The Elephant in the Room: Is a Nationwide English Language Policy Needed in EFL Contexts? A Study on English Departments in Saudi Arabian Universities

Suliman Mohammed Alnasser, Mohammad Almoaily


Both English and Arabic are used in Saudi higher education institutions. Research on English language policies (ELPs) in the Saudi context is limited, highlighting the need for further examination of their implementation and nature. This study investigates the need to introduce a top-down ELP in the Saudi higher education context and the best way to apply this policy from the perspectives of instructors and administrators. A mixed-method approach to data collection was employed: official documentation was analyzed and an online survey, with an open-ended section for faculty members affiliated with Saudi higher education English departments across the country (n=210), was employed. Thereafter, semi-structured interviews were conducted with chairpersons and vice-chairs of university English departments (n=8). The findings suggest that although the majority of English departments recognize the importance of using ELPs, they have either not introduced them or have practiced them implicitly, with a high degree of flexibility that has led to these policies playing a marginal role in academia. The study concludes by encouraging policymakers to design a unified framework for ELPs with the involvement of representatives from university English departments. Other implications are also discussed.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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