Sample of Research writing:
Topic: To analyze how the change in customer perception towards health and wellness influences product design in the sports and fitness industry
Chapter One & Two-
Table of Contents
Chapter One - Introduction
The sports and fitness industry is growing rapidly worldwide. The sports and fitness organizations operating in the private sector are booming and they can potentially become the leaders of the leisure settings. The market is most profitable with Europe and is increasingly witnessing a growing number of practitioners. Within UAE, the trend of sports and fitness amongst the general public has become common and the customers are actively seeking the sports and fitness products and services that can serve their individual needs (Pedragosa, 2009). With the increasing trend of sports and fitness in UAE, the awareness regarding the related products is also increasing and the customers have become increasingly aware of the products and services that can help them to enjoy and maintain their fitness and sports (Canhoto & Arp, 2017).
Customer perception, in general, remains the center of concern for product development and marketing professionals. Customer perception changes with time and is generally impacted by the large number of factors. It can include the pricing, service quality, customer service, and the utility that the product is providing to the customer. The customer perception is also impacted by the value and ethics of the product and the reputation of the product in the market. However, with the increased information flow, the knowledge of the customers regarding different products has improved. The customers have become more aware of their needs and which have resulted towards altering the specifications of the products and services that are being offered in the market. There are some basic characteristics that are inherent in the generic product version which is designed to provide fundamental benefit to the customers. These generic products and services are made distinct by adding the value of the extra features such as performance or quality enhancement. Thus the final version of the product in this context includes the augmented properties that offer the customer with more tangible benefits and that best meet the customers’ needs and customers’ requirements (Nam & Lee, 2017). In every industry, the perception of the customer changes with time and with increased awareness and knowledge, the perception and demand for the product and services vary significantly. The same is the case with the UAE sports and fitness industry. Within the UAE, the perception of the customers has changed greatly with respect to the concept of health and wellbeing. The focus of people has increased greatly to improve their quality of life. Sports is not only perceived as the source of physical wellbeing, but it is also considered as a source of psychological wellbeing. Therefore, people seek services that can help them to get relax and to enjoy a relaxing and relishing environment that can enforce positive energy within them. This has also affected their demand for the product and service which can satisfy their psychological and physical needs. However, this has not much impacted the sports sector but has significantly affected the fitness sector (Lagrosen & Lagrosen, 2007).
With the increasing awareness and changing needs of the customers, the sports and fitness industry is required to bring changes in its product design. To remain competitive in the market, industry professional is required to level up their production and capabilities in order to cater to the current customer perception. Product and Service creation, in general, remains a multifaceted and important aspect of running a successful business (García-Fernández, et al., 2018). Catering to the different customer needs requires the sports and fitness industry to conduct research work, focus on different methods of engineering and design and using different and improved materials for a better product (Avourdiadou & Theodorakis, 2014).
1.2 Research Aims and Objectives
The aim of this study is to analyze the influence of customer perception of health and wellbeing and its impact on the product and service design on the fitness and sports industry. The objectives of this research study include;
- To analyze the importance of customer perception in the development of products and services.
- To investigate the customer's perception of health and wellbeing in the UAE region
- To examine the extent to which customer perception has an impact on the design and service of the sports and fitness industry.
- 1 What is the importance of customer perception in the development of products and services?
- 2 What is the customer’s perception of health and wellbeing in the UAE REGION?
- 3 How customer perception impacts on the design of products and services of the sports and fitness industry?
1.3 Research Questions
1.4 Significance of the study
Within UAE, the people have become more aware of their health. The people have made the health and wellbeing an essential part of their life. The latest results of the Global Cigna 360 Wellbeing survey have included UAE for the second consecutive year. This is the greatest evidence of the desire of the local population to desire a better and secure future and to take care of their health and wellbeing. Considering the level of concern, people have become aware of different aspects of wellbeing and health. Many people have proper knowledge about the sports and fitness products that they want to ensure a better and healthier life. Therefore, the need of the products and services from the fitness and sports industry has changed significantly (Arabian Business, 2018). The increasing trend amongst the customers in the sports and fitness industry has made the customers increasingly aware of the products and services that can best cater to their sports and fitness needs. It, therefore, has a significant impact on the design of the services and products. This requires the organizations that are working in the sports and fitness industry to become more aware of the changing needs of the customers and to investigate which product and service they require the most. Therefore, the sports and fitness organizations are required to conduct an in-depth investigation of the expectations of the customers, their subjective norms, their perceptions, their attitude, and perceived behavior when making a decision for the purchase of sports and fitness products and services (Zhang & Li, 2014). The consumers in UAE want to lead a happy and healthier lifestyle and are actively making efforts for it. In order to seek the health and wellbeing advice, the customers regularly seek help of the professionals. Most of them consult with their families and friends with respect to healthcare and wellbeing. The products and services are sought out either on the advice of the professionals or on the advice of the families and friends. Considering all the mentioned factors it has become necessary to investigate whether the customer perception about health and wellbeing impacts the design of the fitness and sports goods industry. There are many studies that have focused their attention on analyzing customer behavior, service quality and factors impacting consumer purchase intentions. There is very limited literature that is available on the influence of customer perception of health and wellbeing and its impact on the product design and service. Also, very limited literature is available in the UAE region concerning the impact of customer perception on the product and service design of the sports and fitness industry. Considering the limitation of the research work on this area, it was necessary to investigate the said topic. This study can add value to the already available literature and might lead towards providing insight specifically on the UAE region about the influence of customer perception on the product and service design of the fitness and sports industry.
1.5 Structure of the Dissertation
The dissertation is made on the following structure. This dissertation constitutes of five chapters which include
- Chapter One- Introduction: The first chapter is the introduction which includes the details about the background of the topic, the research questions and objectives and the significance of this research work.
- Chapter Two-Literature Review: The second chapter is a literature review. It is based on the available literature that has already been published on this topic. The information for this chapter has been taken from the published journal articles in order to ensure the authenticity of the material.
- Chapter Three- Methodology: In this chapter, detailed elaboration of the methods has been explained which has been adopted for conducting this research work. This chapter is based on providing insight into the details regarding the data collection and analysis method.
- Chapter Four- Results and Discussion: This chapter includes a discussion of results and its relevant interpretations. This chapter also entails a discussion of the results of the collected data.
- Chapter Five –Conclusion: This is the last chapter of the dissertation. This chapter includes the conclusion of the research sturdy.
Chapter Two: Literature Review
Customer perception plays significant importance in designing of any product or service. Customer perception contribute towards designing the product that can meet the needs of the customers. The sports and fitness industry has been observing for the past two decades. People have become much aware of their need for the products and services that they need to keep themselves active and healthy. The change in the perception of customer regarding wellness and health have changed over the time. The products, services and activities once were considered important for fitness have greatly become obsolete. This has caused the change in the product and service requirements amongst the customers.
2.2 Importance of customer perception in the development of products and services
According to Avourdiadou and Theodorakis (2014) Customers serves as the lifeblood for organizations. Customers are the kings and meeting their needs and demands is the prime responsibility of the organization. Designing products and services as per the needs of the customers is the prime requisite of every organization. Customer perception in this context plays pivotal role in retaining the old customers and attracting new customers. The companies therefore, are required to take into account a number of factors that contribute towards building customer perception (Avourdiadou & Theodorakis, 2014)
Nam and Lee ( 2017) mentioned that customer perception can be defined as the concept of marketing which includes the impression of the customers, consciousness and awareness about the offering of the company. Customer’s perception therefore, can be explained the perception of the customers about the organization. This perception has direct impact on attracting new customers and also impact the capacity of the organization for maintaining goodwill with the already existing customers. Customer perception plays significant role for the sports and fitness organizations. Customer perception in the current century has been predicted to overtake the precedence over the traditional competitive advantage features of the market such as usability, feature and the pricing. Therefore, for the companies, it has become necessary to take into consideration the customer perception and their related experiences. Ignoring customer’s perception might bring the company to the risk of failing in the market. Considering the increasing expectations of the customers, the organizations are required to take into consideration the perception of the customers in order to try and create positive customer experience (Nam & Lee, 2017).
