Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Covid 19 Challenges April 2021                          Pp,147-159

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English Language Teaching in Saudi Arabia in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges
and Positive Outcomes

Reem A. Al-Samiri
English Language Institute,
University of Jeddah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Recived: 3/6/2021                     Accepted: 4/8/2021                      Published:4/26/2021  


The pandemic of 2020 was a watershed moment for all educators worldwide as schools and universities were forced to close their doors to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Thus, a new movement towards widespread e-learning emerged with unknown consequences for learners and educators alike. The situation in Saudi Arabia was no exception. The purpose of this study is to explore how English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching and learning at the tertiary level in Saudi Arabia was impacted negatively and positively by the move to online learning. It reviews research published since the onset of the pandemic, with a specific focus on English language teaching at Saudi universities, to analyze the challenges faced by Saudi EFL teachers and learners since the shift to e-learning. One of the biggest challenges observed was students’ lack of motivation, which upon further review was found to be linked to other contributing factors, such as technological issues, inapt learning environments, and students’ mental health. This paper also examines the unforeseen positive outcomes resulting from the digital transformation, including the benefits of the flexibility of place and time and promotion of particular language skills. The current research synthesis will help contribute to the knowledge of online English teaching in the Saudi context.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning, e-learning, English as a foreign language
(EFL), English language teaching (ELT), remote learning, Saudi university students

Cite as: Al-Samiri, R. A. (2021). English Language Teaching in Saudi Arabia in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Positive Outcomes.  Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Covid 19 Challenges (1) 147-159.


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Received: 3/6/2021  
Accepted: 4/8/2021
Published: 4/26/2021  

Reem A. Al-Samiri is an assistant professor at the English Language Institute at the University of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She completed her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teaching at the University of Kansas, USA, majoring in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Her research interests include language learner/teacher identity, language teacher education, and transnational students’ experiences in education.