A Master of Arts Thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Submitted to the College of Arts and Sciences by Ghadah Hassan Batawi Entitled, "Exploring the Use of CLT in Saudi Arabia," January 2007. Available are both Soft and Hard Copies of the Thesis.
Many studies have been conducted to investigate the success of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) adoption in EFL countries. Some of these studies advocate the implementation of CLT teaching, whereas many studies in other EFL countries reflect the success of traditional teaching methods and report certain difficulties in trying CLT. However, there is no specific study that addresses CLT implementation in the Saudi context. Because teachers' understanding of an innovation plays a primary role in its success, this study aimed to investigate teachers' understandings and views regarding the use of CLT innovation in the Saudi context. This was accomplished by addressing the following questions: What are teachers' actual practices in language classrooms regarding certain aspects of CLT: the importance of grammar, error correction, teacher's role, student's role, group work, and testing? And will teachers face challenges in adopting CLT? If so, what are the major difficulties that teachers in Saudi Arabia believe they will encounter in implementing CLT? To answer these questions, 100 female teachers participated to this study by filling out surveys. The findings of the surveys answered my initial question pertaining to teachers' actual practices in language classes. 12 of those teachers also contributed to the second phase of the study in which they constituted three focus group discussions. The discussions were mainly about teachers' understanding of CLT and what obstacles they might encounter in an attempt to implement it. The findings indicated that teachers employ a range of practices that reflected using a combination of methods while teaching. In other words, Saudi teachers exhibit features of both traditional and communicative approaches in their classrooms, leaning more towards the traditional methods of teaching. In addition, the findings of the study indicated some major obstacles that could hamper teachers in trying CLT. The difficulties are grouped into three main categories: difficulties caused by the teacher, the students, and the education system. The results suggest that to successfully use CLT, educators, including teachers, supervisors, administrators, and curriculum designers must give attention to the following three areas: the value of training, reorientation of the society in general, and adapting rather than adopting CLT. In the long run, Saudi teachers should establish their own research in order to develop language teaching methods that are more suitable to the Saudi context.