Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to determine the degree of interrelatedness and the role of a number of context‐specific factors in the English language proficiency development of Arab college‐bound learners. These factors include: language class risk‐taking, sociability, discomfort, motivation, and attitude toward class. Design/methodology/approach – The study employed a one‐group pretest‐posttest experimental design. In total, 67 ( n =67) male English as a foreign language college‐bound learners participated in the study. All participants took general English language proficiency pretests and posttests in order to determine the effect size of improvement in their language proficiency after an intensive treatment of 200 contact hours. The calculated effect sizes of improvement were correlated with learners' scores on the factors under study as measured by a modified version of the Ely classroom climate measure. In addition, Pearson product‐moment correlation coefficients were computed and a step‐wise multiple regression analysis was run in order to determine the degree of interrelatedness among the variables under study and to determine their extent of their role in the effect size of the proficiency gains of the participants. Findings – The findings indicated that language class sociability is positively related to students' motivation to learn and to a positive class attitude. Conversely, language class risk‐taking was found to be negatively related to class discomfort which in turn was negatively related to student motivation to learn. The findings also indicated that none of the affective variables under study predicted the effect size of the proficiency gains realized by learners. Research limitations/implications – The findings of this study suggest that language acquisition is a complex process determined by interaction among a number of learner‐related and contextual factors. Furthermore, the findings suggest that motivation for learning is related to learners' affective feelings and may impact their class participation. A limitation of the study is that it employed a one‐group experimental design and, as such, there was no control or comparison group. Practical implications – Using humanistic/affective methods of teaching could decrease students' feelings of class discomfort and increase their motivation and class sociability. Originality/value – The study provides insights into the language acquisition process of Arab college‐bound learners based on empirical evidence.
Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 3, 2008
Keywords: English language; Students; Saudi Arabia