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Teaching and Learning in the Arab World

Edited By Christina Gitsaki

In the Arab States, globalization and economic development have had a significant effect on education. Serious concerns have been expressed over the state of education in the Arab world. Even in the oil-rich Gulf States, with over 200 higher education institutions, education is problematic with a notable lack of emphasis on specialized science and innovative learning. The Gulf States are in a race to become ‘knowledge economies’ and, as a result, they are promoting educational reforms such as the application of bilingual education models and curricula adopted from the West. This book provides a collection of studies on the state of education in Arab countries with a special focus on the Arabian Gulf, where currently there is increased activity and investment in education. The book is composed of three major sections. The first section is a collection of nine papers on current practices and challenges in education in the Arab world. The second major section is devoted to the educational reforms that are being implemented in the Arabian Gulf. The third and final section is a collection of papers describing new approaches to teaching and learning in the Arab world.

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Part I: Current Practices and Challenges in Teaching andLearning in the Arab World

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Part I: Current Practices and Challenges in Teaching and Learning in the Arab World ABBAD ALABBAD & CHRISTINA GITSAKI Chapter 1 Attitudes toward Learning English: A Case Study of University Students in Saudi Arabia Abstract This chapter discusses Saudi students’ attitudes toward learning English as a foreign language (EFL) and their satisfaction with the current teaching methods used by teachers of English. Data were collected from 215 university students using an attitudinal questionnaire. Seventeen students from the subjects who completed the questionnaire participated in semi-structured interviews to discuss in detail their concerns and suggestions about the current EFL teaching method in Saudi Arabia. The findings revealed the students’ negative attitudes toward learning English largely due to the didactic, teacher-centred approach and the limited use of teaching aids in the classroom. Student suggestions and recommendations confirmed that it is necessary to take practical steps to move from passive learning approaches towards a more learner-centred approach incorporating modern digital technologies. Introduction Teachers and researchers in countries where traditional English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching methods are practised have been 4 Abbad Alabbad & Christina Gitsaki calling for a change in classroom teaching practices. For example, in China (Jin, 2007; Ling, 2008), in Iran (Hayati, 2008), and in Japan (Cooker & Torpey, 2004; Tanaka & Stapleton, 2007), investigations are being directed towards replacing the traditional, didactic, teacher- centred approaches with practices that accommodate learners’ communicative objectives in language learning. In learning environments that still adhere to the traditional teaching methods, such as the grammar-translation method and...

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