2.2.1 Product and service strategy and the customer perception
According to García-Fernández, et al (2018) the product and services which the companies offer to its customers are designed generally according to the need and demand of the customers. The needs and demands of the customers are given prime importance and is considered as an important aspect of the business. For running a successful enterprise, creating a successful strategy for the development of the product is an important aspect and constitute a prime element of running a successful business. Successful product and service strategy requires a range of accompanying principles which includes marketing, design, research and development, materials, manufacturing and engineering. In a number of cases, it has been observed that, the product and service development strategy usually depends upon two main goals which includes keeping the product line and the new product and service in line with the overall objective of the organization and its marketing philosophy. It also depends upon establishing such a system that can evaluate the performance of the product. The evaluation of a successful product depends upon a number of factors which includes customer response, market acceptance, sales, profit and the current competition of product in the market (García-Fernández, et al., 2018).
Nam and Lee ( 2017) mentioned that the development of product and service is furthermore based on such criteria that helps in putting together a strategy which can help in determining whether a product needs to be discontinued, continued or modified. The development analysis therefore, should include the guidelines for the services and the products that are likely to be introduced in the market. In the situation, the organizations are working on the development of the product or service, it should be taken into consideration that the product and services contains more value as compared to that of the tangible goods. A product or service offering of the organization also included economic, technical, personal and legal relation between the seller and the customer. Moreover, there are a number of elements that are required to be considered in assessing the overall product performance which includes but are not limited to purchasing contract, product specification, prices and the interpretation of the customers about the organization (Nam & Lee, 2017).
According to Zhang and Li (2014)Consumers therefore, can evaluate the service and the product on several level. The products and services basic characteristics are inherent in their generic version and can defined in a number of benefits that it offer to its customers. The generic services and products can be designed to create distinction through adding value and the extra features which include performance enhancements and the product and service quality. The augmented properties of the product and service also constitutes the final level of consumer perception which includes less tangible benefits such as maintenance service, appealing payment options, customer assistance and training. The consumers values these benefits more during making the decision of purchasing certain product and services (Zhang & Li, 2014).
2.2.2 Marketing Strategy and the Customer and Product Perception
Avourdiadou and Theodorakis (2014) mentioned that Customer and product perception plays greater role in altering and changing the marketing strategy of sports and fitness organizations. The customer and product perception in the sports and fitness industry can forces the organization to make changes for addressing better customer needs, evaluating product lifecycle and assessing the needs for technological development (Avourdiadou & Theodorakis, 2014). The marketing strategy therefore, requires to keep into consideration the customer perception along with other external factors which are discussed below
- Technological Advances: The marketing strategy needs to consider the technological advances in order to meet the needs of the customers. Due to technological advances, there might be some products and services that can become endangers and might require a change in the entire service and product line. For instance, fiber optic cables can replace other cables in many areas of the businesses. Similarly, main frame computers have been substituted by the personal computers. Thus these changes have emerged in the market on the basis of customer needs and changes in the customer perception of the mentioned products. The organizations are therefore required to be aware of such advances in order to remain ahead in the market (Avourdiadou & Theodorakis, 2014)
- Preferences of the Customers
The consumer needs can be changed due to fluctuations in the cost of material, changing awareness of the brands and new application requirements of product or service. The organizations operating in the sports and fitness industry are therefore, required to keep a close track of the response of the customers for a certain product and are required to take into consideration the demands of the customer in order to maintain the market share (Zhang & Li, 2014)
- Laws and Regulations
The new governmental laws implementation can further impact the customer perception and can force the organizations to bring change in their marketing strategy. For instance, the laws and regulations regarding consumption of alcohol has contributed towards changing the customer’s perception and has led the companies to offer a range of other products and alter their current product offering (Anderson, 2019)
- Product Life Cycles
The organizations in order to preserve the growth rate in terms of sales and profits, introduce, alter or discontinue new products for replacing and changing older customer products. These changes in the sports goods and services are made periodically for allowing the existing product to reach to their maturity and to retain their appeal in the market (Zhang & Li, 2014).
2.3 Customer's perception of health and wellbeing in the UAE region
According to Rajan (2018) UAE serves as the main business hub for the UAE region. Since the people require to work hard than ever before for maintaining their life standards, the people have become more conscious of their health and wellbeing. For maintaining healthy balance between their work and social life, the people are placing more importance to their wellbeing and health and are focusing towards the innovative methods and ways that can help them to spend a happy and healthy lifestyle (Rajan, 2018).
Thompson (2014) mentioned that in UAE with increased knowledge and the information, the concept of health and wellbeing is understood in much broader scope as compared to just the management of diseases and exercising regularly. Wellbeing amongst the customers of UAE includes several dimensions such as emotional health, physical health, social connectedness, financial security, and character strength as well as the purpose. This view has become common amongst the UAE population and is well reflected in the expectations and demands of the well informed customers of sports and fitness industry of UAE. The customers in the UAE region are increasing focusing upon wellness and health initiatives to keep themselves in good shape and to improve their quality of life (Thompson, 2014).
In the work of vRemy-Miller ( 2017)In the UAE region, there has been observed a growing interest amongst the UAE residents to send a healthy and more active life style that can offer better quality of life to the customers. This has increased the demand of personal training sessions, gym memberships and other such sports and fitness services. In the UAE region, a combination of a number of factors such as better awareness about leading a healthy life, looking fit and active has also contributed towards increase in the social media content related to fitness and health. The people in the UAE region are therefore indicating much interest to seek help of the experts and the professionals (vRemy-Miller, 2017).
According to Gericke (2019) these are both the exciting and challenging time for the health and fitness industry as the people nowadays have increased awareness about the advantages they have for leading a healthy lifestyle. People have also become much aware of the product and service they require from the industry in order to keep themselves fit and active. In the UAE region, in the past five years, increasing interest in obtaining gym membership has been observed. With the amount of information available on social media, people have realized that their health and physical wellness is an essential part of their overall performance and wellbeing. People in general life circumstances are making more healthy decisions when it comes food consumption, selecting a sports activity or selecting a product and service that can help them to remain active and fit (Gericke, 2019). (khaleejitimes, 2020)In the past five years, the TV and social media have produced the content based on fitness and wellbeing in greater quantity for promoting the concept of proper nutrition and training. The people are therefore, much inclined to follow the path of the experts whom they admire the most. Furthermore, the initiative of the government such as 30:30 Fitness challenge which has been introduced by Sheikh Hamdan, the Chairman of Dubai sports Council and the Crown prince of Dubai have further contributed towards promoting and changing the perception of the people about health and wellbeing in the UAE region. This health and fitness initiative have strongly resonated with the UAE residents thus has contributed towards promoting a better, fit and healthy life style for the people. Corporate entities operating in the UAE have also taken interest and therefore, increasing trend has been observed by the companies to offer to its members the fitness perks such as offering gym membership to their employees and allocating specific sports hours in a month.
Almenhali (2019) mentioned that with the increase in knowledge of the customers about the health and fitness, their perception has changed greatly with respect to the products and service offerings in the UAE region. With the change in consumer perception functional training and high intensity training has greatly been in demand. However, at the same time, it has been observed that the proven traditional gym model is consistently well received amongst the UAE consumers. The customers are also increasingly seeking the customized training regimes where the personal trainers are required to devise the training programs for individuals on the basis of their current level of fitness, their goals respective to their age and interest. The customers are increasingly seeking the use of technological equipment in order to enhance the quality of their training (Almenhali, 2019).
