Motivation for learning English in the Saudi Arabian context: Perceptions of learners, teachers and parents

Author: Wael Ali Ahmed Holbah

Holbah, Wael Ali Ahmed, 2015 Motivation for learning English in the Saudi Arabian context: Perceptions of learners, teachers and parents, Flinders University, School of Humanities and Creative Arts

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This research explores perceptions of motivational factors that affect language learning within a Saudi Arabian context, specifically perceptions of the role of learners, their families, teachers, schools and Saudi Arabian society. The research is concerned with Intermediate level (Year 9) L1 Arabic speakers who are learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The theoretical framework for this research was a modified version of AlMaiman’s (2005) "Basic model of the role of aptitude and motivation in second language learning", whose framework was in turn a modification of Gardner (2001).

To undertake the study, the researcher employed convergent parallel design consisting of questionnaires administered to 223 learners, six individual interviews with learners, and a focus group "in-depth interview" with 12 learners. Also, the researcher conducted six individual interviews with English language teachers and six individual interviews with parents of learners. The analysis of the questionnaire data indicates that learners have varying perceptions towards the motivational factors studied, which are learner motivation, teacher motivation, parental motivation, the influence of the school on motivation and the impact of Saudi Arabian society on motivation. Learners perceived themselves, their teachers and their parents to have a positive influence on their learning, while seeing the school and society as negative. In general, learners were found to have positive perceptions about learning of English and the ways in which their teachers teach English. Similarly, analysis of the interview data indicates that learners, teachers and parents perceive that learners themselves, their teachers and their parents all have a positive influence on the motivation of learners, and share negative views about the impact of schools and Saudi Arabian society on encouragement of English language learning. All learners, teachers and parents believed that they should work together to encourage learners in their learning of English. They also agreed that the continuum of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors should work together for every learner who wishes to learn the language. Although intrinsic motivation is needed for EFL learners to continue to learn English in a foreign context in Saudi Arabia, this study found that Saudi Arabian EFL learners also need to be encouraged with extrinsic rewards, such as grades and getting jobs.

This study provides information for practitioners, educators, teachers and policy makers who desire to better understand the learning processes and teaching practices in the Saudi Arabian classroom context. The findings of this research are useful in helping to implement motivational strategies in the Saudi Arabian EFL context and thereby, improve English language learning outcomes.

Keywords: Motivation, Motivational factors, Learning and teaching, Perceptions of learners, teachers and parents, Saudi Arabian context.

Subject: English as a Second Language thesis, Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2015
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Robyn Najar