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Title: The impact of English language preparatory programmes in a Saudi Arabian university : an investigation of students' perceptions of their language difficulties, experiences and suggestions
Author: Gaffas, Zainab
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 4178
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2016
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This study reports on the findings of an investigation into the impact that English language preparatory programmes (ELPPs) had on students in the College of Pharmacy at Umm Al-Qura University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To better understand how these language programmes provided students with valuable preparation for the academic demands required in their pharmacy courses, I designed a questionnaire and administered it to 105 second-year pharmacy students. The aim of the questionnaire was to explore students' perceived difficulties with academic reading, speaking, writing, and listening. The findings of the questionnaire indicate that students' difficulties centre on their lack of a rich, general vocabulary, which results in poor performance in academic reading, speaking, writing, and listening. I also found that students' difficulties occur in academic reading (particularly in reading academic genres), academic speaking (particularly in expressing ideas accurately and fluently, answering lecturers' questions, and asking for more explanations), academic listening (particularly in inferring the meaning of implicit information, listening to long stretches of English speech, and identifying the main lecture topic), and academic writing (particularly in writing essay-question answers). The results also reveal that these language difficulties are attributed to students' previous English learning and teaching experiences, linguistic differences between English and Arabic, a lack of context for using English, and a lack of confidence in using English. To identify the English language preparatory programmes' (ELPPs) other areas of impact, I interviewed students. The results show that the ELPPs had both negative and positive impacts. The negative impact seemed to be associated with the poor quality of the learning experience, which results in limited English language development, particularly in vocabulary and in speaking, writing, and reading skills. The findings show that students' perceptions of how the language programmes contributed to their poor learning experiences were related to 5 factors: the length and intensity of the programmes, the lack of equal educational opportunities, the teachers and teaching practices, the assessment practices, and the poorly equipped classrooms. The positive impact, on the other hand, was mostly related to three areas: improved listening skills, adjustments for the heavy academic demands required in the subsequent field of study, and enhanced awareness of the importance of English. To identify areas of improvement, I held four group discussions with the students. The discussion findings reveal a wide variety of suggestions that must be considered when planning for future language programmes.
Supervisor: Rosowsky, Andrey Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available