Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number3   September 2021                                           Pp. 3-15

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EFL Students’ Awareness of Culture-Specific Words and Concepts: The Challenges and
Opportunities for Students in a Saudi Undergraduate English Program

Abdullah Abdulrahman Bin Towairesh
Department of English Language and Translation, College of Languages and Translation
King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Email: abintowairesh@KSU.EDU.SA


Received: 4/3/2021                 Accepted:  8/7/2021                Published: 9/24/2021


Cultural knowledge is an integral part of the language teaching process in EFL situations. The difficulties facing students in this area have negatively affected their ability to communicate successfully and translate accurately. Nonetheless, the debate over the significance of involving cultural aspects in the language classroom has continued in the local Saudi context. The language weaknesses resulting from the lack of sufficient cultural perspective can also be observed and confirmed in this region. Students’ understanding of culture-specific words and concepts is the area that is affected the most when a disconnection occurs between language teaching and cultural knowledge. Thus, in this paper, the researcher examines the impact of this disconnection by outlining the extent to which cultural knowledge is incorporated into EFL language courses. This study also focuses on documenting the language use examples that illustrate the difficulties faced by students in this regard, which is an aspect that is missing from several previous studies in the local context. The data examined in this study were collected through open-ended questionnaires and organizing focus group discussions. The analysis of the results reveals that the cultural component of language teaching is not satisfactory for the English major students surveyed in this study. The research participants also described the kind of cultural knowledge missing from their curriculum and the specific areas affected by that. The study concludes with several suggested solutions that focus on the resources available to Saudi students (and other students in the same circumstances) and on utilizing the most recent developments in online education in the past two years.
Keywords: awareness, challenges and opportunities, language and culture, idiomatic expressions, Saudi EFL undergraduate programs

Cite as:  Bin Towairesh, A. A. (2021). EFL Students’ Awareness of Culture-Specific Words and Concepts: The Challenges and Opportunities
for Students in a Saudi Undergraduate English Program .  Arab World English Journal, 12 (3) . 3-15.


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Received: 4/3/2021 
Accepted: 8/7/2021 
Published: 9/24/2021

Abdullah Bin Towairesh obtained his PhD in Linguistics from The University of Queensland, Australia. He authored two book chapters on ‘Addressing Strangers in Riyadh’ and on ‘Saudi Contributions to Translation in the Field of Linguistics.’ He also translated the licensed Arabic version of David Crystal’s book ‘Internet Linguistics.’ His most recent publication is ‘Language Ideologies and Saudi Society: Understanding the Concept of Diglossia.’ He is currently an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at King Saud University’s College of Languages and Translation.