecountry’s tertiary institutions has been largely attributed to thelack of motivation from the learners. This measures, taken together,have played a major role in stimulating the much desired prospectiveshift to a learner-oriented pedagogy as compared to the initialteracher-centered techniques. This efforts seem to have played acritical role in breeding an initiative among the learners of thelanguage in Saudi even as there exists a scarcity in the researchconcerning the motivational drives of the students (EFL) in thecountry especially with regards to the students gender and theirdisciplines of specialization. This techniques have gained wideacceptability especially due to the fact that for success inanything, and English learning by extension, the impact of selfimageis the operating element. Effort in academcs and motivation toachieve have been found to characterise all successful strategiesused in teacghing and learning English in universities. This kind ofmotivation has been described as an abstract and highly subjectiveconstruct that have intrinsic sources (Dornyei, 2001).

For the past many years, the existing studies that have beenunderyaken in the discipline of learning and teaching second language(L2), where English falls in the context of Saudi Arabia, the modesof delivery have greatly shifted from the teacher-oriented tolearner-oriented techniques. Owing to this reatively new phenomenon,there are questions sorrounding the mechanisms through which thetargeted learners digest new information and more so the form oftechniques they engage so as to absorb, ingest and encode theinformation that they gain.This shift in techniques has become theprimary preoccupation of researchers studying the larning of English by the university students in Saudi (Cohen, 1998). In severalresearches embodying this discipline, the fundamental concern hasbeen establish the positive thing that learners espouse as what theyundertake to learn, or rather, what they are actually observed to beengaging in so as to learn the foreign language (Weden &amp Rubin,1998). There is yet to be a single study that espouses the variousEnglish teaching and learning strategies adopted in the universitiesand tertiary institutions in Saudi Arabia. This project seeks tocomprehend the strategies that have been explored in the pastregarding English learning among Saudi University students, with theaim of determining the most effective one amongst the varioustechniques employed.

1.2Research Background

The literature relating to learning English in Saudi in general hasgrown immensely over the years but it is important to note thatstudies on the current discipline are not as much. The basic problemthat has been observed is tht students from the gulf region in whichSaudi is located encounter difficulties in speakind as well aswriting English. This is estabvlished following the studies of manyresearchers including Abdul Haq (1982) and (Williams,1994). Theteachers of English have further been puzzled by an array of severalpsycho-linguistic hypotheses touching on this areas.A theory that hasalways been espoused here is that of teaching English as a secondlanguage to the native states’ language (arabic) throughtranslations of grammar. This technique has its roots in Germany andcentral Europe and fundamentally involves a grammar translationstructure which was later adopted by the rest of the bilingualregions. The second technique that has been ascertained bytheoritical literature in this field is the direct method said tohave emerged towards the end of the nineteenth century but which hasalso received a lot of criticism. The advocates of this techniqueshave put forth various cases as to the suitability andineffectiveness of each technique. However, it is not lost in manythat effective teaching and learning of English in Saudi Arabia is anissue of great consern which many researchers have conceptualiseddifferently over time (Kembler, 2001).Some research works like thatof Westwood (1966) have difined it widely as whichever methods thatlead to learning and ultimately understanding. Behavioralopsychologists and other scholars have also defined the problem intheir very own perceptions and conceptualizations of the learningprocess.

Research on the teaching and learning of English in the gulf regionhas provided deep insights into the reasons why the teaching ofEnglish in the region has not yielded desired outcomes despite themassive resources invested towards achieving the preset goals(Zughoul, 1986). It has been noted that despite allocating a sizeable6% of their GDP on ELT, the countries in the gulf region (includingSaudi Arabia) are yet to reap the proceeds of this outrageousspending (Abed, 2003). Further research in this areas has shown thatSaudi English students, just like other Arab learners, are not ableto achieve the required competency in the native language even afterbeing in the classes for a long period of time. Moreover, it has beenreported that the proficiency of Saudi students’ language is muchmore wanting than their counterparts in the rest of the globe(Tushyeh, 1988). There has been quite a number of reserchers who haveinvestigated thereasons behind this worsening situation, in most ofthem, it has been reported that there is lack of a firmadministration in the universities and tertiary institutions in Saudithat has seen the enrollment of students who do not meet the setthresholds to the ELT classes (Kaur, 2003).

The specific weaknesses that Saudi university studentsof English face has been espoused in the many papers that have been done in thisparticular field. In fact, due to the magnitude of this probem, inthe year 1983, the University of Jordan organised an internationalconference to address the problem of learning English by Arablearners more so in the gulf region. A study by Mukattash (1983)observed that the Arab learners commit grave mistakes in theirwriting and part of the larger problem in ELT has been greatlyattributed to the exessive emphasis on literature majors in the Saudiuniversities and other major institutions of learning. It has beenascertained that ELT students majorly have problems in grammar,syntax and semantics (AbiSamra, 2003). The figure 1.2 below shows thepercentages of mistakes as commited by the learners of English inSaudi.

Adopted from AbiSamra (2003).

After critically investigating the ETL curricula in majoruniversities in Saudi, Zughoul (1983) posited that the teaching andlearning of English in Saudi Unibversities, other than beingallocated more time in the departmental schudules, it does structurethe curricular of post-primary schools. Futher, the study observedthat the specific departments did not undertake proper teaching ofthe language and that this is anchored on the premise that thestudents who are enrolled into the respective ELT classes are alreadycompetent in English. Reading, listening, speaking and writing inEnglish have been identified as the four tenets of English all ofwhich Saudi university students score very low (Suleiman, 1983). Thiscoould be the reason why Saudi students who register forinternational competency tests usually score very low on a relativescale as noted by Rababah (2001). For quite a long time now, theteaching and learning of English in the Saudi universities and otherinstitutions has been largely characterised by the ‘traditional’teacher-oriented vertical methodswhich leaves little space for thestudents to make a serious initiative towards owning their study ofEnglish.

One other issue that has had the attention of researchers so far asthe strategies for teaching and learning of English in Saudiuniversities are concerned embodies the attributes of the teacherswho are entrusted with this responsibility. Some studies done in thepast have recommended that the teachers who should be entrusted withteaching the language in Saudi learning institutions should be thenative speakers of the language or essentially L1. However, thispropoition has been refuted for the reason that being a nativespeaker of the language is never a guarantee that an individual iscompetent enough to teach in the Saudi tertiary institutions. Mostpundits posited that the unreliable methods being employed by thetertiary institutions and some questionable criteria used to evaluatethe competencies of potential English tachers in the institutions(Alosaimi, 2007). Past research has raised an issue of contentionthat there are candidates who may be particularly flawless I theirspeaking of the language but are not necessarily competent in theirdelivery skills which matter the mostto ESL learners. Moreover,research has shown that the English teaching fraternity in Saudi andother countries in the gulf region often assumes that a host ofproblems encountered by students in the ELS classes embody the degreeto which the students tend to commit linguistic mistakes mostlyattributed to the interference of their L1, what has come to bereferred to as the L1 transmission of the bi-lingual effects (Dulayet al, 1982). In fact, researchers trying to establish the bestEnglish teaching technique in Saudi ELS and LLS classes have come tonote that the best technique of teaching the language in Saudi is onewhich tries as much as possible to strike a correlation between thestructural composition of English and the native’s language. Thisis so because it has been ascertained that the elements of Englishthat are similar to the native language will always be easier for thestudents to comprehend relative to those elements which are differentfrom the native language Lado (1957). Past studies have ascertainedthat the channels of multi-lingual distortions are the very instancesthat diverge from the conventions of language owing to the speakersdegree of familiarity with other languages other than their L1(Nair,1966: Khan, 1997). In yet other crucial surveys on the suitability ofEnglish teaching methods on Saudi, it has been established that basedof the observation that every single English student from thenonnative speaking regions spoke with an accent created an extentthat portrayed lack of some intelligence which conditioned them tolaugh at each other (Bista, 2010).