Surge in the Health and Fitness Industry of UAE
Anderson (2019) noticed that UAE had the reputation for being inactive. The residents were presumed to enjoy a life that rather follows a lazy lifestyle with less focus and interest on health and wellbeing. However, with the increasing perception of the customers about health, fitness and wellbeing, UAE fitness market has experienced increased demand the in the health and fitness related products and services that can offer better life style to the people. UAE, as a state now perceives fitness and sports activities as the main source of addressing key challenges of healthcare of the region, including diabetes, obesity and other unhealthy lifestyle challenges. Considering these healthcare challenges, UAE government has become increasingly active in promoting the healthy life style amongst the people and to encourage them to become more active. The government have further introduced a number of fitness and sporting related events to promote healthy lifestyle amongst the people. This sparked enthusiasm amongst the residents of UAE have helped in attracting a large number of fitness and sports related startups. Thus with the increased in the fitness and sport industry investment opportunities, the startups also had to face many challenges to keep up with the changing demands of the customers. The customers have become more aware and conscious about the products and services they need in order to keep themselves active. This has increased the challenge for the sports and fitness companies to design the products and services that can meet the demands and needs of the customers in the UAE region (Anderson, 2019).
2.4 Customer Perception Has an Impact on Sports and Fitness Industry Outlook
Anderson (2019) has mentioned that with the change in the customer perception and the increased interest of the customers towards the sports and fitness, the UAE fitness market outlook has also changed. The increasing interest of the customers in the fitness and sports have opened many opportunities for the people in the market. Within the UAE region, the number of organized fitness service centers are expected to increase. As per the estimate, such outlets are expected to grow from 1400 outlets to 2022 due the penetration of the existing sports and fitness players such as Gold Gyms, Fitness First and Lifeline wellness (Anderson, 2019). Almenhali (2019) mentioned that the industry is also experiencing and increase in the fitness special classes in the upcoming two years. The customers demand for pilates and Zumba, martial arts and cross fit has also increased and is expected to experience a further rise in the next coming years. The region is also experiencing and increasing number of group exercise classes for the people of all ages and for both males and females. The trend of increasing number of new entrants in the market is further capitalizing the shift away from the gyms and techniques that were traditionally in practice. In this surge in the demands and needs of the customers, the new and old market players are increasingly experience the challenge to meet the changing customer needs especially in the environment where the customers have growing number of health and fitness options. According to Anderson (2019) the businesses operating in the health and fitness industry can no longer sell the products and services that are easy for them to design or sell. In the current situations, the business are required to provide the product and service keeping in consideration the customer standpoint and their needs, perceptions and customers’ expectations (Almenhali, 2019). The old players in the market, keeping into consideration the current surge in the needs and demands of the customers are further penetrating in to the areas such as meditations, salons, massages and wellness centers. The businesses are now actively seeking to design and produce such service and the related platforms that can cater the wellness and fitness related needs of the customers and to expand these services and products beyond their current expectations (Anderson, 2019).
Almenhali (2019) further mentioned in his work that the increased option of fitness and wellbeing centers have outdates the one size fit all approach of the gyms that were designed on the traditional products and service models. For being in the market, the companies are required to cater the customized customer needs with the addition of personal touch to the offered services and products. Therefore, for the sports and fitness industry of UAE, it has become increasingly necessary to design their products and services on two pillars that is accessibility and education. The firms and the professionals who are operating in the fitness and sports market are required to proactively educate themselves and their client about the ways they can integrate fitness and healthy lifestyle rather than following the traditional and old school schedules (Almenhali, 2019).
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Title: "SAUDI EFL STUDENTS’ PERCEPTION OF LEARNING ENGLISH THROUGH INFORMAL OUT-OF-CLASS LANGUAGE ACTIVITIES"
CH2 AND CH5
1 LITERATURE REVIEW
Language, like other academic disciplines aims at finding solutions for post-millennial state of current societies through shifting of traditionally-established paradigms. Competencies in English language have become a global necessity (Crystal, 2012). Its application in the learning process and work environment is a reflection of its importance as an international lingua franca. Several studies have highlighted how English language learning can make a positive contribution to the life of individual learners both locally and globally (Crystal, 2012). In the recent years, there has been a growing interest from many experts and researchers on the extent to which English language can create social integration (Crystal, 2012). The research interest in the area has been motivated by the growing population of English speakers among second and additional language users, surpassing the native speakers. The existing literature review examines a number of issues including English learning practices for non-native speakers, English as a global language, and English in Saudi Arabia.
The literature review first outlines the global growth of the English language then follows with an emphasis on learning English as a foreign language (EFL). This order has been chosen to specifically focus on the field and learning of English in Saudi Arabia. It considers literature about the impact of out-of-class activities on students in terms of EFL learning. Furthermore, the review concentrates on understanding the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of learners and their use of ‘out-of-class activities’ in the process of learning English in their daily lives. The review of the literature will also evaluate the approaches of learning English as a foreign language within the Saudi Arabian context in order to understand the possible implications of adopting out-of-class activities within the English language learning environment.
1.2. English as a Global Language
English language competency has become a necessity to almost everyone around the world due to its status as the international lingua franca. Crystal (2012) notes that English has earned its status as a global language: it is now recognised as the preferred language to acquire as a foreign or second language in around 70 nations worldwide including Nigeria, Ghana, India, Singapore, China, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Çelik and Aytin (2014) also note that around 400 million individuals communicate in English as their first language and that more than a combined total of one billion people use English as a foreign or second language. The spread of English as a global language has led to a situation where speakers of English as a second language outnumber speakers of English as a first language (Çelik&Aytin, 2014). This clearly demonstrates the importance of learning English to enhance an individual’s career (Mitchell &Alfuraih, 2017). Despite the similarities among humans such as shared values, there are significant variances in languages. The use of English as the standard language in most education programs and many career environments helps address the issue of language variances that makes communication at workplaces challenging. Several theories have been developed to explain the extent to which language unites societies.
The cosmopolitan theory has been applied in reference to the idea of human beings coexisting in a single community, the sociocultural backgrounds and affiliations notwithstanding(Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). This can be perceived from different perspectives such as moral norms and/or relationships, and shared markets, as well as in the form of cultural expressions, amongst others (Crystal, 2016). Some versions of the cosmopolitan theory envision a universal community of world citizens (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). These, however, vary according to the concept of the world citizenship that they imply. Thus the philosophical interest of cosmopolitanism lies in the challenge it poses to the common recognition of attachments that people have with one another, local states, and cultures that are shared parochially (among other aspects), hence its application in the use of English as a universal language (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016).
There are no doubts that common languages played significant roles in the historical formation of modern states. For example, Indonesia developed a common language known as Bahasa Indonesia to address its traditional multilingual culture. The language helped overcome the hundreds of languages that the people spoke when the nation was formed (Paauw, 2009). Hindi is another example. Prior to the independence of India, English was the official language used for administrative and higher education purposes. In 1946, the issue of national language was a sharply challenged subject in the procedures of the Constituent Assembly of India. Thisissue has been floating and unresolved for years. Eventually, a decision was made with Hindi in Devanagari script to be the official language of the union however the English Language continued to be used for all the official purposes of the nation for fifteen years after the commencement of the Constitution (Benedikter, 2009). Yet, current debates on the effects of globalization on nations hardly address the issue of language, other than it being regarded as a mere superficial aspect. This is despite the fact that the ever-soaring numbers of English speakers in the last few decades, as well as other changes with regard to the notion of global Englishes, can be seen to exhibit significant social implications for communication (Ives, 2009). According to Shaw (2016), most literature on globalization and cosmopolitanism neglects the implication of the English language on social integration. The findings, however, can be seen to go against the evident acceleration in transnational mobility, as well as the processes of globalization, coupled with the extensive use either of digital communication technologies that all work independently or collectively towards the generation of an unprecedented interconnection between people and places (Shaw, 2016). The challenges of globalization, digital communication technologies, and cosmopolitanism in terms of limited influence on the global population and their languages has necessitated the need for language experts of English to look into ways in which the changes in socio-cultural matrices can be applied to literacy studies pedagogically (Crystal, 2016). Therefore, a language like other academic disciplines may shift from traditionally established paradigms as well as the associated frameworks in order to establish answers for the post-millennial state that is the current situation (Crystal, 2016).
