Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 13. Number2.  June 2022                                       Pp. 412-423

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Issues with Communicative Language Teaching Implementation in Saudi Arabia
Concerning the Government Policy, Teachers, and Students: Two Decades of Research

Ahmed O. Alharbi
School of Education, University of Glasgow
Glasgow, United Kingdom


Received:  3/25/2022                         Accepted:5/11/2022                           Published: 6/24/202


This paper focuses on the most significant empirical studies on the topic of challenges facing the communicative language teaching approach in Saudi Arabia. The communicative language teaching method has been used for more than two decades in Saudi Arabia and research conducted during this period offers some insight into the main challenges of the implementation. The main goal of this paper is to synthesize findings from research studies conducted in the past and by doing so, suggest the possible avenues for tackling these challenges. Four broad categories of challenges have been adopted from Li’s (1998) comprehensive framework in an attempt to structure the challenges under meaningful labels. This, in turn, enabled us to categorize the challenges according to their source which helped our understanding of how to resolve them. The findings suggest that the most frequently observed policy-related challenges are the current exam system, overcrowded classes, no AV equipment, and low quality of in-house training programs for teachers. Teacher-related challenges mostly relate to conflicting ideas about CLT, low confidence in these methods, preference for the traditional learning model, focus on developing skills that feature in the exams, and deficiencies in teachers’ English. Student-related challenges are found to be their low-level proficiency, passive learning style, lack of motivation to learn the target language, and fear of their marks being negatively affected if they are paired with weaker peers during communicative activities. This paper concludes that these challenges are all interconnected, and a systematic approach is essential in trying to tackle these with the government intervention being a potential first step.
Keywords: Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), CLT in Saudi Arabia, CLT-related challenges, language policies in
Saudi Arabia, policy-related challenges, student-related challenges, teacher-related challenges

Cite as:   Alharbi, A. O.  (2022). Issues with Communicative Language Teaching Implementation in Saudi Arabia Concerning the Government Policy, Teachers, and Students: Two Decades of Research. Arab World English Journal, 13 (2) 412-423.



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Received: 3/25/2022  
Accepted: 5/11/2022    
Published: 6/24/202

Ahmed Alharbi was born in Saudi Arabia in 1984. He received his bachelor’s degree from University of Hail in 2010 in the major in teaching English. The master’s degree was received in 2014 from the University of New England in Australia in the major of |Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Currently, he is studying PhD in Glasgow university in the United Kingdom in major related to Communicative Language Teaching implementation in Saudi Arabia. The experience of teaching English was three years from 2015 to 2018 in two universities in Saudi Arabia.