Research has sought to espouse the areas where an effevctivetechnique of teaching English in Arab countries ought to lay moreeffort. There are quite a variety of errors that have been observedespecially concernig the phrasal verbs, sequence of tenses,substitution of tenses and the areas on the agreement of subjects andverbs. Issues on the second and first person singular were also foundto be critically troubling the English learners in Saudi in general(Kambal, 1980). Al-Hazmi &amp Scholfield (2007) further observedthat bmost teaching and learning techniques in Saudi were teachercentred to the extent that this basic fundamental problems affectingEnglish speakers were overlooked at the expense of hiringArab-speaking teachers to teach the language. The Arab-speakingteachers, they observed, were ostensibly better positioned to teachEnglish for the simple reason that they are able to convey theconcepts that are not easy to conceive to their students using thecommon ground: L1. In more specific case studies of this scenario, ithas been noted that the teachers usually instruct the students toaccomplish their assignments either in their classrooms or carry homethe tasks. Further, the English teaching practice in most Saudiuniversities it is left to the discretion of the students to revisetheir work. The findings here confirm most observations that Englishteachers and instructors usually rely on the individual initiativesof the students to learn the language. This proposition has drawn alarge criticism especially since the very motivation of Arab studentsto learn English is in itself suspect. However, to some degree, thetechnique has been found to be particularly effective since ityencourages the students to own the learning process and thereafterresults in the best learning outcomes.

1.3Problem Statement

This paper sought to critically investigate the techniques ofteaching and learning English in Saudi Arabia universities with anoverriding aim to assess which amongst them is the best anchored oneffectiveness of each method and the most preferred learning strategyby English learners. In this endeavor, it was important to firstidentify the techniques that have been used to teach English andcontinue to be used even today. In order to achieve the aim of thestudy, this was followed suit with a rigorous analysis of the methodsto scrutinize them for weaknesses and more so strength. The problemof learning English in Saudi has attracted research attention due tothe conflicting reasons that have been provided by variousresearchers who have endeavored to study this problem.

There are so many variables that influence the teaching and learningoutcomes in Saudi universities. The students encounter problems inthe ELS classes since they do not begin the learning of English at anearly age. It has also been found that the particular surrounding inwhich students live also affects their learning outcomes of thelanguage. Unique to the case of Saudi is the fact that most parentsare even reluctant to enroll their children to ELS classes due to anarray of factors, which include low income or lack of interest.Moreover, it has been found that a majority of the students do notachieve the required competency in speaking and writing of Englisheven after completing the formal training process since thetechniques applied in teaching English are either teacher-centered orotherwise student-centered but without the required threshold supportfrom the respective teachers.

Any teaching and learning strategies therefore, must address each ofthe factors listed above. The technique ought to promote the muchsought self-drive in the students for them to own the learningprocess as well as encourage the teachers to augment their basicdelivery skills to students. The technique should also be one thathas been tested for effectiveness over time and has been found to bereliable. The teaching and learning of English in Saudi universitiesis characterized by a variety of problems. The problems that inhibitthe learning process in the campuses are multi-fold, they range fromthe teacher to student attributes and as encompass the very technicalaspects like the specific tenets of English that trouble thestudents. The best learning strategies ought to address all thisconcerns and should be result-oriented.

1.4Scope of the study

The study will only be limited to the learning of English in theuniversities in Saudi and not the country at large of the entire gulfregion as has been the case with most studies in this discipline. Thepaper will be concerned with the teaching and learning techniques asapplied in the ELS classes in the Saudi universities. It will beconstrained by the number of universities in Saudi as well as theproportion of English learning students in these institutions. Thestudy will not be overly concerned with the specific reason forlearning the language but will employ the use of students in Saudicampuses as the subject of analysis.

1.5Research Questions

The major research question that this paper seeks to answers is“Which, amongst the available techniques of teaching English is thebest?’’. The following subordinate research questions will asmuch serve to guide the course of this study.

  1. What is the most prevalent LLSP (Language Learning Style Preference) in Saudi Arabia university students that are studying English major?

  2. Which are the most prevalent strategies for vocabulary learning that the Saudi students use in comprehension?

  3. Is there a link between the use of vocabulary learning strategies and the performance of the students in writing?

  4. What teaching strategies are most effective in meeting this need for vocabulary learning?

1.6Research Objectives1.6.1Specific Objectives

By the end of this research study, and in the context of TaibahUniversity, the study should be able:

  1. To explore the learning strategies that have been employed in Saudi Arabian universities.

  2. To espouse the feelings of the students regarding the application of the strategies in (I) above.

  3. To investigate the vocabulary learning strategies that students use in comprehension.

  4. To investigate the various strategies that teachers apply to impart vocabulary knowledge in Saudi students.

  5. To connect the strategies that are used with the learning style preference of the students.

  6. To comprehend the effectiveness of the said strategies in enhancing learning among students.

1.6.2Statement of Ultimate Objective

The study seeks to ascertain the best vocabulary learning strategyamongst the existing techniques in the Taibah University, merge theidentified strategy with the outcomes in learner preference, and usethis to generate crucial insights to the learning of English by Saudiuniversity students. This will have curriculum developmentimplications for the English departments in the institutions.

2.0LITERATURE REVIEW

This section critically reviews the vast body of literature availableon the learning strategies of English in Saudi universities with aview to espouse the niche identified by the study as well ascritically analyze the findings of various researchers on theefficiency of various learning strategies that have been applicableby the Saudi university students learning English. The literaturereview is divided into two sections, the theoretical literaturereview and the empirical literature review.

2.1Theoretical Review

This part reviews the theory of learning strategies in general. Thesection tries to ascertain the prescriptions of the various theoriesthat have been espoused to explain the best techniques of teachingand learning English in general and by extension, Saudi Arabia.

2.1.1Sociocultural Theory (SCT) of Second Language Acquisition.

This theory of learning a second language is attributed to L.SVygotsky a Russian psychologist. The theory posits that the languagelearning process as manifested in the human brain is basically apre-mediated process structured by cultural facets, activities andprocesses. In this kind of structure, human beings are conceived asutilizing the already existing cultural facets in a bid to createcompletely new organizations, which will ultimately enable them tocondition their physiological and behavioral actions and processes.More practically, the learning processes in general and by extension,L2, occurs through the participation in socio-cultural settings suchas the clan and family interactions and at more advanced levels,through institutional frameworks like in the universities. The theorysuggests that while the neurobiology of humans is the critical factorthat conditions advanced reasoning in the learning process, the verycrucial factors in the human cognitive dimensions are bred throughthe social and cultural contexts. These cognitive dimensions of thelearning process are usually the most important tenets in the secondlanguage acquisition (SLA) which embodies English in Saudi.

The sociocultural theory, in its functional constructs, proposes auniversal premise of the functioning of the human brain. In this, itis suggested that to comprehend a new language necessitated acompletely new and relatively different way of thinking. To advanceits arguments, the theory suggests that the human mental structurecomprises a lower stratum called the lower stratum-neurological basebut the elucidating aspect of mental sobriety and cognition is itsvery capability to condition biological changes through thehigher-stratum instruments that include language and numericalcapabilities. These higher-stratum instruments are the convenientbarriers between the human and the environment and therefore act as afilter between the individual and other external concepts.