Shaw (2016) explores cosmopolitanism in the twenty-first century by addressing the ways through which its values can be applied in the provision of the academic content and acquisition of English. He affirms the importance of acknowledging traction in gains related to global learning in various curricular, ranging from primary to tertiary levels. Furthermore, Shaw (2016) argues that cosmopolitanism provides a direct response to ways of living in a society with others from different backgrounds to achieve cultural converge. From the author’s perspective, a common language can be developed from variety of languages through cosmopolitanism. Shaw (2016) further argues cosmopolitanism relates to the interdependence and interrelationships between people in the modern society. Global learning has influenced educational institutions to adjust their mission statements to capture their extensive commitments to global awareness, with the focus being on the English language. The focus on English language is due to its vast usage and potential to have the international community establish a common language (Shaw, 2016). Globalized learning also considers the conceptual framework guiding global learning activities, with close regard to its motives and ambitions (Crystal, 2016). It does this in recognition of the sociocultural dynamism of modern communities and the need to have a common language that unites the people from different cultural backgrounds.
The global learning of English can be perceived from various rationales, all directed to serve numerous possible ends (Shaw, 2016). For instance, the rationale for neo-mercantilism lays its emphasis on the global learning and teaching of English on vocational and market friendly perspectives that, nevertheless, are narrowly set (Shaw, 2016). The internationalist rationale envisages global learning and the teaching of English language being aimed at the cultivation of cross-cultural awareness as well as competencies (Shaw, 2016). All the rationales are essential for an approach that would see a realization of a larger ethical dimension in the new century where English language is continuously being embraced as lingua franca in most countries across the globe (Crystal, 2016). The extensive dimension can be attributed to the idea of English’s status as the most powerful language, and with measures to incorporate it in education curricula coupled with efforts by governments that back its establishment through policies that support its learning and development (Crystal, 2016).
Despite the widespread use of English as a lingua franca and an ever-growing number of EFL speakers, there are still challenges in communication among people from different countries. For instance, Saudi Arabians may still find it difficult to communicate in fluent English despite the language being recognized as the standard tool for communication in learning and work as well as other social environments (Khan, 2011). The increasing number of foreign workers and influence of globalization made it necessary for Saudi Arabia to embrace English as the common language for uniformity in communication (Khan, 2011). The difficulty is based on the fact that English is not indigenous to the country and as such not part of the culture (Khan, 2011). Crystal (2016) has highlighted that people utilise English as a foreign language, but that they can face difficulties to communicate with others competently. Dutta (2015) noted another concern, stating that people generally communicate through their national language within a particular country, however, in a global context people need to be familiar with English, as it is not only the main medium of exchange globally, but increasingly a medium of instruction (EMI). Therefore, English is a form of linguistic capital in the current global context.
1.2.2. Linguistic Capital
Linguistic capital is described as a form of cultural capital that involves the accumulation of an individual’s linguistic skills. The capital predetermines an individual’s position in the society. Flynn (2013) examined linguistic capital from the perspective of linguistic field for teachers who are not accustomed to linguistic differences. According to the study, a complex mix of experiences appeared to rely on assumed pedagogical norms and professionally assimilated external pressures. They argue that linguistic capital is a factor of assumed pedagogical norms that describe the way of life for a specific goal (Tosky King & M. Scott, 2014). External pressures such as immigration and emerging trends in the field of teaching English also present a significant influence on language teaching. Hannum and Cherng (2014) argued that linguistic capital as a component of a country’s dominant language helps in creating culturally competent country and effective interrelationships. According to the authors, linguistic capital plays a significant role in the process of social stratification and movements.
Moreover, linguistic skills are considered an important aspect of a linguistic capital (Tosky King & M. Scott, 2014). The skills are critical in the development of the linguistic capital of a population. A student’s linguistic capital captures their skills in writing, speaking, and listening to various languages. With respect to the English language in Saudi Arabia, the linguistic capital captures the skills that learners in the country possess with respect to the dominant language. In Saudi Arabia, the dominant language, which is Arabic makes a significant portion of the individual’s learners’ language acquisition process (Fang, 2011). The teaching of the English language contributes to the development of linguistic skills that support the learning process and acquisition of knowledge within and outside the classroom. The use of English as a medium of instructions in institutions of learning helps in building the Linguistic capital.
According to Sah and Li (2018), the English Medium of Instruction (EMI) within the framework of Nepali instruction did not seem to aid either content learning or English acquisition. The content teachers heavily relied on code-mixing and translation and used this approach ineffectively, as they were not trained enough to conduct their job well. Code-mixing is the process of mixing of two or more languages in a speech or scholarly work. The content teachers did not have enough time and expertise to teach the English language in content classes, which further disadvantaged the students in three ways: (1) their opportunities for interaction—which were significant for developing their critical thinking skills—were “silenced”; (2) they could not make full use of learning materials, like textbooks, to enhance the content knowledge; and (3) they could not express what they knew in their examinations, which were set in English, leading them to either fail or underperform. Therefore, the introduction of EMI was merely a strategy to sell the tag of EMI education in the linguistic market (Bourdieu, 1977) dominated by English as a lingua franca. This example reveals how language skills do not necessarily equate to linguistic capital as English language competency is more than just a set of skills such as grammar and vocabulary.
Moreover, teachers in bilingual and language learning settings may need to be conscious of the difference between linguistic capital and knowledge capital. For instance, sometimes students possess enough knowledge concerning the topic of discussion in a classroom but because of their lack of language ability, they cannot argue (Aliakbari&Khosravian, 2014). Therefore, there is need for English teachers to take the issue of linguistic capital and knowledge capital more seriously and understanding the difference for better teaching of EFL students.
Linguistic capital is a form of cultural capital that involves accumulation of skills related to a language. It is important in determining an individual’s position in the society. The linguistic capital of learners is affected by a number of factors. These factors influence the extent to which learners can acquire new language skills and communicate more effectively in a learning environment. As a first language, native English speakers build the specific language’s capital from the moment they start speaking or listening to words. For example, when EFL individuals develop the writing and speaking skills in the language, they develop the capital. However, in a country like Saudi Arabia where English is a foreign language, the development of linguistic capital may be complex. Therefore, the dominant or native language is the main factor that influences the development of linguistic capital in most societies (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). Arguably, the first language that one acquires may affect the learning process for other languages, and subsequently, the linguistic capital acquisition process. For instance, since Arabic is considered the native language for Saudi Arabians, the learning of English as a foreign language may be considered as an adoption of a different culture from the native one. (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). Teaching English to Saudi Arabian students affects the linguistic capital of the student population. The learners acquire the relevant skills that build their linguistic skills, positioning them for global opportunities related to work and other opportunities such as further studies.
The socio-cultural background of an individual also affects the development of the linguistic capital of an individual or group of learners. The socio-cultural environment defines the characteristics and behaviors of a population (Tosky King & Scott, 2014). It also influences social orientation. In an environment where English is not considered as the primary language, the social and cultural factors have a greater impact on the learning outcomes compared to other regions (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). For instance, Saudi Arabian students may find it difficult to build an expansive linguistic capital in English due to the influence of the social and cultural environment. Cultural practices define the behaviors of individuals, thereby affecting their learning experiences. For example, since the Saudi Arabians are culturally defined by Arabic as their native language, the learning of a foreign language may be challenging (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). The dynamism of the learning environment presents varied characteristics that affect individual learning behaviors (Tosky King & Scott, 2014). Most teachers recognize that diversity in the classrooms makes it difficult in teaching the English language. The cultural diversities create varying expectations and learning capabilities of learners in a classroom. While EFL may exhibit the interest to learn, EFL often exhibits poor attitude. This is due to the perception of English as a foreign culture. The diversity makes the teaching difficulty due to the variances in attitudes and interest in learning the language.
