Traditional & Socio-Cultural Barriers to EFL Learning: A Case Study

  •  Jameel Ahmad    


This research tends to ascertain several traditional and socio-cultural barriers to English language learning in Saudi Arabia and to explore more ways than before for making teaching and learning more effective. The findings of four quantitative and qualitative surveys conducted in this regard reveal a unique traditional and socio-cultural milieu, which turns the Saudi EFL learners lackadaisical towards English. The belief that prosperity and prestige are blessed by divine force rather than proficiency in English has influenced Saudi parents and Saudi EFL learners since time in memorial. In addition, a laissez-faire attitude to English language teaching in Saudi schools, lack of motivation for English, inadequacy of competitive and learning environment both at home and schools, and the appointment of some unskilled school-teachers were investigated as some of the major barriers to learning English in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A piecemeal reform taken over a period was found ineffective. Therefore, implementation of culturally relevant English curricula, learner-centered instruction, appointment of skilled English teachers and establishment of boarding schools were recommended to address the aforementioned challenges. The findings of the present research is no doubt specific to Saudi EFL context but the traditional and socio –cultural barriers and the exclusion of local culture in EFL textbooks may have exactly the same impact in many non-native English speaking countries.

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