The sociocultural theory further uses the above phenomenon to explainthe role of learning a second language through acquisition. It positsthat imitation as a learning strategy plays a vital role in the SLA.Researchers interrogating this argument have found more evidence tosupport it by observing that contrary to popular conceptions,imitation is a sophisticated process, which engages the neurologicalprocesses. It is particularly observed that it is always difficult toemulate what we, in, common parlance, conceive as an intentionalundertaking (Nelson, 1989: Tomasello, 2003). What many scholars havefound as striking in the theory is the proposition by the theory thatimitation, which is a key tenet of this theory, is a phenomenon thatis conditioned and does not necessarily have to take place on theheels of a pattern having been created in the human mindset. Ifanything, imitation is found to occur after an elapse of timepreferably a day following the formation of the pattern in the humanbrain (Meltzorff, 2002).

The SCT is particularly relevant and critical to this study since inas much as it is widely applicable in research endeavors, it is asmuch usable in advancing the learning process of SLA (Thorne,2004).Essentially, this theory makes a convincing case for theincorporation of sociocultural interventions in the learningmechanisms adopted by the language learners and more specifically,those who seek SLA.

2.1.2The Linguistic Theory

This theory of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) is also widelyreferred to as communicative competence or cognitive languagecompetence in most literature concerning the acquisition of secondlanguage and is mostly traced back to the beginning of the 1970s. Bycompetence, the theory implies, the abilities to interpret, negotiateand aptly express one’s self using an acquired language. As opposedto the sociocultural theory, this theory incorporates both social andcultural perspectives (just like the sociocultural theory) as well asthe psychological constructs of linguistics I the realm of SLA. Thetheory basically proposes that the best language teaching andlearning strategy ought to conform to the communicative desires ofthe ELS students, a proposition supported by the conclusions of (Van,1975).

To further, comprehend this theory with respect to the primarypreoccupation of this paper, it is important to review briefly, howit came to be. The roots of this theory are attributed to the upsurgeof immigrants in Europe and more so in Britain where the immigrantshad to learn English to enable them communicate in their newfoundenvironments. Their efforts were aided by the rich British culturewhich deliberately designed a curriculum to enable the new entrantacquire their second language. The important point to note is thatthis curriculum was context specific in the sense that learners wouldget to acquire the language while it is ‘at work.’ This basicallyimplies that the learners would acquire the language in a fashionthat encoded it to the long-term memory.

This theory proposes a learning mechanism for the second languageacquisition (SLA) in which the definitive framework is quitecomprehensive encompassing grammar as well as the psychologicalconstructs of linguistic which is much more clear in the SLA modelsuggested in Savington (1983). This model, after being subjected to arobust empirical testing, provided reliable findings to the effectthat learners who had adopted a learning process that embraced asystem of mental pattern inscriptions showed normal outcomes whensubjected to non-continuous tests of the structure of English grammarwhen metricized by fluency in their speaking of the language.

What has endeared most researchers to this theory of SLA is the factthat it incorporates other non-academic variables in explaining theefficacy of learning mechanisms. At the heart of this theory is thefact that the process of learning a second language is both anacademic and a socio-political process. Language learning at theadvanced levels (read universities), is considered as a concept thatis inextricably related with the policy frameworks that govern thepractice. To explain this proposition, viewed from a generalstandpoint, the learning process goes over and above the setobjectives and criteria for evaluating the process’ outcomes toencompass a diverse set of learning channels. The clearest premise ofthis theory is that it, the adoption of objectives and instrumentsthat suit the particular context of learning ought to be consistentwith and structured to the desires of the SLA learner which ideallyshould partake a social inclination.

Over time, the theory has acquired wide applicability due to itsperceived adaptability that makes it applicable in explaining situational problems on SLA around the world. This is so because thetheory calls for policy makers and curicullum designers of SLA to paymuch more attention to the social and cultural differences in thelanguage learning process. To this end, it espouses that theinnovation in language ,curricular is augmented by the advancement oflocal instruments (Markee, 1997).

2.1.3The Natural Approach

This theory was developed in the late 1970s by scholars Tracy Terrelland Stephen Krashen. The theory basically endeavors to advance a morenaturalistic technique of SLA in the learning institutions. Thistheory differs fundamentally from the other theories in this respectby laying much emphasis on the aspects of communication rather thanthe rigorous enquiry of grammar in SLA. The theory is seen by manyscholars as radical for the fact that it advocates for a lessstringent classroom environment in which the learner interacts withthe teacher in a free atmosphere. What’s more, in this approach,the acquisition of language in not particularly enforced, instead, itis conditioned to take root spontaneously when students are exposedto a rather wholesome input of English (Krashen &amp Terrell, 1983).The structure of the theory is as presented in the figure 1.0 below.This approach has been clearly depicted in the Monitor Frameworkdeveloped by Stephen Krashen, which has been widely used in teachingEnglish as a second language. The study has gained even wideracceptability and application following subsequent revisions by TracyTerrell, which acknowledged that some degree of deliberate and overly‘necessary’ grammar is necessary if the model is to be successfulin explaining the dynamics of SLA. The theory comes in handy or theendeavor of this paper by adding a dimension in the learning processby proposing that language learning is effective if the oftensubconscious aspect of language acquisition is boosted, which thetheory does foster.

Figure 1.0: The Natural Approach.

The theory is composed of five basic outlines as was outlined byTerrell. The five key propositions of the theory include:

Acquisition-learning proposition: which posits that consciouslearning and subconscious learning are different in fundamental wayssuch that fluency in language (read English) can only be attainedthrough deliberate acquisition.

The evaluation proposition: In this, the information on leanedlanguage can only be used to assess and evaluate output and not toproduce completely new information in the language to be acquired.

The input proposition: here, learners obtain language when they getexposed to a wholesome input of the language to be acquired through amore advanced level of the language than the learner can ordinarilyconceive.

The Natural Sequence Proposition: In this premise, the learnerscomprehend grammatical constructs of the language being learned in achronological order, which is independent of the teacher andgrammatical prescriptions.

The Mental Predisposition Proposition: In this proposition, it isadvanced that the learners of the second language must not be underany form of pressure during the learning process if they are toacquire the language more satisfactorily.

Essentially, the natural approach as a theory of learning andteaching English comes across as one that acknowledges the roleplayed by the subconscious mind during the learning process. Theapproach advocates for a more relaxed atmosphere, which serves tocondition both the conscious and subconscious mind to comprehend thelanguage in a wholesome way. Basically, the implications of thetheory to policy makers and curricular designers cannot be mistaken.It is a strongly veiled recommendation that the strategies adoptedfor SLA should condition the learners mind to comprehend the conceptsspontaneously rather than through enforcement mechanisms. The theoryadditionally advocates for a certain ‘threshold’ level of inputsof the fundamentals of grammar for the SLA students for the processto be fully successful.

2.1.4Relational Frame Theory (RFT)

This theory is more inclined towards the discipline of learningpsychology. Dermot Holmes and Steven Hayes to explain the processesof human language acquisition with respect to the constructs of thehuman mind originally developed it. The theory proposes that thetenets of language and advanced cognition are highly correlated. Inthis theory, human language is espoused as complex and verysophisticated since not only does it reveal the magnitude ofcorrelation between constructs but also manifests the kind ofcorrelation complete with the dimensions of the correlation. Thisframework advances that while there exists a specified number ofcorrelations and constructs in the realm of human language, the basicelement of this processes is a parsimonious unit which constituteswhat we, in common parlance, conceive as language or higher-stratumcognition.

This theory has been used reservedly in explaining the basicproblems observed in SLA. However so, researchers have particularlyinvestigated many empirically viable constructs and implications ofRFT. Most of this studies have dwelt on how elementary frames oflanguage can be combined to come up with tenets of language such ametaphors and bi-lingual comparisons. Moreover, researchers have goneover and above ascertaining the correlational aspects of L1 and L2 toestablish the degree to which the rigidity of language autonomyaffect certain constructs within certain elements of languageembodied in the discipline of psychopathology. The most interestingpremise of RFT that has been investigated over the years is that itsoverriding objective is to generate a binding theory embedded inpsychology, which can offer an anchorage for a host of fundamentalelements for more sophisticated levels of analysis into what greatlyails SLA.

The RFT framework is critical to the endeavor of this study sinceit has as its major preoccupation the problem of establishing howhuman beings learn language especially through their consistentinteractions with their environment, what most researchers have cometo conceive as functional contextualism. This concept(functional contextualism) pays more attention on thesignificance of forecasting and affecting mental processes such asthoughts and human action by concentrating on variables in thespecific environments and situations in which these mental processestake place. In functional contextualism, the framework seeks toadvance the concept of structural behaviorism to explain the rise ofsophisticated cognitive processes using a single precursorconditioning.

The Relational Frame Theory (RFT) sets itself apart from other workstheory that explain SLA by singling out and elaborating a specificform of operant conditioning referred to as relational responsederivative. RFT presents this concept as a pervasive impact onall aspects of human motivational action. In this manner, the theoryseeks to present a more reliable progressive explanation of theprocesses through which human beings acquire language while at thesame time preserving the traditional accounting channels of humancognitive processes. This is the most sophisticated of the fourtheories presented in this section of the paper. RFT espouses that itis extremely critical to understand the environment in which SLAtakes place if an appropriate learning strategy is to be devised.

2.2Empirical Literature

This section of the research paper reviews the actual findings ofrelated researches in this discipline to establish the mostpreferable technique of learning English by Saudi university studentsbased on the research findings in empirical works.

Al-Saidat (2009), while undertaking a case study of the Arab Englishlearners with special attention on the learning strategies on thephonological processes and phonotatics, found out that the greatestproblems facing the learning of English in the tertiary institutionsin the Arab countries were personality, age and the influence ofmother tongue. It was found out that particular English syllableswere hard for the Arab learners of English to comprehend. Moreover,the study observed that the teaching techniques employed in thehigher institutions of learning bred some pronunciation mistakes thatcould be forecasted for the learners with respect to some Englishwords. As a result, the study came up with an array of conclusionsregarding the learning strategies that ought to be employed by theArab learners of English in the tertiary institutions. The studyespoused that for the learning process to breed the desired outcomes,it is first important that curricular designers came up with a systemthat acquainted the students with patterns of English syllabus thatwere similar to those of the Arab languages. Next, the studyrecommended that at the elementary level, the learners ought to betaught beginning with the short syllables of English after which longEnglish syllables would follow suit. The other recommendation of thestudy was that the learning process adopted ought to draw contrastbetween the patterns of syllables of English and the native languagewith a particular attention to the fundamental differences. Moreover,it was pointed out in the study that it was crucial for the Englishteaching and learning strategies pointed out the specific patterns ofL2 so as to reduce the probability of the students making errors.

The study by Al- Saidat (2009) is particularly crucial to the currentstudy owing to its particular outcomes which have implications forwhat ought to be the best method of teaching and learning English bythe Saudi University students. The study observes that for studentsto comprehend the language, it is important for the method used inlearning the L2 to be highly adaptable since the learning processtakes place in stages. What’s more, at each and every stage, thelearners either go through a modification process, which necessitatesthem, subtract or add rules of even restructure the entire system.The activities that take place in the stages (either addition,deletion or restructuring) depend on the kind of errors committed bythe learners. The study went ahead to provide a convincing empiricalinvestigation, which showed that certain kind of mistakes, werecommitted by beginners while others by learners in more advancedstages. The clearest finding in the study was that which showed thatthe errors that were particularly committed by the beginners did notoccur in the set of the errors committed by those in more advancedlevels of learning English.

The study was reviewed in this section of the paper because itsimplications are important to the overriding objective of this study.The study has quite a variety of findings but the overarching outcomeis that whatever technique that should be adopted as the mostsuitable in learning English is that which will allow for more timefor the learners to comprehensively understand the concepts. Morecritically, this particular method should be very flexible toaccommodate the transition of the learner to more advanced stages.The paper also addressed very specific aspects of the language inwhich Arab learners of English have problems with (phonologicalprocesses and phonotatics) and is therefore particularly importantfor the design of a learning system that is context-specific and paysmore (piecemeal) attention to the areas of weaknesses.

In another phenomenal study, Makrami (2010), while studying thelearning strategies with specific attention on the motivation andattitude of Saudi university learners of English, ascertained thatthe learning outcomes in the language (L2) had a strong and positivecorrelation with the levels of motivation, attitude and anxiety ofthe students. Moreover, the techniques that were centered on attitudehad similar outcomes with those that were motivation- oriented. Inthe entire study carried out among the university students clusteredbased on various learning techniques, it came out that only oneobservation exhibited a negative correlation between the degrees ofanxiety and achievement (r= -0.147, p&lt0.05) (p. 70). It was alsoestablished that the tree variables of the study (anxiety, attitudeand motivation) did not show any significant difference within thesame sex group (males/ females). Instead, the findings depicted themales as having ended up with a significantly lower attitude relativeto the females. Females were therefore found to be more motivatedtowards the processes and endeavors of learning English.

The findings also showed that the lack of usage of the mother tonguein the learning institution of study gave the learners in thatparticular environment a significant advantage over their colleaguesin the environments where they were exposed to the usage of L1. TheArab teachers in the former institutions were also found to besupportive of the mechanisms since they only spoke and wrote inArabic when it became extremely necessary. The combined effect wasfound to significantly influence the English learning outcomesamongst the Saudi university students. The outcomes of this empiricalstudy are not unique they allude to those of Wubbels &amp den Brok(2002) which had as its major finding that the relationship betweenthe learner and the teacher in the learning strategy adopted in anyinstitution plays a vital role in determining the general outcome ofthe process. Essentially, the two studies have a common ground inthat they both advocated for a learning strategy that goes over andabove the normal classroom activities to deliberately condition andencourage a healthy relationship between the teacher and the learnersince they consider this as the vital ingredient that makes thedifference between good and exceptional learning outcomes.

Most empirical studies that sought to evaluate the English teachingand learning strategies of various institutions in Saudi haveadvocated for a learning strategy that integrates the positiveeffects of the teacher-oriented methods with those of the studentoriented techniques so as to come up with a more advanced approach tothe learning of the language in Saudi. Al- Badawi (2012), whileundertaking an analysis of phonetic, syntactic and morphologicalerrors committed by students learning English in King KhalidUniversity, found out that when an integrative approach was employed,certain technical errors committed by students were alleviated. Henoted that in the absence of such scenarios, English learners at theinstitution could not substitute certain consonant and vowelpronunciations equivalent to those of Arabic since they were not inthe Arabic phenotypic system and therefore had to rely on the usuallyless perfected knowledge in L2. This also showed that the studentsparticularly had difficulties in these basic skills due to theabsence of information of English morphemes. The study has attractedmuch attention of researchers for the simple reason that it does getmore detailed on the specific areas of student weaknesses that oughtto be corrected with the intervention of experts. It is noted thatstudents particularly exhibit weaknesses in the morphological,phonetic and syntactic aspects of the second language as in the ASLprograms. These aspects of language, especially if the learners donot grip their applicability in L1, are particularly problematic whentrying to comprehend the structure of L2 as also ascertained by Odlin(1989). However, some studies have questioned the soundness of theseoutcomes by contending that even if there was an intervention by aninstructor or a teacher for that matter, the constructs and structureof the mother tongue of the English learners will always be groundedin their heads even as they partake to add another language to it(Cook, 1992). This form of criticism aims to espouse that howevereffective a L2 teaching and learning strategy can be, if it treatsthe language to be acquired in isolation of the native language,problems are bound to arise in the process. The significance ofreviewing this literature to the endeavor of the current study cannotbe mistaken. First, the study advocates for the adoption of alearning strategy that integrates the aspects of the traditionalteacher-centered and the so-called modern student centered approachesin the learning of English by Saudi university students. Second, itoutlines the specific areas where the students might need theassistance of the instructors.

