A Systematic Review of Research on Teaching English Language Skills for Saudi EFL Students

Hamad H. Alsowat


This systematic review study sought to examine the teaching of English language skills in Saudi Arabia by systematically analyzing the previous studies on language skills which were published within the past ten years and identify the research areas to be bridged in the future. The study employed the systematic review approach. The search strategy yielded 221 studies for inclusion in the systematic keyword map, and 95 studies for in-depth review. The findings of this systematic review revealed that students sampling presented (80.09%) in those studies, and female students participated in only (24.43%) of those studies. In addition, (73.30%) of the conducted studies were at the university level indicating a limit interest of the school-level research. In addition, (68.52%) of those studies focused on writings kills , reading skills and achievement indicating the necessity to give more attention to speaking, listening, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar research at all education sectors in the future. The in-depth review also indicated an obvious focus on reading and writing skills and most the studies were undertaken at the university level. The findings were discussed and a number of language skills research gaps were pointed out. 


English Language Teaching, ELT, Language Skills, Saudi Arabia, Systematic Review

Full Text:



Ababneh, I. (2017). Analysis of Written English: The Case of Female University Students in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Social Science Studies, 5(4), 1-5.

AbdulFattah, S. (2015). The Effectiveness of Using WhatsApp Messenger as One of Mobile Learning Techniques to Develop Students' Writing Skills. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(32), 115-127.

Ahmad, J. (2011). Pronunciation Problems among Saudi Learners: A Case Study at the Preparatory Year Program, Najran University Saudi Arabia. Language in India, 11(7), 22-36.

Ahmed, F. (2016). An Investigation of Writing Errors of Saudi EFL University Students. International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research, 4(2), 189-211.

AlAbik, W. (2014). Assessment of Reading Comprehension of Saudi Students Majoring in English at Qassim University, Saudi Arabia. Studies in Literature and Language, 9(1), 155-162.

Alamin, A. (2012). Syntactical and Punctuation Errors: An Analysis of Technical Writing of University Students Science College, Taif University, KSA. English Language Teaching, 5(5), 2-8.

Alamin, A. & Ahmed, S. (2012). Syntactical and Punctuation Errors: An Analysis of Technical Writing of University Students Science College, Taif University, KSA. English Language Teaching, 5(5), 2-8.

AlAsmari, A. (2015). A Comparative Determination of Barriers of Oral English Learning Faced by Preparatory Year Students. European Scientific Journal, 11(35), 58-81.

Albalawi, F. (2016). Analytical Study of the Most Common Spelling Errors Among Saudi Female Learners of English: Causes and Remedies. Asian Journal of Educational Research, 4(3), 48-62.

Alenazi, M. (2013). Listening Comprehension skill difficulties as perceived by 1st YearEFL Female Students at Arar College of Education. Journal of Arabic Studies in Education & Psychology, 41(1), 1-48.

Alhaisoni, E., Al-Zuoud, K. & Gaudel, D. (2015). Analysis of Spelling Errors of Saudi Beginner Learners of English Enrolled in an Intensive English Language Program. English Language Teaching, 8(3), 185-192.

Al-Hammadi, F. (2011). The Effectiveness of Using a Multi-media Software in Developing Some Listening Skills Among Saudi Secondary School Students. Damascus University Journal, 27 (3+4), 43-86.

Alharbi, A. (2014). The effectiveness of interactive software in acquiring English language reading and speaking skills for sixth grade students. Journal of Faculty of Education in Tanta, 4(1), 465-483.

Al-Hassaani, A. (2016). A Case Study of Question Formations of the Saudi EFL Learners at Bisha University. English Language Teaching, 9(5), 54-64.

Alhawsawi, S. (2013). Investigating student experiences of learning English as a foreign language in a preparatory programme in a Saudi university (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.

AlJiffri, I. (2009). The Effect of Integrating the Task-Based Learning With Computer Assisted Instruction on the Speaking Performance of EFL Learners. Journal of College of Education in Alazhar, 139(3), 423-441.

Al-Johani, H. (2009). Finding a way forward the impact of teachers strategies, beliefs and knowledge on teaching English as a foreign language in Saudi Arabia (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

Aljumah, F. (2011). Developing Saudi EFL Students’ Oral Skills: An Integrative Approach. English Language Teaching, 4(3), 84-89.

Al-Khairy, M. (2013a). English as a foreign language learning demotivational factors as perceived by Saudi undergraduates. European Scientific Journal, 9(32), 365-382.

