Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on CALL Number 7. July 2021                                 Pp.3-21

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       Examining Saudi EFL University Students’ Readiness for Online Learning at the
Onset of Covid-19 Pandemic

Elham Abdullah Ghobain
English Language Institute, Jazan University
Saudi Arabia
Corresponding Author:

Abdullah Ahmed Zughaibi
English Department, Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Jazan University, Saudi Arabia


Received: 5/26/2021               Accepted:  6/22/2021             Published: 7/26/2021


Nowadays, especially after the COVID-19 crisis lockdown, the heavy reliance on technology and online platforms led to a greater expectation of more learning autonomy among English learners in EFL contexts such as Saudi Arabia. The sudden shift to online learning requires an investigation into students’ readiness and willingness for such a mode of learning. This can provide educators with many prospects about learning outcomes achievement and assessment, test performance, and interaction during classes. Therefore, the current study seeks to contribute to the well-known area of learner autonomy research, which is still lacking in the context of the study, by exploring the readiness of Saudi first-year undergraduate English learners towards online education. Participants’ level of readiness is identified according to their autonomous behaviors and activities. The study will also assess the investigated concept considering the influence of gender and field of study of the participants on their autonomy levels. A total of 802 students participated in this study. It was found that Saudi first-year university students are moderately autonomous, that both males and females have similar levels of aptitude and readiness for taking responsibility for their learning, and that English-major and non-English-major groups showed comparatively similar levels across different learning autonomy dimensions. Yet interestingly, English-major participants displayed a relatively lower autonomy level than students of other majors.
Keywords: English learners, online learning, Saudi learners, learner autonomy, university students, learning during covid19 lockdown

Cite as: Ghobain, E. A. , & Zughaibi, A.A. (2021).  Examining Saudi EFL University Students’ Readiness for Online Learning at the Onset of Covid-19 Pandemic   Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on CALL (7). 3-21.


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Dr. Elham Ghobain is an assistant professor of Applied Linguistics and ELT, at the English
Language Institute, Jazan University, Saudi Arabia. She obtained her PhD in Applied Linguistics
and ELT from Warwick University, UK. She also did her MA in ELT (ESP) at Warwick
University, UK. Currently, she is the vice dean of the English Language Institute at Jazan University.
Her research focuses on sociolinguistics, ESP, and learner autonomy.

Dr. Abdullah Zughaibi is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at the English Department of Jazan University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Dr. Zughaibi graduated with MA and PhD from La Trobe University, Australia. Formerly, he was the dean of the English Language institute, Jazan University. His research interest focuses on pragmatics, language learning, and sociolinguistics.