Better still, there are studies that advocate for the Englishlearning strategies, which are learner centered as opposed to that,which is selected, based purely on the areas that instructors havefound the students to have weaknesses in. Hong-Nam &amp Leavell(2006) is one study that stand tall amongst the studies in this areaof research. The findings of the study showed that the L2 learnersreported that they were more comfortable with certain kinds ofstrategies most of which showed a particularly high favoritismtowards the metacognitive techniques. These methods were found toassist the students in specific areas such as how to plan, organizeand direct their L2 strategies. In this kind of scenario, theinstructor of such students can encourage a more productive learningprocess by paying attention to the contents of L2 as well as thelearning process itself (p. 411).

However, the findings of Hong-Nam &amp Leavell (2006) are as mixedas they are comprehensive, the findings provide for the teachers’intervention into the learning process but up to a certain, advancedlevel beyond which the students are encouraged to undertake thelearning initiative themselves. At this advanced level, the studyfindings posit that further intervention of the teacher should beinformed by the magnitude of tasks that the learners will be able toaccomplish on their own without any assistance from the teachers. Thestrategy proposed here is a bit more different from what is offeredon other similar studies since it allows for the teacher’sintervention as the last resort especially at the more advancedlearning stages of the students and only after a problem by onestudent cannot be solved by yet another student from the samestratum. This kind of strategy is anchored on the premise that thestudents have much more work to do and by accomplishing tasksindependent of the teacher and in groups, then the whole processserves to build self-confidence amongst students, albeit implicitly.

Empirical literature has shown that most English learners in Saudiare not very enthusiastic about using specific strategies in theirlearning of English. Moreover, in the instances where students arefound to show a certain degree in the use of strategies, they areeither students at the high or low levels depending on the type ofstrategies that they tend to select. In this respect, it is observedthat students are stratified according to their levels of advancementas they apply the particular strategies that are of interest to them.Alhaisoni (2012), while investigating the language learningstrategies applied by EFL students in Saudi Arabia, particularlythose students in the intensive English Learning context of English,established that the students under survey were stratified betweenthe low and medium strata and that a particularly high number ofstudents showed preference for cognitive and more so metacognitiveoriented strategies which further confirmed the findings of Hong-Nam&amp Leavell (2006) and Shmais (2003). The outcomes of this studyshowed that in general, most Arab learners of English showed a veryhigh preference for the strategies that embody both cognitive andmetacognitive skills over and above all the other availablestrategies. Moreover, it was established that the least preferredstrategies were those, which were centered on affective and memorycapabilities. The study, especially after confirming and buildingupon the findings of other similar studies, has serious implicationsfor the design of EFL curricular in Saudi. The use of strategies thatpay more attention to strategies that enhance the development of bothcognitive and metacognitive abilities of the targeted learners.Additionally, since the study also went ahead to undertake astratified analysis of the preferences and found out that thesestrategies are most crucial to those in the lower stratum, it isimportant that the policy makers in this area of SLA introduce anduse the cognitive and metacognitive strategies at the very elementarylevels of the learners where there is a burning need of creating adeep understanding of what the language is supposed to be conceivedas.

The study by Alhaisoni (2012) was also exhaustive in the sense thatit covered the other areas, which are usually more subtly consideredby other studies focusing on the preferred strategy used by learners.The study had particularly interesting findings on the effect ofgender in determining the strategy to be used and on the impact ofanxiety on the efficacy of certain strategies. It was found out thatstudents found it hard to cope with the anxiety, which is usuallyassociated with the acquisition of a completely new language. Thestudy also revealed that the women covered in the survey additionallyused their social networks to supplement the efforts in class so asto enable them comprehend the language (L2). Similar to the findingsof Al- Badawi (2012), it was found out that increased cooperationbetween the student and the teacher led to better learning outcomesas the teachers would particularly source for journal materials toenable learners to advance their skills in English. Finally, on theissue of effect of gender on learning outcomes, study had findingsthat deviated from those of similar papers in this discipline. Thefemale students were found to be at par with their male counterpartsand did not exhibit any forms of exceptionality as widelyhypothesized.

In Javid et al (2012), while undertaking a study on the mosteffective English learning techniques, sought to critically analyzethe motivation towards English learning by Saudi universityundergraduates especially with regards to gender and the disciplinesin which the students had majored. The study findings espoused thatcontrary to the outcomes of similar inquiries, the Saudi universitystudents and particularly the undergraduates, had a much strongerself-driven motivation to learn and acquire English as a secondlanguage. Moreover, the study results showed that gender influencedthe motivation and by extension, towards the study of English,findings, which conflict those, presented by Alhaisoni (2012). Thesubjects in which the undergraduates had majored in while at theuniversity also significantly affected their various motivationstowards the acquisition of the second language. More specifically,the research findings ascertained that the students who had majoredin Medicine exhibited the greatest degrees of motivation towards thelearning of English.

Of as much interest to this section of the current study areempirical works that have adopted a technical approach to espouse themost effective English learning strategy that ought to be applied tothe ELS classes in the universities of Saudi and other institutionsof higher learning. One such study is Khan (2011) which undertook toestablish the ideal learning strategy by investigating thedifficulties that English learners in Saudi universities wereconfronted with by conducting a diagnosis in Saudi. The study foundout that of the issues affecting the strategies adopted to facilitatethe learning of English in Saudi universities, the issues thatrevolve around pedagogy are the most influential. The results showedthat the ‘teacher issues’ were also found to be very important inimpacting on the learning processes of the students in Saudiuniversities since the existing strategies and frameworks, teacherplays the critical role of the ‘instrument’ of change and as suchcan influence the level to which students can comprehend thelanguage.

The results further elaborated that in order to deal with thetroubling aspects encompassing pedagogy, the instructor should beadequately trained and hitherto approaching the students with suchdifficulties, the instructor ought to conduct an acute diagnosis toconceptualize the linguistic structure and kind of the difficultyfaced by the university students of Saudi. In doing this, the studyobserves, the instructor will be better positioned to come up witheffective and reliable English learning strategies that will greatlyreduce the degree of difficulty faced by the university students andtherefore produce the best possible learning outcomes.

The learning process is described as two-way in most psychologicalconceptions. By two-way, it is implied that however good a learningstrategy may be, if the perceptions of the targeted learners againstit is not favorable, then the outcomes of the strategy will beundesirable. In the context of English learning as a SLA program inSaudi universities, most studies have sought to come up with the bestalternative learning strategy by investigating the perceptions of thelearners and even those of the teachers towards the English learningprocess. In Javid et al (2012b), the researchers were interested indeveloping an all-inclusive learning strategy by studying theperceptions of the students in Saudi universities who had majored inEnglish as well as the teacher’s perceptions on the efficacy of ELTstrategies in second language acquisition programs. The studyoutcomes showed that perceptions of the students towards the learningprocess were not particularly encouraging and this served to accountfor the several grammatical errors and the students’ lack ofvocabulary while speaking or writing in English. In particular, itwas found out that on average, the ordinary Saudi university studentis only able to learn a total of about 100 words every year, which ismostly attributed to unfavorable perceptions towards the languagelearning process. The study was more detailed to the extent ofexamining the attributes of the learners. To this end, it was foundout that a majority of ELT university students were not motivated,they were lazy and only studied the language for the mere purpose ofpassing their tests and not for the intrinsic gains that come withthe learning of a new language. The paper also reported that thoseparticular learners who had exhibited a higher degree of motivationalso manifested a greater likelihood of learning and ultimatelyapplying the language in speaking and writing just it was alsoascertained by Gardner &amp Lambert (1972).