Moreover, linguistic capital is determined by the resources that a country provides to support the development and learning of a language among its students. These resources include teachers, learning materials and facilities, and financial support. The distribution of these resources may also affect the development of linguistic skills among the learners (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). Teachers play an important role as a resource in the learning of language. Particularly, in teaching English in countries where it is not the dominant language like Saudi Arabia, the teachers play a critical role in the development of linguistic capital through interactions between teachers and learners influencing the acquisition of linguistic capital over time. For instance, where there are regular interactions, students tend to learn English quickly (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). Saudi Arabian classrooms are generally teacher-centered and interactions are less regular. Additionally, the relationships and interactions with other students in the learning environment influence the accumulation of linguistic capital. In environments where there are expansive interactions among the learners, there is a fast-learning process, thereby affecting the acquisition of linguistic capital.
Although English has been adopted as a lingua franca in nearly all countries, it is considered foreign in several countries. The ability to fluently speak a foreign language influences the acquisition of linguistic capital. However, the learning process is more complex for the students who consider the language as foreign (Alhabahba, Pandian &Mahfoodh, 2016). The ability to speak good English may provide expansive linguistic capital in Saudi Arabia. It provides an edge in securing a job. Other scholars such as Bourdieu, (1977) have linked linguistic capital to human and cultural capital, symbolic capital, and economic capital.A good education is a factor of human and cultural capital and involves the employment of good teachers with the capacity to properly teach the language and help learners achieve better outcomes and acquire skills in speaking, listening, and writing (Tosky King & M. Scott, 2014). Gaining prestige through learning English is considered to be symbolic capital, which is critical in the development of linguistic capital in most countries that consider the language as foreign (Tosky King & M. Scott, 2014). The economic capital comprises the ability to secure a good job in multinational companies for well-paying salaries. The economic condition of the population also influences the development of linguistic capital in society. Saudi Arabia has positioned itself and declared itself in wanting to create an ideal environment to support education. Through the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to creating capital to support learning ("Full text of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030”, 2016). It is anticipated that students will have an ideal environment to learn English and become more competitive for job positions at the international level; thus, furthering Saudi Arabia’s standing globally.
The importance of learning EFL is increasing globally, which provides opportunities to individuals in developing their living standards (Enever et al. 2009). Enever et al. (2009) further provide an example continental Europe, where parents are so anxious for their wards to develop a competitive advantage that they encourage mandatory learning of EFL from a young age, and even pay for extra classes outside the regular curriculum. The global growth of international schools can also attest to this, including in the Middle East (Reid and Ibrahim, 2017).
1.3. Learning English as a Foreign Language
Learning and teaching English can be different in terms of the context and students’ composition and cultural backgrounds. Different approaches are used in different contexts according to the literature. To begin with, it is vital to explore the difference between English as a second language (ESL) and English as a foreign language (EFL). ESL is teaching or learning English in an English speaking country where the learning process occurs among different learners from varied backgrounds. In comparison, EFL is the teaching or learning of English in a non-English speaking country where the first language takes precedence and where English is not commonly used (Wright, 2010). This section discusses the motivation, literary sponsors, and pedagogy as relevant items in learning a foreign language. It is important to understand the motivation behind learning a foreign language in countries that considers English as a second language. As previously highlighted, globalization and technological improvements are making it necessary that ESL learn English as a foreign language.
In terms of motivation, EFL learners usually have a low intrinsic motivation level. According to Brown (2001), students may often study the English language as a compulsory part of the curriculum; it may not seem like a part of their daily lives. EFL students often do not have enough chances to practice English in their daily lives and despite the fact that they might have the same reasons to learn English, their lack of motivation can endure because its application in their daily life is minimal (Krieger, 2012). In comparison, ESL students are more likely to have higher intrinsic motivation. By being in the target language of the community, they have a wide range of opportunities to use English throughout their daily lives (Krieger, 2012).Other motivating factors that impact the efficiency of EFL delivery is the influence of a students’ native language and attitudes towards the English language (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). Partnerships between teachers and/or instructors with the government’s efforts to promote the learning of English as a foreign language should be synchronized in order to allow an easy flow of directives to facilitate what works, and the readjustment of what doesn’t work in teaching, and the learning of students (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014).Students often become unmotivated by teaching procedures, which as of late have become an increasing concern, notably amongst EFL students (Al-Khairy, 2013). The students’ lack of interest in the learning process may imply that they may not understand how important it is to gain English as a skill. Al-Khairy (2013) suggests a solution to this concern stating that motivating learners can visibly increase the outcome of any teaching approach. If this is in fact true, then understanding how English is acquired is critical.
In an ESL context, Krieger (2012) notes students are eager to learn English for personal reasons, to communicate with a variety of people from other countries for instance, or to get a better job for professional reasons. Additionally, EFL classes often include large numbers of students and a limited amount of time, which makes learning English more of a challenge (Al-Asmari& Khan, 2014). Differences among EFL learners then emerges through other factors, such as literacy sponsors.
220.127.116.11. Literacy sponsor
Literacy sponsorship has attracted a different understanding from various scholars. Deborah Brandt defines it as “any agent local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, model, recruit, regulate, and suppress literacy to gain an advantage of it in some way.” It covers the structures and systems that are in place to support or prevent the advancement of literacy among a population. Literary sponsorship is also critical in the development of reading and understanding of a language (Brandt, 2001). In learning the English language, it involves the structures and support systems that help learners develop linguistic capital in the English language.
The method and practice of teaching the English language is also an important aspect of learning the language, particularly for ESL learners. Brown (2001) states that “it is useful to consider the pedagogical implications for a continuum of contexts ranging from high visibility, ready access to the target language outside the language classroom to no access beyond the classroom door” (p. 116). In each situation, various approaches are utilized to address the students’ needs due to the different language contexts in which learning English is being undertaken (Brown, 2001). Access to the target language outside the common classroom and its application outside the context of the classroom is also important. The method of teaching English, particularly for the EFL learner has a significant impact on the learning outcomes. The variances in context within which the language is taught affect the acquisition of skills that contribute to the accumulation of linguistic capital. For instance, in countries where the English language is foreign, most students are unlikely to show interest compared to a situation where the language is taught in an environment where it is considered a first language. The differences relate to its necessity in different areas such as workplaces and social gatherings. Therefore, it is important to understand the teaching and learning context.
18.104.22.168. Whole Language Approach
In line with the guiding principles of the whole language approach proponents of this approach opine that its characteristics are intertwined with each other in terms of functionality (Al-Asmari and Khan, 2014). The argument is that students should be provided with the opportunity to utilize all aspects of language such as listening, writing, talking, and reading simultaneously in the realization of meaning, functionality, and cooperation in their activities (Al-Asmari and Khan, 2014). This is because such activities revolve around topics borne from students’ prior knowledge and interests. In the application of the whole-language approach in learning English as a foreign language, contextualized language obtained from student engagement in projects, portfolios and from observation is employed in the determination of realistic perspectives of student language, rather than the use of standardized tests as proposed by the skill-based approach (Al-Asmari and Khan, 2014). Under the skill-based approach to learning the English language, the emphasis is placed on the acquisition of listening, speaking, and writing skills. The approach proposes a standardized approach where learners are guided based on predetermined guidelines or curricula. Thus, the skills-based approach arguably does not produce linguistic capital where the whole language approach may better approximate this outcome.
22.214.171.124. Skills-based approach
The skills-based approach to learning English is mostly preferred since it considers the prior knowledge of students, which facilitates their understanding, subsidizes behavioral problems, boosts the self-esteem of students by way of indulging bilingual students in curricula that is centered on them, and advances the acquisition of skills (Al-Asmari and Khan, 2014; Richards, 2014). The approach, however, is not easy to implement, besides being constrained by overestimations of foreign language students of English abilities to choose and monitor what they learn; and the expectation of EFL students to simultaneously learn all aspects of English from the very beginning, given that it is a new language; as well as the lack of guidelines in the various curricula used to teach English as a foreign language (Al-Asmari and Khan, 2014). Following the consideration of the operability of both approaches, concerning their merits and demerits, a comprehensive approach must be used that combines both skills and meaning while moving towards the complete integration of skills in language (Al-Asmari and Khan, 2014).
The skill-based approach draws its theoretical roots from behavioral psychology and structural linguistics (Al-Asmari& Khan, 2014). It is founded on principles such as the whole being equal to the sum of its parts and the existence of differences between the spoken and written forms of language; the development of literacy being preceded by the acquisition of oral language; learning being centered on teachers and oriented on facts; and the elimination of student errors (Al-Asmari& Khan, 2014). It has also been opined that the skill-based approach is relatively easy to implement owing to its provision of a systematic strategy whose non-complex structure is easy to adhere to, as well as the use of guide materials for use across all levels.
According to Richards (2014), a skilled-based approach to teaching English can be both controlled and semi-controlled. Being controlled implies that the learning or teaching process takes a predetermined approach with specified guidelines and standards of teaching (Richards, 2014). That is, learners are expected to follow specific procedures in their learning. It takes a more formal approach to learning. The whole language approach, on the other hand, is not controlled. The teachers cover a wide range of practices, some of which may not be documented or standardized (Richards, 2014). The teachers’ role in the process is to apply practices that help the learners acquire most skills and learn the language more effectively. In both controlled and non-controlled systems of skilled-based and whole-language approaches, students have an obligation to acquire the skills that cover different aspects of learning. This introduces the need for a comprehensive approach towards teaching and learning the language.
126.96.36.199. Comprehensive Approach
The comprehensive approach entails a shift in the teaching of EFL from being closely controlled to semi-controlled. It provides a broader view of the learning process where students’ learning process captures both in-classroom and outside classroom activities.It also involves activities that are centered on the students in all the lessons both at primary and secondary levels (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). These activities can also be seen to shift from the assessment of micro-skills to full comprehension and production of complete texts in its application in teaching, correction of errors, and assessments in every lesson. Therefore, teachers impart secondary skills such as fluency with the essential language skills at the primary level such as spelling, pronunciation, grammar, and sentence structures (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). It creates the need for adoption of a strategy for implementing a comprehensive approach towards learning English among ESL students.
A comprehensive strategy is critical in helping learners acquire skills and build their social capital. The approach’s emphasis on activities that are student-directed, tolerance of errors, and assessments (group, self and peer) enable teachers to integrate essential language skills and subsidiary skills in language at the secondary level, with all language skills being integrated at university level (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). It enables EFL students at the university level to be in a better position to bridge the output of higher education with any prevailing market needs, thereby improving their motivation to learn the language. This is because of the expansiveness of the language they have acquired for the work environment. The teaching process also focuses on imparting the relevant skills that help students cope with market needs.
Vocabulary is an important aspect of delivery, irrespective of the approach that an instructor chooses to use. Vocabulary should also be developed gradually subject to the complexity and the necessity of self-expression. This is because vocabulary is an integral part of learning the main language skills. Vocabulary builds on and improves EFL learners’ understanding of a language (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). Learning vocabulary is important in enhancing one’s proficiency in understanding both written and oral communication (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). Therefore, teachers should ensure they incorporate vocabulary as an aspect of their delivery strategy in all the approaches. There is also a need for consideration of the learners’ attitudes and perceptions in teaching strategies.
Al-Yaseen (2014) has affirmed that although the learning processes help to enhance the knowledge of students through different activities such as discussion, projects, and presentations, the outcome largely depends on the students’ attitude towards the procedure. The attitudes will influence the approach that teachers take in teaching ESL students the language. One of the negatives that can influence the learning process is the embarrassment felt by students in expressing their difficulties. EFL students often feel embarrassed to express their views, which reduces transparency within the communication process with the teacher (Smadani&Ibnian, 2015; Garrett, 2008). To improve student attitudes, knowledge of the language and possess proper skills for communicating students is important for the teachers and instructors.
Knowledge of the language and proper communication skills are critical to students’ success and improvement in students’ attitudes. English and Marr (2015) assert that communication between teachers and learners is, without a doubt fundamental in teaching. The interaction enhances knowledge acquisition through experiences and fast-hand learning in discussions and presentations. It assists learners to develop an interest in learning the language based on experiences from teachers. Therefore, to be able to communicate effectively, “Teachers must know how to structure their own language output for maximum clarity and have strategies for understanding what students are saying - since understanding student conversation is key to analysis of what students know, how they understand, and what teaching moves would be useful” (p. 5). It introduces the concept of a learner-centred approach where teaching focuses on the specific needs and circumstances of the learner.
188.8.131.52.Learner-centred Approach and Barriers
Unlike other scholars who delved into the learning approaches, English and Marr (2015), have depicted the learner-centered approach as the most effective in EFL teaching primarily because the students can freely interact with the teachers. This simultaneously influences them to strengthen their learning experience beyond the classroom environment. According to Khan (2011), learning barriers such as psychological, cultural, motivational, social, attitudinal and parental can be determined as common factors, which also slow down the learning process. Garrett (2008) notes that another barrier is that English teachers in some nations are not native speakers and that their competence is seldom above average as they are not fully proficient in the English language. The effectiveness of a student-centred approach requires cooperation between teachers and learners. It creates a new approach that teachers can embrace, which is cooperative learning.
184.108.40.206.Cooperative Learning Approach
Based on these aspects, Al-Yaseen (2014) has depicted cooperative learning methods as another essential method in EFL learning. The cooperative learning approach promotes the acquisition of the English language among ESL students by helping them become more confident in producing and using the language when working in small learning or study groups. It allows students to acquire new learning methods through observations from their peers and teachers. Additionally, the approach requires the grouping of learners of all abilities and levels of study. English language teachers should emphasize the contribution of all group members in equal measure for an optimal outcome. Cooperative learning also focuses on group studies and learning with the aim of sharing ideas and experiences in the learning process. Through the cooperation in learning and teachers’ support, students develop skills such as communication, writing, and critical thinking that helps in developing linguistic capital.
Khan (2011) has stated that adopting new learning approaches such as cooperative learning, student-centered, and comprehensive approach for English has become an effective activity in the world, specifically for the people who utilize English as a foreign language. Concentrating on EFL learners, and implementing appropriate learning approaches is the most effective way of creating the motivation for the EFL students to learn. The approach that a teacher takes has a significant influence on their motivation towards learning the language. For instance, a student-centered approach allows the participation of students, thereby creating the motivation to know more. Alrashidi and Phan, (2015) highlighted cooperative learning methods as the most preferred approach because it includes communicating with others to enhance one’s abilities. In a study conducted in a Turkish university with 66 EFL students, Mitchell and Alfuraih (2017) found that a cooperative learning strategy positively affected learners' attitudes toward English learning over traditional instruction approaches. In China, Ning (2013) examined the influence of cooperative learning strategies on EFL college students in comparison with traditional learning methods. The result of the study demonstrates that “The CL [cooperative learning] approach was more effective than traditional instruction in improving students’ overall social skills” (p. 564). Social skills are important in cooperative learning and interaction of students in different ways (Al-Yaseen, 2014). Through social interactions, peer and group influence increases the motivation levels. It also supports sharing ideas and experiences that are critical components of social skills.
