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An investigation into the language needs of Saudi students studying in British postgraduate programmes and the cultural differences impacting on them

Alqahtani, Majed (2011) An investigation into the language needs of Saudi students studying in British postgraduate programmes and the cultural differences impacting on them University of Southampton, School of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis , 294pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


It is well understood by international students who are studying in an English speaking country that proficiency in English is crucial to success. English for Academic Purposes has conventionally aimed to focus on a blend of language skills and study strategies to support students before and during their postgraduate studies. It is apparent from anecdotal information that the needs of Saudi Arabian students are not being met, as they continue to encounter problems with the academic culture of the British higher education system.

This study investigates the needs of Saudi students. It draws principally on present situation analysis and target situation analysis to explore the extent of students? needs. It exceptionally introduces a new element, referred to as cultural aspects of learning analysis, to assess new areas that preparation courses can usefully focus on.

A mixed methods approach is used in this study (Questionnaire, Interview, and Observation), and three groups of participants were approached for the purpose of data collection to determine precisely what elements of academic study in the UK uniquely pose problems for Saudi students. The questionnaire was distributed to 62 Saudi students (male and female) studying at postgraduate level at Southampton University; from this, deductions could be drawn that should apply across the whole Saudi community of graduate learners in the UK. Interviews were composed of three sets: with postgraduate students; with students studying on the English for academic studies programme; teachers teaching on the English for academic studies programme. The observations centred on different English for academic studies classes. Therefore, the data have been analysed qualitatively and quantitatively.

The research examines traditional methods of English teaching in the KSA within the context of the Saudi education system, and surveys attitudes towards the difficulties of studying in the English language, in terms of language differences and the academic cultural demands of British postgraduate study programmes. It also examines the area of English for Academic Purposes to ascertain why Saudi students report that these courses do not meet their target situation needs.

The results of this study reveal that there are indeed specific needs that relate only to Saudi students studying in the UK, and that a number of these do relate to cultural difference. The recommendations assist in three major areas: (a) to outline suggestions for the provision of preparation courses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; (b) to improve the provision of programmes of English for Academic Purposes; and (c) to provide advice to Saudi students in their studies in the United Kingdom.

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Published date: January 2011
Organisations: University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities


Local EPrints ID: 198175
PURE UUID: 7943841a-f217-47d2-a840-766d15492914

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Date deposited: 19 Oct 2011 11:00
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:19

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Author: Majed Alqahtani
Thesis advisor: Alasdair Archibald

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