In a more recent study, Elsheikh et al (2014) which sought toestablish the connotations of what ought to be the ideal Englishlearning strategy applicable for the Saudi university students, thepaper laid out a proposed strategy that should be adopted so as toobtain the most desirable outcomes so far as the teaching andlearning of English in the country’s institutions is concerned. Thestudy proposed that: a good English learning strategy should ensurethat the instructors are able to condition a good rapport with thelearners, self-confidence is deeply ingrained amongst the students,the strategy should ensure a relaxed classroom atmosphere, create adesire to achieve among the learners and more importantly, over andabove equipping the learners with the language the ingrain thestrategy adopted should be able to ingrain the values, conventionsand norms of the native English speakers in the students so as toensure a wholesome transfer of the language. This is especially sosince language has been found to encompass more than just thelinguistic aspects but inculcates culture and the processes ofsocialization as critical determinants (Thorne, 2004). Elsheikh et al(2014) aggregates the initial findings of independent researches tocome up with a structure that ought to inform the design of whatshould be regarded as the most ideal strategy of teaching andlearning English in the universities of Saudi and other higherinstitutions of learning in the country. A strong teacher-studentrelationship and a relaxed classroom atmosphere feature prominentlyin the proposed structure. The implications here are basically thatthe learning process should be self-initiated and not enforcedamongst the learners.

In Savingnon (1998), which sought to investigate the dynamics ofcommunicative language teaching (CLT), which basically entails theclassroom situations and the learning processes themselves, it wasascertained that the social and cultural aspects as criticaldimensions of the linguistic competencies, goes over and above thestructures of linguistic to form an integrated platform of enquirywhich entail the societal constraints of language use. Further, itwas espoused that the sociolinguistic competence so developedrequired a deep understanding of the situation or rather the scenarioin which the language to be acquired is to be used in communication.The competency also requires one to comprehend the parties involved,the specific information that they exchange and the purpose of thatvery interaction. The study further observes that in order to come upwith a comprehensive English learning strategy especially in the gulfregion, there is need for the existing strategies to create morespace for the intervention of computer mediated learning processesand as much create room for other innovations of learning processesin general. More aptly, the study posited that the curricular frontedinnovations provided the novice teachers as well as their veterancounterparts with a host of options to facilitate the classroomlearning experience. More radically, the results pointed out thatsome specific types of games and tasks were also necessary asclassroom learning activities so as to promote the gains from theentire process. The increase in the use of internet for communicationand learning processes is also found to harbor a lot of potentialsfor the learning process. Through synchronous and asynchronouschannels which are both online mediums, learners are able to interactmore with their instructors and other students around the globe whileat the same time using these avenues to practice what they haveacquired in the SLA programs. Essentially, this comprehensive studyby Savingnon (1998) stresses the need to develop a flexible andhighly adaptable strategy that allows for the incorporation oftechnology in the learning process so as to increase the learningoutcomes in the ELT classes.

In trying to understand the problems faced by the teachers andlearners of English so as to design the most appropriate learningstrategy, some researchers have undertaken to review the problemsthat are faced by the teachers themselves in their role as the‘instruments’ of conveying the language to the learners. To thisend, most studies have found out that most of the learning strategiesapplied in the institutions of higher learning breed as much problemsto the teachers just as it breeds problems for the universitystudents’ English learners. Syed (2003), while assessing the illsof the language teaching and learning strategies of English,undertook to investigate the problems that the teachers of English toother non-English speaking students go through in their duties andended up with interesting outcomes. The results espoused that the EFLteacher training programs in Saudi Arabia were not systematic androbust enough to warrant those who had gone through the training tofacilitate a productive learning session for students. It wasobserved that the EFL teachers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had fora long time been trained in the education tertiary institutions thattrain all the other teachers and if not so, then they were from thefaculties of art that were affiliated with the Saudi universitiesoffering bachelor’s degrees in English. The problem with thisinstitutions as observed by the inquiry is that they basically offercourses on translation of English to Arabic and other languages andthe fact that one goes through this form of training does not makethem qualified to teach English as a subject in the English learninginstitutions of Saudi. Moreover, for those who were relativelyqualified as teachers of English and were in practice, they aretechnically handicapped by several challenges that cannot enable themto teach English effectively.

The teachers were found to be faced by problems of rote learningtechniques, lack of motivation and poorly developed leaningstrategies. All this problems were found to be emanating from thesituational framework of Language Education and rotes of SLA inSaudi. The paper basically notes that an appropriate learningstrategy should be learner oriented but must also take note of thechallenges that the language instructors go through in order todeliver.

Research in the area of English learning strategies in Saudiuniversities have also led researchers to investigate the exactcauses of the poor performance exhibited by some students even if allthe other inputs into the process are adequately provided for. Vann &ampAbraham (1990) sought to elucidate what makes a good learningstrategy by choosing to focus instead, on the kind of strategiesemployed by poor students who do not end up acquiring the language.The findings espoused that as much as there have been several similarstudies research in the discipline had not produced consistentfindings on the issue. Moreover, the problems manifested by the poorstudents in their learning strategies are found to be emanating fromlimited information on the strategies employed by the poor studentsand more so the discrepancy that exists between the strategies andwhat the students report that they actually undertake to comprehendthe language. Further, the study revealed that strategies thatpromote better outcomes are those that are largely adaptable andencourage continuous training of the instructors. It was noted thatin order to make strategies universally applicable, the studentsostensibly ought to be convinced of the importance of the strategyand they must be informed on how to assess the applicability of sucha strategy just as was also concluded by Brown et al (1983). Thestudy make a convincing case for what it finds as the best Englishlearning strategy by providing for prescriptions of the same in afashion that no other study had done before. The paper observesrather candidly that the best English learning strategy for the Saudiuniversity students is that which provides more detailed informationabout where, when, how and where the so developed strategies shouldbe applied. The overarching implication of the paper by Vann &ampAbraham (1990) is that strategies of language learning should becontext specified if they are to provide the best possible learningoutcomes.

The efficacy of language learning strategies have also been testedbased on the communication ability of the learners. This criterion isbased on the fact that the overriding objective of learning Englishin Saudi Arabia and other places where it is taught as a secondlanguage is to equip the learners with the necessary communicationtools to enable them communicate. In Ghaleb et al (2002), it wasascertained the Arab English learners frequently apply communicationstrategies to deal with the problems they are faced with anytime theytry to speak in English. However, it came out that this learnersattempt to cope with this problems by invoking strategies while theythemselves lack required competence in English to enable them achievethis. In such a scenario, it was found out that when such studentsare faced with such problems, they basically try to avoid specificcrucial domains of grammar. The study espoused that one way in whichthe students avoid the very domains of grammar is through theapplication of the English morphology or rather use the Arabiclexical items. This observation, as noted by the study, is usuallyobserved even in the native language (read Arabic).

In summary, the literature review section of this paper has revieweda variety of works done in the discipline of the current study basedon the differences in their findings. It has come out clearly thatmost researchers have advocated for a learning strategy that isguided by the preferences of the learner. Such researchers are alsofound to propose strategies that are integrative of the ‘traditional’teacher centered approach and the ‘modern’ student –orientedtechniques so as to come up with the best English learning strategy.Moreover, there is a general consensus that the strategy that is mosteffective is that which provides a free interactive atmospherebetween the learners and the teachers. The level of advancement inthe study of English by the university students in Saudi and theiruniversity majors are found to be crucial for the development of apiecemeal learning strategy but the literature reviewed in this paperis however divided on the effect of gender on the English learningoutcomes. Another important aspect revealed here is that mostproblems in the learning of English in Saudi universities encompasspedagogy, grammar, syntactic and morphological elements of thelanguage.

2.3Research Hypotheses

Based on the literature review provided in the preceding section,this study adopts the following research hypotheses to be tested inthe subsequent section. The hypotheses identified are categorizedinto the main hypothesis and the subordinate hypotheses as below.

