Dissertation Defense Announcement

College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Dissertation Defense of

Sulaiman Algofaili

for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

February 22, 2019 at 10:30 AM in Patterson Hall, Room 448

Advisor: Dr. Teresa Dalle

A Study of Saudi Teachers' and Students' Attitudes Towards the Use of ESP at a Saudi Military Academy

ABSTRACT: English for Specific Purposes (ESP) classes address the specific professional and technical fields of students learning English and attempt to use appropriate materials and approaches to do so. At the King Abdulaziz Military Academy (KAMA) in Saudi Arabia, ESP classes prepare students for military careers. However, officers who graduate from KAMA notice that their level of English is lower than that required to command non-Arabic speakers, and they struggle in communicating with others in English. The reason behind the students' low competence at KAMA is still not clear but could result from the choice of approaches or texts used in the ESP classes. This study aims at investigating KAMA students' and teachers' attitudes toward the effectiveness of the current textbooks and teaching methods used in ESP classes. More specifically, it aims at exploring the role of teachers in designing, selecting, and adding to the courses they teach. It also aims at exploring the teaching methods employed in the classes and what factors have led to the teachers' choices. From another perspective, this study identifies a number of class activities and tasks perceived by students as most helpful and valuable in learning English for military purposes. Four research questions guide the current study and specifically address the issue of teacher perceptions of the class approaches and materials and student perceptions of most effective practices. The study utilizes a mixed methods approach; the population of this study was 109 students in their second/third year of study in at KAMA in 2018. Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews indicate that all four language skills are crucially important in learning English. Also, results of the study reveal that the textbook is helpful to some extent. The students' questionnaires suggest a need for improvement in terms of the physical contact with students, teaching materials, and practical in-class activities and tasks that meet student needs. The teachers' data show an intense use of teacher-centered approach. The data indicate major challenges confronted by teachers that may negatively impact the process of teaching English for military students.