Al-Khairy, M. (2013b). Saudi English-Major Undergraduates' Academic Writing Problems: A Taif University Perspective. English Language Teaching, 6(6), 1-12.

Alkubaidi, M. (2014). The Relationship between Saudi English Major University Students’ Writing Performance and Their Learning Style and Strategy Use. English Language Teaching, 7(4), 83-95.

Almubark, A. (2016). Exploring the Problems Faced by the Teachers in Developing English Writing Shills for the Students in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of English Language Teaching, 4(10), 10-23.

Al-Nasser, H. (2015). Problems of English Language Acquisition in Saudi Arabia: An Exploratory-cum-remedial Study. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 5(8), 1612-1619.

Al-Qahtani, A. (2010). The effectiveness of metacognitive strategies on secondary stage students’ achievement and attitudes towards English language (MA thesis). Taif University, Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qahtani, A. (2016). Why Do Saudi EFL Readers Exhibit Poor Reading Abilities?. English Language and Literature Studies, 6(1), 1-15.

Alrabai, F. (2014). A Model of Foreign Language Anxiety in the Saudi EFL Context. English Language Teaching, 7(7), 82-101.

Alrabai, F. (2016). Factors Underlying Low Achievement of Saudi EFL Learners. International Journal of English Linguistics, 6(3), 21-37.

Alrashidi, O. & Phan, H. (2015). Education Context and English Teaching and Learning in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: An Overview. English Language Teaching, 8(5), 33-44.

Al-Roomy, M. (2013). An action research study of collaborative strategic reading in English with Saudi medical students (PhD thesis). University of Sussex, UK.

Alseweed, M. (2009). Attitudes of Saudi Secondary School Level Students Towards Learning of English as a Foreign Language. Journal of Arabic and Human, Qassim University, 2(1), 9-22.

Alshahrani, A. (2016). Communicating Authentically: Enhancing EFL Students’ Spoken English via Videoconferencing. CALL-EJ, 17(2), 1-17.

Althobaiti, N. (2014). Error Correction in EFL Writing: The Case of Saudi Arabia, Taif University. Journal of Modern Education Review, 4(12), 1038-1053.

Baka, F. (2013). Writing, an Old-New Problem for Arab Learners in King Faisal University English Major Program. Scientific Journal of King Faisal University (Basic and Applied Sciences), 14(1), 329-347.

Bettany-Saltikov, J. (2012). How to Do a Systematic Literature Review in Nursing: A Step-By-Step Guide. Berkshire: Open University Press.‏

Carfax Educational Projects (2016). English Language Market Reports: Gulf States – Saudi Arabia: A report prepared for the UK’s English language sector. UK: British Council.

Deng, Q. & Trainin, G. (2015). Learning Vocabulary with Apps: From Theory to Practice. The Nebraska Educator: A Students-Led Journal, 29, 49-69.

EF English Proficiency Index (EPI). (2017). Available at:http://www.ef.com/sa/epi/ [Accessed 13 April 2017].

Elyas, T., & Picard, M. (2010). Saudi Arabian educational history: Impacts on English language teaching. Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, 3(2), 136-145.

ETS. (2016). Test and score data summaries. Available at: https://www.ets.org/toefl_itp/research/ [Accessed 14April2017].

Faruk, S. (2013). English language teaching in Saudi Arabia: A world system perspective. Scientific Bulletin of the Politehnica University of Timisoara. Transactions on Modern Languages, 12(1-2), 73-80.

Freihat, N. & AlZamil, A. (2014). The Effect of Integrating MOOC’S on Saudi Female Students’ Listening Achievement. European Scientific Journal, 10(34), 127-142.

Grami, G. (2012). Online Collaborative Writing for ESL Learners Using Blogs and Feedback Checklists. English Language Teaching, 5(10), 43-48.

Grami, G. & Alkazemi, B. (2016). Improving ESL writing using an online formulaic sequence word-combination checker. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 32, 95–104.

Habbash, M. & Idapalapati, S. (2016). Distinctiveness of Saudi Arabian EFL Learners. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 7(2), 113-120.

Hago, O. & Khan, W. (2015). The Pronunciation Problems Faced by Saudi EFL Learners at Secondary Schools. Education and Linguistics Research, 1(2), 85-99.

Hall‏, G. (Ed.). (2016). The Routledge Handbook of English Language Teaching. New York: Routledge.

Hamad, M. (2013). Factors Negatively Affect Speaking Skills at Saudi Colleges for Girls in the South. English Language Teaching, 6(12), 87-97.

