Problems and Difficulties that Saudi Students and Teachers of English Encounter while composing their Essays in English Language

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Problems and Difficulties that Saudi Students and Teachers of English Encounter while composing their Essays in English Language


The recent global dissemination of English, so that it now appears set to become a universal language, has generated concerns among users (speakers) of other language forms. A closer assessment at the processes through which English language has in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) transformed into an international language implies that in fact the urge has continuously surpassed the supply. Language dissemination initiatives of English-using nations have tended to be trials to exploit global interests to learn and use the language. However, Elyas and Grigri argue that there has been inadequate interest to expand the desire. The relationship of English with contemporary technology, with economic advancement, and with globalisation, has inspired people worldwide to learn English and to have their offspring learn it early in their life (75). The more this has excelled, the elevated the reason for others to want to have reach to the prosperity and power perceived to be the outcome of being able to use English proficiently. The desire is not a new concept; as early as the first quarter of the 20th century, Chinese and Japanese entrepreneurs were begging to value knowledge of the language (Elyas and Grigri 75). The area of education is also expanding exponentially in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and with the advancement of education teaching of English language has also taken a new dimension. Nonetheless, high school learners and teachers still encounter considerable challenges that make it difficult to use English in their writing as effectively as possible. Therefore, this research proposal illustrates the need to conduct a study that will show why learners find it difficult to use the language and whether anything can happen to improve the use of the lingua franca. Paying considerable attention to improve the use of English will not only improve how learners and teachers write essays but will also increase their confidence in relating with people from other cultures.

Problem Statement and Significance of the Study

It is apparent that a significant portion of teachers and learners in Saudi Arabian high schools encounter considerable constraints composing an essay in English. The challenge deters learners from performing exemplary well in the English subject and also to communicate as effectively as possible using the language. Even though English is extensively spoken in learning institutions and also taught as a mandatory second language in schools, a considerable number of learners still experience significant challenges constructing flawless essays. Consequently, the essays of many students writing in English is characterised by spelling, structural, and vocabulary errors. The issue requires attention that would ensure that high school learners have the competence to construct essays that follow English rules.

The study is significant because it presents an opportunity to look deeper into the issues that hinder the effective use of English in writing and come up with effective remedies that would help to address the problem. Paying considerable attention to the issue provides the chance to understand how lack of motivation and the feelings of nervousness and fright hamper the ability to develop needed skills. Moreover, shedding more light into the matter under investigation will offer the chance to understand how culture-related factors impede learners’ capacity to construct good essays in English language. In their article that seeks to investigate factors influencing Saudi learners’ educational encounters in Australian institutions of higher learning and adjustment-related issues, Alsahafi and Shin report that culture plays a crucial role in determining how Saudi learners adjust in the foreign context, including their use of English (53). Hence, knowing the extent at which the Arabic culture deters learners’ ability to effectively use English in various circumstances including in writing essays may help to facilitate the making of necessary adjustments. For instance, instructors, officials at the state level, and other stakeholders will see the value of enacting measures that make it possible to understand the experiences of other cultures and bridge the cultural variations. So far, Alsahafi and Shinthink that very insignificant research has happened aimed at addressing factors that enhance cultural differences and affect the high number of Saudi leaners seeking education in foreign learning institutions (54). Thus, paying considerable attention to the study will be of significant value in understanding what needs to happen to elevate the use of English by Saudi students.  

Research Question

The following research questions guide this study;

  • What are the challenges that many teachers and students in Saudi Arabian high schools face in composing proper essays in English?
  • Are there possible remedies to the issues and do they have the capacity to address the concern?

Aims and Objectives

The study seeks to achieve various aims and objectives. The first aim is to give a clear description of why a substantial number of learners in Saudi Arabian high schools have considerable challenges composing essays in English and to understand the challenges that teachers encounter. The other aim is to find out whether something can happen to address the problem and possibly improve how learners use English in their writing. The study considers this to be a major guiding aspiration considering the fundamental role English plays as a lingua franca. For many centuries, Jenkins acknowledges, English has served as a lingua franca, meaning that the language has acted as a form of communication among speakers of dissimilar languages (486). One important area that has adopted ELF as its common language both in writing and in speech, is academia (Rowley-Jolivet 2). It follows, therefore, that any speaker of English, be they from an first language or native language (L1) English nation, a post-colonial English-speaking nation, or a nation where the language is neither official language nor L1, can effectively use English as a lingua franca (ELF) (Jenkins 487; Jenkins a 201). Thus, being able to mitigate the problem will offer the chance for learners to engage people from other cultures using their essays that depict competent use of various structures. A guiding objective in this instance is to find out the factors that are easy to avoid yet contribute significantly towards the hardships that learners face in using English as well as those that may not be as easy to avoid or mitigate. For instance, the study will explore the possible implications of culture on the use of language and whether this contribute towards the challenges in using English in writing.


