Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number4  December 2020                                              Pp.31-49

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The Notion of Emotion in EFL Learning and Teaching in Saudi Arabia: A Critical Review
of 20 Years of Research


  Fakieh Alrabai
Faculty of Languages
King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia




This paper provides a broad critical review of the research that examined the emotional factors such as learners’ attitudes, motivation, language anxiety, autonomy, and self-esteem in the context of learning English as a foreign language (EFL) in Saudi Arabia over a period of 20 years (2000-2020). The aim of this critical review is to answer some questions relating to identifying the most common themes of research efforts in this area, the strengths, and weaknesses among it; and to explain how such efforts have contributed to the development of English language learning/teaching within the Saudi context. The study is significant in that the findings identified some issues with thematic orientation in Saudi EFL emotion research—particularly regarding under- and over-explored topics due to an element of randomness in how research topics related to EFL emotions are often selected and explored, with some topic areas receiving excessive attention and others receiving little or no attention. Some issues related to research design and methodology were also acknowledged and assessed. The study suggests that it is useful to develop ways to coordinate and streamline future research on EFL emotions in Saudi Arabia and to work towards developing new research protocols that investigate the practicalities of language learning emotions in real learning situations.
Keywords: anxiety, attitudes, EFL learning/teaching, emotion, motivation, Saudi Arabia 

Cite as:  Alrabai, F. (2020). The Notion of Emotion in EFL Learning and Teaching in Saudi Arabia: A Critical Review of 20 Years of Research.   Arab World English Journal, 11 (4) 31-49.


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Dr. Fakieh Alrabai is an associate professor of Applied Linguistics at the Faculty of Languages,
King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia. Dr. Alrabai is the author of many books and
journal articles that deal with issues in the areas of foreign language motivation, learner
autonomy, self-esteem, and language anxiety. Some of the articles authored by Dr. Alrabai are
published in highly-ranked Applied Linguistics journals like Applied Linguistics, and Language
Learning. ORCid ID: