The Role and Impact of English as a Language and a Medium of Instruction in Saudi Higher Education Institutions: Students-Instructors Perspective

Ebad, Ryhan


English as a medium of Instruction in higher education institutions across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a debatable subject. The Ministry of Higher Education mandates English as the Medium Instruction (EMI) in all the higher education institutions across the kingdom. Since Arabic is the mother tongue of the natives and the only spoken language in the entire region, it is the only medium of instruction in all the schools up to the secondary level. English is formally introduced as the language of instruction in undergraduate level. This sudden shift in language produces a barrier which creates chaos and repulsive issues with the medium of instruction. All the universities have their separate English Language Centre (ELC) as well as Preparatory Year Program (PYP) where they intensively train and prepare students for the English language. Emphasis is laid upon improving students reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. However, many studies conducted to examine the issue of medium of instruction have revealed an existence of a huge gap between teaching and learning, knowledge acquisition, and overall understanding of the subjects using English medium of instruction. Arabization is also a major contributing factor in making the situation difficult. Students and instructors encounter high levels of challenges and obstacles during the course of classroom instruction. This paper identifies the gap between English medium instruction (EMI) and Arab medium instruction (AMI) and investigates the root cause of the issues taking into account the reports of other case studies. The paper concludes with recommendations to address these issues.

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