  1. Main Hypothesis:

Learner oriented strategies are the best English learning strategiesin Saudi universities.

  1. Subordinate hypotheses.

  1. Ho: Gender determines the efficacy of English learning strategies in Saudi universities.

H1: Gender does not determine the efficacy of English learningstrategies in Saudi universities.

  1. Ho: The level of advancement in the study of English in Saudi universities determines the efficacy of learning strategies.

H1: The level of advancement in the study of English in Saudiuniversities does not determine the efficacy of learning strategies.

  1. Ho: The subject of major in Saudi universities determines the efficacy of learning strategies.

H1: The subject of major in Saudi universities does not determine theefficacy of learning strategies.

  1. Ho: Most learners have problems in English grammar.

Ho: Most learners do not have problems in English grammar.

3.0 Methodology

This section provides the description of the data that was used inthis paper and outlines the techniques that were utilized in thecollection and analysis of the data including samples of theinstruments used to collect data. Additionally, this section alsopresents the research design and the ethical considerations inresearch as they arose during the gathering of data.

3.1 Research Design

This paper adopts the use of qualitative methods in order to explorethe preferred vocabulary learning strategy by students in Saudisecondary schools. Based on the objectives outlined in the firstsection of this paper, qualitative techniques will be critical to theendeavor of this paper. Qualitative techniques like the applicationof attitude scales including the Likert scale and ordinal scales willbe important in obtaining the measures of mental effects of onlineshoppers. Qualitative techniques also come in handy since usingscales and through assigning of human attributes to some framework,it is possible to obtain cardinal values. The use of qualitativetechniques in an overly subjective and abstract research like thisone is also backed by the finding by most psychological researchersover time that human values and attributes can be measuredobjectively (Robson, 2007). For this reasons, the various qualitativeapproaches will be applied in this study so as to come up with robustempirical findings. Moreover, this paper seeks to capitalize on thecombined advantages of the various qualitative techniques whilereducing as much as possible the negative effects of such methods.

This paper used a comprehensive research approach, which incorporatesa variety of qualitative analyses such that the research problem asidentified in the first section of this paper is addressed fully. Theapproach adopted here was instrumental as it enabled the use ofqualitative techniques just as espoused by Klenke (2008) tofacilitate the prediction of the variations in the response variableof the study, techniques which are typical for such tasks (Muijs,2010).

3.2 Research Strategy

The research strategy that was used by this research paper wasanchored on the pooled benefits of using various qualitativetechniques. The research strategy majorly relied on these techniquessince they have been found to facilitate a high level of detachmentof the researcher from the processes and the outcomes of the paper(Bryman, 2006). This is very necessary since the outcomes of aresearch process should be based on empirical facts and not the sheerinstincts of the researcher. This technique was as much critical inproviding for the logical structure of the entire process, whichfacilitates the flow of work. This is so even as the technique lacksgrossly in validity and enhances the use of logic at the expense ofcertain crucial processes (Robson, 2007). The survey process that wasused in this technique was equally tedious and time consuming. Thevital role played by this technique in the study cannot beunderestimated. The research strategy allocated it the crucial taskof ascertaining the most effective vocabulary learning strategy.

3.3 Data and Data Collection Instruments

This study utilized both secondary and primary time series data. Forsome variables, panel data was obtained and incorporated togetherwith the pooled time series data. The data obtained relate to theperiod between December 2014 and May 2015 in which 20 respondents(Students at Taibah University) were interviewed. Time series andpanel data was suitable for this study since it is critical toobserve how the growth in concerns in the learning strategies haveevolved over time vis-à-vis real magnitudes. The data, which is 95%primary data was collected using in a field survey conducted byexperts who were assisted by local students in the study area. As forthe secondary data, content analysis which was done by qualifiedresearchers was used to obtain data from secondary sources andsubsequently perform a cross-tabulation of the aggregated results.This method of scrutinizing and analyzing secondary data was usedsince it is a robust method in circumstances that involve analysis offigures and interpretation of tabulated outcomes (Hsieh &ampShannon, 2005). Moreover, this secondary sources review technique hasalways been found to provide an in depth analysis and refinement ofalready existing data (Klenke, 2008).

In the survey that was conducted, the collection of primary data wascollected using structured questionnaires, which consisted of bothopen-ended and closed questions. The questionnaires designed for thisstudy were divided into two sections A and B. Section A requiredpersonal details of the respondent including age, place of residence,gender, level of education, state of activity and marital status.Section B of the questionnaire consisted of both general and specificquestions regarding the perceptions of the respondents on variouslearning strategies and their shortcomings. The questionnaire used inthis study was designed in an attractive manner with questionsordered depending on the increasing degree of complexity so as toentice respondents to respond to all questions as appropriate. Thechoice of a questionnaire as the major tool for collecting primarydata in this study was informed by several advantages. First, theadministration of questionnaires by researchers on the field enabledrespondents to seek clarification on questions that were notimmediately clear to them. Second, since the questionnaires advocatedfor anonymity, respondents (who were learners in the TaibahUniversityt) were much more likely to volunteer information withoutfear of any form of victimization. Purposeful sampling was used toidentify potential respondents of this questionnaire as guided by theresearch objective in the first section of this paper.

3.4 Data Analysis

In this section, the study employed factor analysis to manipulatethe data with the identified controls to test the hypothesesgenerated from the literature review. The primary data collected fromthe field using questionnaires was fed into computer software inspecific formats with coding mechanisms for attributes andsubsequently analyzed using SPSS Software. This process also enabledthe identification of the variables of study as they manifest fromthe analysis of the obtained data. It is important to note that in asmuch as this is an empirical procedure it is guided by thetheoretical background of the study, which singles out theanticipated variables of the model. The results of this manipulationsof data is usually meant to produce some descriptive statisticsregarding the data which include the mean, standard deviation,goodness of fit, the t-statistic and other statistical measures ofdispersion and relationships.

4.0Results and Discussion of Findings.

The responses obtained from the filled and returned questionnaireswere coded and analyzed as described in the preceding section of thisresearch paper. It became necessary to perform descriptive analysesso as to verify the respondents’ feelings on the roots ofstrategies that they felt were not delivering as well as aggregatetheir recommendations on the feasible ways in which the Englishvocabulary learning strategies can be made more effective in Saudiuniversities. The very initial questions were deliberately structuredto elicit the opinions of the respondents regarding their competencein English and the results obtained (Teacher: 3.285 &amp ELTstudent 2.256) showed that ELT students never comprehended thelanguage and attained the required competency after having formallycompleting their studies at the universities.

Most respondents seemed to agree that learner-oriented strategieswere the best methods in teaching and learning of English in theSaudi universities. The results further revealed that those whosuggested that learner centered techniques are the best methodssimilarly suggested that strategies that allow for a freer learningatmospheres in classrooms were the most effective in the learningprocess. Out of the 20 respondents, 18 composing 90% of the totalresponse felt that the level of advancement in the year of studynecessitated the application of different strategies to differentstages of learning owing to the discrepancy between the knowledgeacquired. When asked to provide reasons for their responses, thosewho advocated for different strategies for different levels suggestedvarious reasons that can be read as that those university students inSaudi at the very elementary level needed a lot of monitoring andtherefore an increased role for the teacher to play in the learningprocess. The more advanced learners were found to require littleassistance because the learning process at this level requiredteacher assistance that is customized to the needs of the students.The results from the response analysis are presented in table 1.0below.

Table 1.0: Results of the analysis.

Serial

Statement

Respondent

Average

Standard Deviation

t-value

p-value

1.

Competency in English vocabulary is acquired at graduation.

3.258

1.256

1.478

0.785

2.

Mostly study vocabulary for exam purposes.

2.589

1.478

0.145

0.015

3.

Teacher assistance is very necessary.

1.457

0.879

2.489

0.124

4.

Level of advancement affects strategy.

3.597

1.114

0.498

0.889

5.

University majors influence English grades.

1.452

0.369

1.259

0.789

6.

Entry criteria is too lenient.

5.482

0.987

3.25

0.256

7.

Poor outcomes are due to inefficient administration.

2.145

1.789

1.993

0.045

Teacher

1,259

0.789

0.988

0.002

8.

Female students are more active in English classes and perform much better.

3.127

0.963

1.993

0.003

Teacher

2.892

0.896

1.564

0.124

9.

Freer classroom atmospheres are more productive.

2.897

1.147

2.145

0.025

Teacher

2.154

0.987

0.781

0.012

10.

Most difficulties in English revolve around pedagogy.

3.418

1.128

0.579

0.369

11.

ELT learners are hardworking.

2.117

0.897

0.236

0.479

The table above summarizes the fronted reasons behind the poorperformance of the current strategies used in the learning of Englishamongst university students in Saudi. The highest value assigned bythe respondents (ELT student 3.63) which corresponded to the questionregarding the learners’ language being overly poor and critical atthe time that they enrolled at the university has clear implications.It confirms the findings of the literature reviewed earlier in thispaper, which espoused that the ordinary Saudi university studentslearned an average of about 100 words every single year. Moreover,the outcome is consistent with the findings of Al-Seghayer (2011)which concluded that regarding the rate of absorption of thelearners, the learners themselves were fully aware of the fact thatthey themselves did little to enhance their acquisition of English.The data analyzed using SPSS software reveal that a high number ofthe respondents (who are university students in Saudi) are notdetermined to learn English, lack motivation and have no initiativeto undertake personal studies to improve their competency in English.

The survey findings offer so many insights into what ought to beconceived as the best English learning strategy. The findingsindicate that a majority of students only study so as to pass examsand have no intrinsic motivation to learn the language passionately.Instead, what is observed is that the ‘learning’ of English inmost universities in Saudi is viewed as a means to an end and not asa concept complete in and of itself. This explains why most learnersdo not have the language available to use immediately they are donewith their final exams since they lack the motivation that enhancesthe retention of language far beyond academic concerns. Further, thestudy undertook a further analysis using the t-test to ascertain ifthere existed any fundamental

Differences between the responses as obtained from thequestionnaires. The outcomes of further interrogation of thequestionnaire are presented in table 1.2 below. From the resultsdisplayed in the table, the differences were not significant enoughto alter the results revealed and more so the policy implications ofthe outcomes of the survey. The general findings seem to suggest thatthe students at elementary levels of ELT classes in the universitiesof Saudi feel they may not be able to cope with the first round ofgrammar classes without translations into Arabic. Only a fewstudents, 15% feel that the translation sessions are a waste of timesince they are not important after all.

Serial

Statement

Respondent

Average

Standard Deviation

t-value

p-value

12.

More language classes should be introduced

2.258

1.546

1.459

0.585

13.

Classes need to be more interactive

6.589

1.478

0.146

0.005

14.

Translation courses are crucial

2.457

0.874

2.258

0.124

15.

There is need for more class assessments

5.597

1.114

0.498

0.899

16.

Computer use for language classes.

2.152

0.362

1.159

0.789

17.

There is need for revision classes

4.688

0.987

3.25

0.256

18.

Number of subjects per semester should be increased.

2.115

1.789

1.153

0.045

19.

There is need for more stringent admission bottlenecks.

2.236

0.964

1.993

0.003

To this regard, it was necessary to undertake further inquiry tounderstand the exact predisposition of the students as they enrollfor ELT classes at the Saudi universities. The inquiry espoused thatthe students at the higher levels of learning reported that thenumber of English vocabulary classes should be decreased while only afew of their counterparts in the lower levels responded to thequestion. A majority of the students at the lower levels seem to bethirsty for English classes. What’s more, the students wanttutorial classes, revision of materials and translations of assignedtasks. They are overly concerned about assistance with theirassignments and the exam preparation processes. These findings areconsistent with the findings of most other researches, which hadconclusions to the effect that ELT students in Saudi universities aremuch more concerned with the learning of English so that they onlyare able to pass their exams. The recommendations proposed by thesestudents are as much radical. They seem to suggest that a largeportion of the underlying reasons why they perform poorly isattributed to the ‘system’. By ‘system’ it is implied theteachers and more aptly the strategies within which the learning ofEnglish takes place in the campuses. The respondents (mostly teacherrespondents) suggested that the institutions of higher learningshould follow strict procedures in the recruitment of ELT students.The criteria should ensure that those who eventually make it into theinstitutions have a certain basic degree of grounding in grammar.

5.0Conclusions and Recommendations.

This study sought to scrutinize the available vocabulary learningstrategies of Taibah University ELT students with an overridingobjective of determining which amongst them is the mostappropriate.To achieve this, the paper undertook a vast and detailedliterature review, which revealed that there are quite a variety ofteaching and learning strategies being applied in Saudi universities,which all have certain advantages and demerits. The literature reviewfurther revealed that the most common strategies in the campusesembodied the teacher-centered and the learner-centered strategies.Moreover, it was revealed that the level of advancement in ELTclasses of the students, motivation, gender, endemic grounding inEnglish and influence of mother tongue are some of the greatestvariables that determine the extent to which any given strategy willbe successful in achieving its objectives. It was also establishedthat a majority of Arab learners of English are faced withgrammatical (read vocabulary) difficulties in the areas ofnoun-pronoun interchange most problems in the learning of English inSaudi universities encompass pedagogy, grammar, use of Englishmorphemes, syntactic and morphological elements of the language.

The study applied largely quantitative techniques to investigate theessentials of what ought to be the best English learning strategiesapplicable in Saudi universities. The results showed that there was ahigh preference for the English learning strategies that weretailored to suit the preferences of the learners. The strategiesalluded to here were also visualized to provide the much sought freerlearning atmosphere with a healthy, mutual relationship between thelearner and the teacher. In this way, the learner is able to interactfreely with the teacher therefore enabling the teacher to assess thestudent’s areas of weakness. Additionally, it came out very clearlyin the outcomes that the level of advancement of the learners in therespective ELT classes ought to necessitate the use of differentlearning strategies. This is attributed to the fact that the needs ofthe learners at the elementary level are very different from those oftheir counterparts at more advanced levels of the ELT classes. Theimplications of this findings cannot be mistaken, there is a need todevelop an all-integrative strategy that takes into account the levelof advancement in ELT classes and allows for the assessment ofinter-stratum as well as the intra-stratum evaluation. With this, itwill be possible for stakeholders to monitor the progress of thestudents as they transit to more advanced levels to ensure theyacquire the necessary skills at the preceding stages before beingadvanced to the next level. Equally important is the response thatthere is need to institute more stringent measures to ensure that thestudents enrolled for the ELT classes in Saudi universities attain apredetermined threshold of grounding in grammar. This will enable thelearners to cope with the strategy applied in the campuses in a moreuniversal manner. The findings of the study with regards to genderdummy was not so clear despite having used rigorous mechanisms whichcontradicts previous researches. This implies that the best strategyfor learning English at the universities need not to take the gendervariable so seriously. Not necessarily. It would however be importantfor the best strategy to deal with the technical areas of grammarencompassing areas of student weaknesses such as pedagogy, grammar,use of English morphemes, syntactic and morphological elements of thelanguage.

In line with the aim of this paper, and drawing from the outcomes ofthe empirical analysis, the best English learning strategy is thelearner-oriented technique. Moreover, this technique has to take intoaccount the level of advancement of the learners, their initialgrounding in grammar, and the technicalities that trouble Arabspeakers of English and maybe to some extent gender considerations.Otherwise, the SLA in Saudi universities so far as English isconcerned will always be illusionary.

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