Hameed, P. (2016). A Study of the Spelling Errors committed by Students of English in Saudi Arabia: Exploration and Remedial Measures. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 7(1), 203-207.

Hamouda, A. (2013a). An Investigation of Listening Comprehension Problems Encountered by Saudi Students in the EL Listening Classroom. International Journal of Academic Research in Progressive Education and Development, 2(2), 113-155.

Hamouda, A. (2013b). An Exploration of Causes of Saudi Students' Reluctance to Participate in the English Language Classroom. International Journal of English Language Education, 1(1), 17-34.

IELTS. (2016). Test taker performance for 2015. Available at: https://www.ielts.org/teaching-and-research/test-taker-performance [ Accessed 14 April 2017].

Javid, C. (2013). An Investigation of Effectiveness of Simulation in Developing Oral Skills: A Case Study. European Scientific Journal, 9(32), 254-270.

Javid, C., Farooq, U. & Umer, M. (2013). An Investigation of Saudi EFL learners' Writing Problems: A Case Study along Gender-lines. Kashmir Journal of Language Research, 16(1), 179-203.

Javid, C. & Umer, M. (2014). Saudi EFL Learners'’ Writing Problems: A Move Towards Solution. Proceeding of the Global Summit on Education GSE, 4-5 March, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Lau, J. (2007).Evidence-Based Medicine and Meta-Analysis: Getting More Out of the Literature. R. Greenes (Ed.), Clinical Decision Support: The Road Ahead (pp. 249-264). Burlington: Elsevier, Inc.

Littell‏, J., Corcoran‏, J. & Pillai, V. (2008). Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.‏

Littlejohn, A. (2013). The Social Location of Language Teaching: From Zeitgeist to Imperative. In A. Ahmed, M. Hanzala &‏F. Saleem‏ (Eds.), ELT in a Changing World: Innovative Approaches to New Challenges (pp. 3-16). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Mahmoud, S. (2013). The Effect of Using English SMS on KAU Foundation Year Students’ Speaking and Writing Performance. American International Journal of Social Science, 2(2), 13-22.

Ministry of Education, KSA. (2017). Ministry of Education: Statistical Report. Available at: https://www.moe.gov.sa/ar/Pages/StatisticalInformation.aspx [Accessed 12 April 2017].

Ministry of Finance. (2017). Annual Budget Report. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Murrey, N, & Beglar, D. (2009). Inside track: writing dissertations and theses. Dorset: Henry Ling Ltd.

Naikoo, I., Ganai, P. & Tawhari, S. (2016). Errors in English Paragraph Writing Made by Jazan University Students: A Linguistic Analysis. International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research, 4(1), 473-479.

Nezami, S. (2012). A Critical Study of Comprehension Strategies and General Problems in Reading Skill Faced by Arab EFL Learners with Special Reference to Najran University in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Social Sciences and Education, 2(3), 306-316.

Rahman, M. & Alhaisoni, E. (2013). Teaching English in Saudi Arabia: Prospects and Challenges. Academic Research International, 4(1), 112-118.

Raja, Z. & Zahid, R. (2013). Enhancing Writing Skills: An Analytical Study of Obstacles in Writing at B. A. Level in Najran University, KSA. Studies in Literature and Language, 7(2), 1-7.

Rajab, H. (2013). Developing speaking and writing skills of L1 Arabic EFL learners through teaching of IPA phonetic codes. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(4), 653-659.

Sawalmeh, M. (2013). Error Analysis of Written English Essays: The case of Students of the Preparatory Year Program in Saudi Arabia. English for Specific Purposes World, 40(14), 1-16.

Seargeant, P. (2016). World Englishes and English as a Lingua Franca: a changing context for ELT. In G. Hall (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of English Language Teaching (pp.13-25). New York: Routledge.

Sharifian, F. (Ed.). (2009). English as an International Language: Perspectives and Pedagogical Issues. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Siddiqui, M. (2015). Evaluating Capitalization Errors in Saudi Female students’ EFL writing at Bisha University. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ), 6(1), 232-250.

Wilson‏, R. & Poulter, M. (Eds.). (2015)‏. Assessing Language Teachers' Professional Skills and Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Younes, Z. & Albalawi, F. (2015). Exploring the Most Common Types of Writing Problems Among English Language and Translation Major Sophomore Female Students at Tabuk University. Asian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 3(2), 7-26.

Younes, Z. & Albalawi, F. (2016). Investigating the Factors Leading to Speaking Difficulties: Both Perspectives of EFL Saudi Learners and Their Teachers. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ), 7(2), 268-287.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.8n.5p.30


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.