The research requires an effective methodology that would facilitate the achievement of answers to the research questions. Adhering to an appropriate methodology presents a chance to conduct a successful and informative study that would respond to the research questions in the most fitting manner.


The sample in this study comprises of 100 instructors in different schools across Saudi Arabia. Teachers from both rich and poor neighbourhoods will take part in the research. The study incorporates instructors from different schools and backgrounds to increase the chances of getting an expansive view on the issue rather than a shallow view on the research questions. All teachers who take part in the study will be teaching English in their respective schools, and should be able to tell the issues that deter their learners from using English as effectively as possible in their essays after close interaction with them. It means that the teachers who take part in the study must have spent considerable time with learners to be able to tell their challenges. In addition, the study settles on teachers as the most suitable sample group for this study because they are in a better position to inform how learners perform in their essays, and whether the performance is satisfying or not. Another inclusion factor in this case is that participating teachers are of Arabic origin to be in a better position to show or illustrate how the Arabic culture possibly impact on learners’ ability to create flawless essays in English. However, the exclusion factor in selecting participants are, those who do not teach the English language, those who do not have much awareness of their learners’ strengths and weaknesses, and those who are not of Arabic origin and cannot confidently show the impact of culture on learners use of English and overall performance in the language.


Measures are the components in a research to which participants respond. Research measures encompass interview questions, survey questions, or other constructed forms. Hence, the following is a set of measures (interview questions) for this study that seeks to establish the hardships of writing an essay using the English language. The study in this case settles on open-ended questions because of the benefits associated with them. Open-ended questions according to Hyman and Sierra provide respondents a chance to offer a broad range of responses (3). However, open-ended questions according to Desai and Reimers could derail the quality of response if participants have to give extensive responses. The participating teachers will respond to the listed questions;

  1. Do you believe that high school students have considerable challenges composing essays in English?
  2. What are the key factors that you think contribute towards the challenge?
  3. Based on your interaction with learners, what are some of the individual concerns you have identified as contributing towards incompetency in writing English essays?
  4. What does students’ grades and performance tell you about the problem?
  5. Do you think that culture has a role in facilitating the hardship that learners encounter?
  6. What challenges do you face as teachers in handling learners in the subject?
  7. What are some of the approaches you think may effectively improve students’ ability to use English in writing essays?
  8. Do you think the mitigating approaches are easy to implement and embrace or they could present considerable challenges?


Participants will receive the questionnaire via their email because of the convenience associated with the interviewing approach. Prior to taking part in the exercise, teachers will gather papers from learners to correct and countercheck their performance and grades to be in a position to give concrete responses to the research questions. Afterwards, conducting a descriptive analysis will provide valuable information about the collected data. A descriptive analysis is the most preferable approach in this case because it offers the chance to analyse data using a systematic design to lessen the probability of presenting misguiding outcomes (Kaur et al. 3). Adhering to the procedure will increase the likelihood conducting a successful study.

Works Cited

Alsahafi, Nisreen and Seong-Chul Shin. “Factors Affecting the Academic and Cultural Adjustment of Saudi International Students in Australian Universities.” Journal of International Students, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 53-72.

Desai, Saoirse and Stian Reimers. “Comparing the Use of Open and Closed Questions for Web-Based Measures of the Continued-Influence Effect.” Behavior Research Methods, vol. 51, no. 3, 2018, doi:10.3758/s13428-018-1066-z

Hyman, Michael and Jeremy Sierra. “Open- versus Closed-Ended Survey Questions.” Business Outlook, vol. 14, no. 2, 2016, pp. 1-5.

Elyas, Tariq and Wassel Grigri. “Obstacles to Teaching English in Saudi Arabia Public Schools: Teachers’ and Supervisors’ Perceptions.” International Journal of English Language Teaching, vol. 2, no. 3, 2014, pp. 74-89.

Kaur, Parampreet, Jill Stoltzfus and Vikas Yellapu. “Descriptive Analysis.” Biostatistics, vol. 4, no. 1, 2018, pp. 60-63.

Jenkins, Jennifer. “English as a Lingua Franca from the Classroom to the Classroom.” ELT Journal, vol. 66, no. 4, pp. 486-496.

Jenkins, Jennifer a. “English as a Lingua Franca: Interpretations and Attitudes.” World Englishes, vol. 28, no. 2, 2009, pp. 200-207.

Rowley-Jolivet, Elizabeth. “English as a Lingua Franca in Research Articles: The SciELF Corpus.” Asp, vol. 71, 2017, pp. 1-13.

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