Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The informal language learning of female Saudi undergraduates
Author: Aldheferi, A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 9355 8707
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2020
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Informal language learning provides opportunities to assimilate languages under natural conditions by providing authentic language learning materials: this is especially true in cases of drip-feed English in a foreign language context where English is not spoken outside the classroom. However, to date, informal language learning has not been as thoroughly investigated as a formal learning strategy due to certain difficulties in quantifying its effects and in observing learners outside the classroom. In light of this, the present interpretive study aimed to explore whether, and to what extent, female Saudi BA English language students engaged in informal language learning, the types of activities involved, and the materials they used to do so. The study also explored participant perceptions of the impact of informal language learning on their language proficiency. In order to fully interrogate the core research questions, this research design draws on a ‘mini ethnographic’ approach comprising two qualitative research methods (semi-structured interview and collected documents of examples of the activities used by the participants) for data collection. The study participant cohort consisted of eight female third- and fourth-year Saudi undergraduates, majoring in the English language. The ensuing data confirmed that these students employ various activities outside the classroom to learn English. In fact, the participants reported that the considerable time they maintained on informal language learning activities both assisted and supported their overall language learning and language development. In addition to social media, pop-songs, movies, other virtual materials such as TV programmes, were found to be the most commonly used informal language learning activities. The learning affordances arising from these activities were perceived to create numerous occasions and prospects to hone fluency and the accurate use of English. The participants specified a diversity of reasons for using informal language learning activities and materials: most notably, a sense of privacy and enhanced self-confidence in using the target language. Other factors included flexibility, portability, and the ubiquitous availability of tablets, mobile phones, and laptops, which offer greater learner privacy and control than the formal class setting. Moreover, the findings indicated that the participants find these types of activities more interesting. The study additionally reflected on the main difficulty encountered by Arab learners in adopting informal language learning from their perspective: namely, the significant lack of face-to-face English language usage in the Saudi context. The thesis concludes by offering practical recommendations for both language learners and TESOL teachers. The findings underscored learners’ belief that their use of informal language learning can provide an authentic source of language input to contribute to the development of overall language proficiency. I argue that English language teachers should promote more ‘natural’ extramural situations to extend student learning affordances beyond the paradigms of the traditional classroom environment.
Supervisor: Salter-Dvorak, H. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available