Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 14. Number 3 September 2023                                  Pp.110-123

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 Challenges in Incorporating English as the Medium of Instruction at King Saud bin
Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences

  Abdulelah Alkhateeb
Department of English, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud bin Abdulaziz
University for Health Sciences & King Abdullah International Medical Research Center
Alahsa, Saudi Arabia.
Corresponding Author:

Sajjadllah Alhawsawi
Department of English, College of Science and Health Professions, King Saud bin Abdulaziz
University for Health Sciences & King Abdullah International Medical Research Center
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Received:06/06/2023         Accepted:08/15/2023                 Published: 09/24/2023


In contexts where English is not a mother tongue, several institutions implement English as the medium of instruction. This paper argues that Saudi students pursuing tertiary education in scientific disciplines like health sciences must study in English-medium settings where they encounter several academic challenges related to the English language. Pre-university education for Saudi students is conducted in Arabic, which may have resulted in a jarring transition when they were expected to be instructed in English at the university. This abrupt change in the instruction medium challenges students’ English language proficiency. This paper aims to answer this question “What do perspectives students and instructors at KSAU-HS have regarding the challenges of implementing EMI in CAMS-A? ” It may also question the institution’s language policy and the quality of its educational outcomes. By using data from semi-structured interviews and classroom observations, the findings of this paper attempt to comprehend challenges such as 1) pre-university English language preparations, 2) misaligned expectations between content instructors and English instructors regarding improving students’ English language, 3) time and effort in preparing and delivering lectures using EMI, and 4) impeding students’ comprehension of content knowledge and driving them to rote memorization. This paper discusses these obstacles to provide potential explanations and solutions by calling into question the monolingual bias of EMI programs in Saudi Arabia.
Keywords: English for Specific Purposes, English medium instruction, English language proficiency,
Language policy, Preparatory year program, Students’ academic challenges, Teaching English in tertiary education

Cite as: Alkhateeb, A., &  Alhawsaw, S.  (2023). Challenges in Incorporating English as the Medium of Instruction at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences.  Arab World English Journal, 14 (3) 110-123.


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Received: 06/06/2023
Accepted: 08/15/2023  
Published: 09/24/2023  

Dr. Abdulelah Alkhateeb is an assistant professor of English studies and a coordinator of the Department of English in the College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences. Dr. Alkhateeb holds an MA in TESOL from Arkansas Tech University and PhD in English Studies from Illinois State University, USA. Dr. Alkhateeb’s research interests include English medium instruction, teaching English as a foreign/additional language, language policy in higher education, teacher education, pedagogical and instructional language curricula design.

Dr. Sajjadllah Alhawsawi is an assistant professor of English as a Foreign Language at KSAU-HS. Dr. Alhawsawi holds a Ph.D. in education from the School of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex, UK. Dr. Alhawsawi’s research interest includes program evaluation, teacher education, higher education, instructional design, sociology of education, and pedagogical use of ICT university education. n.