Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number4. December 2020                                             Pp.15-30

 Full Paper PDF


A Developmental Step in the Right Direction: The Case for Concept-Based Instruction in
the Omani ESP Classroom

Amer Ahmed
Department of English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Applied Sciences
Dhofar University, Salalah, The Sultanate of Oman

Iryna Lenchuk
Department of English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Applied Sciences
Dhofar University, Salalah, The Sultanate of Oman

This article reports on the results of action research conducted in a university ESP classroom in Oman. The impetus for this research was the practitioner’s dissatisfaction with the current practice of introducing the grammatical concept of the English passive and its subsequent results. Framed within the sociocultural theory of cognitive development, this paper investigates the effectiveness of concept-based instruction (CBI). As a pedagogical approach, CBI targets a learner’s internalization of the concept of a language constituent that assists the learner with the meaning making abilities of sentences where the English passive is used. Twenty-two university students enrolled in an ESP course participated in the study. The data was collected through the teacher’s observations, students’ artifacts, and students’ feedback on the effectiveness of CBI. Data analysis reveals the effectiveness of CBI in heightening learner awareness of the concept of a language constituent, developing learner knowledge of the English passive, and improving their meaning-making abilities at the phrasal and sentential levels.
Keywords: concept-based instruction (CBI), language constituents, meaning-making abilities, sociocultural theory, Vygotsky

Cite as: Ahmed, A., & LenchukI. (2020). A Developmental Step in the Right Direction: The Case for Concept-Based Instruction in the Omani ESP Classroom.  Arab World English Journal11 (4)15 -30.


Ahmed, A., & Lenchuk, I. (2020). Making sense of Task-Based Language Teaching in the Omani EFL context. Asian EFL Journal, 24(3), 6-27.

Al-Issa, A. S. M., & Al-Bulushi, A. (2012). English language teaching reform in Sultanate of Oman: The case of theory and practice disparity. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 11, 141-176.

Arievitch, I., & Stetsenko, A. (2000). The quality of cultural tools and cognitive development: Gal’perin’s perspective and its implications. Human Development,43, 69-92.

Arievitch, I. M., & Haenen, J. P. P. (2005). Connecting sociocultural theory and educational practice: Gal’perin’s approach. Educational Psychologist, 40(3), 155-165.

Astrolabe. (2020, June 12). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.. org/wiki/Astrolabe

BBC News. (2011). Chanel No 5: The story behind the classic perfume.

Burns, A. (2015). Chapter eleven: Action research, In J. D. Brown & C. Coombe (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to research in language teaching and learning (pp. 187-204), 1st ed. Cambridge University Press.

Denman, C., & Al-Mahrooqi, R. (Eds.). (2019). Handbook of research on curriculum reform initiatives in English education. IGI Global.

Dosemagen, D. M., & Schwalbach, E. M. (2019). Legitimacy of and value of action research. In C. Mertler (ed.), The Wiley handbook of action research in education (pp. 161-183). Wiley.

Eberhard, D., Simons G. F., & Fennig C. D. (eds.). (2020). Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-third editions. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved from

Fodor, J. A., & Bever, T. G. (1965). The psychological reality of linguistic segment. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 4, 414-420.

Gal’perin, P. I. (1989). Mental actions as a basis for the formation of thoughts and images. Soviet Psychology27(2), 65-82.

Gal’perin. P. I. (2010). O formirovanie umstvennyh dejstvij i ponjatij. [On development of mental actions and concepts]. Kul’turno-istoricheskaja psihologiya. [Cultural-Historical Psychology]3, 111-114.

Gánem-Gutiérrez, G. A., & Harun, H. (2011). Verbalisation as a mediational tool for understanding tense-aspect marking in English: an application of Concept-Based Instruction. Language Awareness, 20(2), 99-119.

Garsía, P. N. (2017). Implementing concept-based instruction in the heritage language classroom: A pedagogical proposal. Euro American Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages , 4(1), 1-19. DOI

Gibbs, W. W. (1996). Smart materials

Haenen, J. (2001). Outlining the teaching-learning process: Piotr Gal’perin’s contribution. Learning and Instruction11, 157-170.

 International English Language Testing System (IELTS). (2020). How IELTS is scored

Ismail, M. A. (2011). Language planning in Oman: Evaluating linguistic and sociolinguistic fallacies. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Newcastle University. Newcastle, Britain.

Jacobson, P. (2006). Constituent structure. In K. Brown (Ed.), The encyclopedia of language and linguistics (pp58-71), 2nd ed. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsvier.

Kearns, K. (2011). Semantics. (2nd ed.). London, UK: Palgrave.

Swain, M. (1985) Communicative competence: some roles of comprehensible input and

comprehensible output in its development. In S. M. Gass and C. G. Madden (eds), Input

in second language acquisition (pp. 235–53). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Swain, M., Lapkin, S., Knouzi I., Suzuki, W., Brooks, L. (2009). Languaging: University students learn the grammatical concept of voice in French. The Modern Language Journal93(1), 5-29.

Tallerman, M. (2020). Understanding syntax (5th ed.). Hodder Education: UK.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, and E. Souberman (Eds.), Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1987). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 1. Problems of general psychology. Including the volume Thinking and Speech (R. W. Reiber and A. S. Carton (Eds.). New York: Plenum Press.

Zaretsky, V. K. (2012). Dumaja o Petre Yakovleviche Galperine. [Thinking of Piotr Yakovlevich Galperin]. Kul’turno-istoricheskaja psihologiya[Cultural-Historical Psychology], 4, 73-85.


Dr. Amer Ahmed is an Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature,
Dhofar University. His research interests are in the areas of linguistic interfaces, second language
acquisition, second language pedagogy and methodology, and Arabic diglossia. He has been
teaching ESL and courses in linguistics in Canada and Oman. ORCID: