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Title:Saudi students and IEP teachers: converging and diverging perspectives
Author(s):Johnson, Daniel J.
Advisor(s):Markee, Numa
Department / Program:Linguistics
Discipline:Teaching of English Second Language
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
English as a Second Language (ESL)
Intensive English Program (IEP)
Saudi students
Intensive English Program (IEP) teachers
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
International Students
Abstract:This research investigates the perspectives of teachers and Saudi students in an Intensive English Program (IEP) on the necessary skills for international students’ success in American university classes, the IEP’s effectiveness in developing those skills, and on the role of high-stakes English-language proficiency tests such as the TOEFL and IELTS. The research used a group interview format with some elements of focus group methodology. This project was undertaken to add to the somewhat underdeveloped literature on Saudi students in US IEPs, where they represent significant proportions of enrolled students. It was thought that research comparing and contrasting teacher and student views would serve as a valuable tool to develop teacher and researcher understanding of these students. In addition, this research aims to shed light on what teacher and students believe that international students need to succeed in American university classes and in so doing provide teachers and programs with information on student perspectives on decisions that are typically made at the program level without student input. The interviews demonstrated that teachers saw significant differences in their students based on their gender, with positive stereotypes associated with female students and negative stereotypes with male students. Students, however, hardly oriented to gender at all. In addition, the teachers identified many study skills, classroom expectations, and pragmatic skills as important to success in American university classes, but these were almost entirely absent from the student interviews. Finally, both teachers and students agreed on the importance of personal responsibility on the part of the students although the teachers seemed to see a certain lack of personal responsibility among Saudi students (particularly male students). These findings present a significant challenge to the professional identities of IEP teachers. As experts in intercultural education and communication, they should be accustomed to dealing with students from very different cultural backgrounds and in understanding those differences. However, the level of problematic views that this research has revealed should serve as a reminder to teachers that they must always be wary of forming stereotypical views of students, since those views can quickly color or even pre-determine, in a way, interactions with future students. Further reflection and communication are necessary to combat these concerns.
Issue Date:2015-07-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Daniel Johnson
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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