Acculturation and Perceived Social Distance among Arabs and Saudi Arabians in an ESL Situation

  •  Abdulkhaleq Al-Qahtani    


The main purpose of this study was to explore the perceived social distance among a small Arab community residing in a college town in the Midwest of the USA. The study examines its possible impact on the process of learning/acquiring English as a second language (ESL). It draws on the findings and contentions of the acculturation model as outlined by Schumann (1978). Three data collection procedures were employed: personal interviews, field observations, and a questionnaire. Five members of the aforementioned community were interviewed: three Saudi Arabians, and two other Arabs. The interviews were mapped against the social factors of the model as summarized by Brown (2000). Then a sum of 17 Saudi Arabian informants (graduate students) responded to a questionnaire. The findings suggest that different Arabs acculturate differently in accordance to their future plans. The persons who intend to reside in the target language (TL) culture acculturate (perceive smaller distance from the TL group) much more than those transient residents who intend to live there for a specific purpose and leave after finishing their business. The permanent residents' self-perception of their English proficiency is higher than the temporary ones.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.