Variances in the use of English language for communication and application in teaching create complexities in the approaches. The skills-based approach has been criticized, however, due to huge discrepancies in both the way language is taught and how it is used in communication; and also because of the difficulties associated with teaching language as a collection of isolated skills, because the brain cannot store fragments of information for long periods of time (Anderson, 1984). In addition, the students are given a passive role that can lead to independent learning skills being left underdeveloped (Al-Asmari& Khan, 2014). Besides, when presented in the form of isolated skills, language learning is very time consuming, thereby causing both the teachers and students to divert time away from the engagement of activities that can also facilitate the acquisition of language (Mitchell and Alfuraih, 2017), for instance, out-of-class activities. Despite these shortcomings the skill-based approach is the most widely used international method (Huang, 2013). This can be attributed to the fact that its programs have been sanctioned by higher educational authorities and also by the curricula of various countries (Huang, 2013). In addition, in part, this is a result of some teachers’ resistance to the adoption of new approaches (Huang, 2013)
220.127.116.11.Strategies for Developing Oral Communication Skills
Some studies have established that parents have devised strategies for developing oral communication skills. The skills are critical in the learning of first language as the children grow into adulthood and recognize their cultures (Bardhan&Orbe, 2014). The same strategies are often used in the teaching and learning of foreign languages. According to Bardhan and Orbe (2014), imitation is the first step towards language acquisition among children, upon the attachment of meaning to these words, children start using them more frequently, and repeat them when practicing. This echoes the importance of actually using the acquired language through frequent skills acquired to facilitate their meaningful use in speech (Al-Asmari& Khan, 2014). This highlights the second stage of the acquisition of language, which is repetition. This builds recognition of the language used subject to frequency (Bardhan&Orbe, 2014).
The establishment of formulaic speech is the next step in learning a new language. This is achieved when learners apply short phrases attached to their day-to-day life situations through activities such as salutations (among other expressions) hence the emphasis on the repeated use of speech in the acquired language. The final stage in the acquisition of a new language is its incorporation (Bardhan&Orbe, 2014). This holds the premise of the acquired language being used repeatedly and repetitively through guidance in the sequence of the elements that have already been established. This consequently leads to the recognition of the principles guiding the use of the language (Bardhan&Orbe, 2014).
Learning is a process that involves the interaction between different activities. The concept of gaming is a critical strategy to the learning process. Notably, in learning or teaching the English language, gaming plays a major role. Teachers or instructors use different approaches to introduce gaming in the learning process. It captures the out-of-class activities that help the learners to develop their language literacy more efficiently and at a fast pace. The out-of-class activities help in creating an environment where the learners can interact and share ideas. Additionally, it facilitates the learning process as slow-learners get an opportunity to learn from the fast-learners. It promotes the accumulation of linguistic capital.
Language is thereby regarded as a collection of separate skills, each of which is further divided into smaller sections of skills (Al-Asmari& Khan, 2014). The skills are taught and/or acquired through sequences that are predetermined by way of direct elucidation, modeling, and repetition. Teachers and/or instructors in building skills should also employ methods such as the constant use of discrete-point tests of the sub-skills before the learners can advance to the next level (Huang, 2013). The discrete-point testing approach has been advanced by its proponents owing to the ease with which it makes the learning process a result of teaching language as isolated skills (Huang, 2013). This has been purported to save students from having to deal with the complexities that language, especially foreign ones, entail. It has also been said to reduce the error rate in students’ overall proficiency. The approaches creates the need to explore in-classroom strategies that teachers can use in teaching English language to ESL students.
Several practices are adopted in teaching language. Teachers use story-telling sessions, debates, and writing competitions to help learners acquire linguistic skills and develop their linguistic capital. Through the debate sessions, the students get an opportunity to interact and develop argumentative skills that are relevant in developing the English skills among the ESL students in Saudi Arabia. Other activities such as story-telling sessions, are also important for the learning process. It assists the students in learning through participation, observation, and interaction. They get the opportunity to acquire fast-hand experiences that boost the learning process. The development of reading and speaking skills is supported by the experiences through the activities. Therefore, teachers should implement gaming strategies that will make learners participate and learn more effective for the development of linguistic capital. In the learning of the English language in Saudi Arabia, the gaming strategies are expected to yield positive outcomes. The strategy may be limited considering the varying learning capabilities of students, creating a need for out-of-classroom strategies.The out-of-class activities make an important aspect of the English language learning process, particularly among the English Second Language students in countries such as Saudi Arabia. Second language development that occurs while playing and interacting with a digital game must not only be useful in the game itself. Rather, the learner-centric nature of game-based learning can facilitate the transfer of linguistic constructions to other contexts. Scholz and Schulze (2017) suggested that the language observed in the gaming environment is indeed transferable to non-gaming contexts. Regardless of the trajectories of gameplay in which each learner participates, second language development will occur.
The learning and teaching approaches, and motivational factors are critical components of learning the English language, particularly for EFL. Since this study intends to explore how engaging in out-of-class activities influences Saudi EFL students to learn and/or improve the English language, it is important to shed light on English as a Foreign Language in Saudi Arabia, because context is critical to shaping not only motivation to learn but also opportunity. The next section reviews the use of English in Saudi Arabia in the context of classroom teaching and learning.
1.4. English in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has evolved rapidly since 1925, incorporating socioeconomic and political changes of enormous scope and scale. The preliminary objective of introducing EFL into Saudi Arabian schools and institutes is to facilitate these changes, to help the youth of the nation learn English in order to further develop their knowledge and abilities (Al Nooh& Mc-Pherson, 2013). Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ states that the government is focused on the development of the education system so that the younger generation will enjoy higher quality and multi-faceted education. The government intends to invest in the development of early childhood education, refine curricula, and train teachers and educational leaders to better fulfill the needs and goals of establishing a leading nation. The Saudi vision 2030 seeks to build a bridge between higher education outputs and market needs. Also, it aims to have at least five Saudi universities placed within the top 200 international educational institutions by 2030 ("Vision 2030”, 2016). This is indeed a worthy goal and one that needs to be fulfilled, but as of yet,there are several hurdles to overcome.Samadani and Ibnian (2015) state that there are numerous issues faced by the education system in Saudi Arabia, primarily due to the lack of proper learning approaches or methods in the teaching of English.
Rahman and Alhaisoni (2013) have stated that in Saudi Arabia, English is currently considered a major subject to be undertaken by younger generations. The need is based on the advancement in technologies and globalization that allow people to work anywhere. With the advancement of technologies, opportunities have been enhanced, for which younger generations have mostly concentrated on learning English so that they can communicate. For example, the advent of social media has created a platform where people from different cultural backgrounds and countries can socialize. It makes a common language such as English an important part of learning. Liton (2012) has highlighted the current situation of Saudi Arabia as shown by the Saudi Ministry of Education. The educational system (Table 1) has mainly concentrated on the progress of EFL teaching/learning processes, especially in the primary, intermediate and high school years. However, the process indicated comparatively less progress in higher education areas (Liton, 2012).
Table 1: Educational Levels and Grades in Saudi Arabia
Grades Included in the LEVEL
Elementary (Primary) School
From Grade 1 to Grade 6
From grade 7 to Grade 9
Secondary (high) School
From Grade 10 to Grade 12
Since 1953 English language had been compulsory for grade seven students and above in Saudi Arabia in recognition of the fast-changing world (Rahman &Alhaisoni, 2013). With the increase in demand for learning English, Alsobaei and Alanzi (2014) note that the government has now declared the language a compulsory subject from the fourth grade, as students require a longer period of time to become more proficient.
1.4.1. Learning English in Saudi Arabia
According to Asmari (2013), learning a foreign language differs from learning one’s mother tongue, because applying new EFL teaching methods to inspire the students is more important. The differences depend on the approach, strategies, and cultural backgrounds. While one’s first language can be learned automatically through imitation, foreign languages require teaching where specific strategies and approaches are adopted. In the Saudi Arabian context, Samadani and Ibnian (2015) have affirmed that the education system mainly concentrates on developing knowledge of the English language amongst learners so that they can utilize the language to enhance their careers in the future. Other studies have indicated that the students can enhance their abilities by utilizing language to communicate with others even within society, rather than using their native language (Samadani&Ibnian, 2015; Asmari, 2013). However, the students often get inadequate chances to utilize the English language in the external environment, which is another challenge for students in increasing their interest in learning English. Liton (2012) has suggested an effective solution to improving the motivation levels of EFL students in learning English. Some of the strategies proposed include the use of technology, an example being audio-visual aids that should be promoted in EFL classrooms in Saudi Arabia as they can motivate learners by increasing their participation rates, concentration levels, and enthusiasm in learning the language (Liton, 2012).
