English-Medium Instruction and Content Learning in Freshman Year: An Investigation of a Saudi University Students’ Challenges and Learning Strategies

Nourah A. Altheyab, Fahd Sh. Alalwi


The present study investigates the challenges that science freshmen perceive in English-medium instruction at Prince Sattam bin Abdelaziz University in terms of language and learning as well as the frequency of relevant learning strategies employed by students. A questionnaire was used to collect data from 376 students enrolled in the First Year Program at Prince Sattam Bin Abdelaziz University, considering their gender, scientific tracks, and previous English exposure. Results reveals that females were less comfortable communicating with professionals in their classrooms. Simultaneously, freshmen females perceive greater challenges in content comprehension, knowledge application, and learning adaptability. Therefore, they relied on learning strategies supported by L1 more frequently than males. Comparison of groups based on tracks shows that engineering students have more difficulty communicating with professionals than medical students. Furthermore, freshmen with extensive prior English exposure had fewer difficulties communicating with their peers and professionals. They perceived fewer difficulties with content comprehension, knowledge application, and learning adaptability. In contrast, freshmen with little prior exposure to English relied more on L1-related learning strategies. The findings show significant differences in perceiving EMI-related challenges and adopted learning strategies based on the relevant variables. They suggest that the shift from high school Arabic-medium education to English-medium instruction in higher education requires careful institutional and individual planning.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjel.v12n6p71

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

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