Alsobaei and Alanzi (2014) have highlighted certain limitations faced by the education system in Saudi Arabia, which in turn can develop into barriers that affect the development of the learning process. These limitations include less focus on EFL compared to primary language, teacher-centric learning processes that reduce interaction and discouraging students to become conversant in English from an early age. The cultural backgrounds orient children to their first languages from an early stage. As such, the teaching of English in these environments may be challenging. These factors have become of increasing concern for the Saudi Arabian education system. Liton (2012) has countered this statement by stating that the government is continuously focussed on reducing these factors within the education system which implies that, although the government has taken the initiative to develop the overall EFL teaching-learning process, the students and teachers must also concentrate on such factors as well. Teachers and students are directly involved in the process through the provision of direction and acquisition of skills. It makes focus on the factors important in achieving better outcomes. This focus will help the nation to create a higher level of achievement for Saudi Arabian EFL students in the international context.
1.4.2. Barriers to EFL in Saudi Arabia
Even though the country’s administration recently viewed the English language as an essential component of its education curriculum, the challenges still remain. The remaining of the challenges is due to the fact that the country’s main language is Arabic, and as an Islamic country, the use of the Quran makes Arabic of central importance to the nation’s social, religious and cultural life. This importance sees the English language not being given significant attention at the commencement of formal education, and it may well be seen as a threat to the culture of Saudi Arabia. These factors indicate the need to adopt new or innovative teaching approaches, which will motivate students to learn English (Al Nooh& Mc-Pherson, 2013).
Based on the above factors it seems fair to note that the students’ lack of commitment might not solely be their fault alone. Teachers do not encourage the students to utilize the language outside of academic activities; this, in turn, limits the language proficiency of the students and influences their learning. Al-Seghayer (2014) has reported that students in Saudi Arabia struggle to learn the English language mainly due to a lack of interest because of their cultural or social backgrounds, where English does not play a major role. This concern is evidenced in most institutes, where teachers report students’ low motivational levels in learning EFL (Al-Seghayer, 2014).
Another underlying issue highlighted by Al-Nasser (2015) is a lack of prior preparation of the students, which culminates in low proficiency levels. Due to the lack of motivation, students hardly ever prepare for class, and this proves detrimental to their other endeavours. Thus, Al-Nasser (2015) suggests teachers must help learners by enhancing and stating the importance of EFL learning, which can help develop their interest, as well as assist them in gravitating towards the teaching-learning process.
1.4.3. Limitations to Learning English and Opportunities in Saudi Arabia
Rahman and Alhaisoni (2013) stated that the education system in Saudi Arabia still has certain limitations, which need to be overcome to reach the desired outcomes. The limitations relate to cultural factors, national identity, attitudes and beliefs of students towards the language. Most Saudi students would prefer Arabic as the language of national identity (Samadani Al &Ibnian, 2015). This is because they consider as part of their culture and abandoning the language would imply abandoning their cultural identity. Additionally, the attitudes and beliefs of students towards English language also influence its teaching and learning. For most students, it is viewed as a Western language and its learning would imply embracing the Western culture while abandoning the native Arabic culture. Several studies have concentrated on the economic context, which have affirmed that developing EFL within society will enhance the opportunities of business involvement and other commerce - such as tourism - in the respective nations (Al Nooh& Mc-Pherson, 2013; Rahman &Alhaisoni, 2013) but clearly have not fully considered the barriers and limitations related to identity. Al Nooh& Mc-Pherson (2013), have emphasised that the students need to understand the importance of learning in order to gain interest towards the language. This creates a pedagogical approach towards the language.
1.4.4. Pedagogy in Saudi Arabia
According to AlNooh& Mc-Pherson (2013), the education system must concentrate on interactive sessions through which the teachers will communicate with the students and provide them with the necessary information. They argue that of those approaches implemented in Saudi Arabian institutes that cooperative sessions, interactive sessions and practical activities are the most effective examples of the teaching-learning process. Rahman and Alhaisoni (2013) have highlighted that another important dynamic is applying these approaches appropriately within the education process to attain an acceptable outcome. The studies also address the contribution of government programs and policy in the teaching and learning. According to a report presented by Rahman and Alhaisoni (2013), the Saudi Ministry of Education seeks to ensure improvements in learners’ aural, reading, writing and oral skills. The ministry continually assists students in their endeavours to acquire the necessary linguistic know-how to be able to effectively function in the target language. Allamnakhrah (2013) has argued that these objectives address the challenges evident within the Saudi Arabian academic context due to rote learning. Although rote learning might seem an effective tool, it can negatively affect the effectiveness of learning and the evaluation abilities of the students (Allamnakhrah, 2013).
Moreover, the education system - in regards to EFL learning - typically depends on textbooks and teaching materials in the form of modules, which also have a significant impact on English language learning in Saudi Arabia. It takes a skill-based approach towards the language learning and teaching. The reliance on textbooks and other teaching materials helps in the acquisition of skills by the learners. The teachers’ frustrations are compounded by the students’ inability to acquire a basic know how. The students do not concentrate on English learning from primary school level, whereas the teaching materials do not provide transparent objectives to the learners, thereby limiting their capability of learning English language. The lack of the students’ concentration and interest in learning English and the lack of providing clear objectives by teaching materials have significantly affected the development of the Saudi Arabian education system (Allamnakhrah, 2013). In this regard, Rahman and Alhaisoni, (2013) have further blamed syllabus designers for an absence of knowledge regarding the inclusion of appropriate concepts in a sequence that students can easily use to develop their knowledge, and, furthermore, that the teachers can teach well by being able to follow an established EFL teaching-learning process.
Therefore, limiting the use of the English language to classroom activities has the potential to reduce the effectiveness of any EFL learning process, which can create significant challenges for the nation in the long run (Chen, 2014). Since most students cannot comprehend the language properly and have generally developed negative attitudes, teachers include Arabic, the first language of Saudi Arabia in the class activities as well (Alhomaidan, 2015), allowing code-switching. In a quantitative study carried out comprising of 60 full-time tertiary students using experimental and control groups, the results were rather disappointing. The respondents in the 19 to 22-year age bracket had spent the previous six years before college in different learning institutions. However, as all were Arabic speakers, the only time they used English was during formal class time. As a result, their understanding of the language was limited to the classroom environment, and they could hardly communicate outside of that setting (Alhomaidan, 2015).
Exposure to the English language is another reason why competence continues to prove difficult to achieve for a majority of Saudi Arabian students. Therefore, there is a need to consider alternatives such as out-of-class learning. Contextually, Rahman and Alhaisoni (2013) assert that students can easily develop their own knowledge through exposure. Focusing on the external environment, English learning can be developed through several mediums, such as through social media, or by watching TV shows, to name but a few (Mitchell &Alfuraih, 2017). However, if the students’ perceptions remain negative the teachers’ efforts might not have a significant impact regardless of their persistence. Rahman and Alhaisoni (2013) reported that despite having televisions, newspapers and books with English content, many students seldom utilised them. Therefore, the challenges faced by English learning are somewhat complex (Rahman &Alhaisoni, 2013).
To summarise, it is argued that EFL in Saudi Arabia has not been fully embraced; however, the issues that are continuously affecting the education system need to be overcome to increase the effectiveness of the process. Several studies have been conducted on evaluating the learning process; however, there is a lack of alternative methods or processes for which further research can assist. Out of class activities have been identified to be critical in the English language learning process.
1.5.Out-Of-Class Activities for Language Learning
There are a number of advantages in utilising out-of-class activities because they are likely to develop the language learning ability of students. According to Guo (2011), learning out of the classroom develops a bridge between studying English and its application. In addition, moving beyond the curriculum of the traditional English classroom learning can expand the study environment of students and help them explore new areas of interest, along with developing knowledge in English (Benson, 2013).
According to Hyland (2004), teaching English has increasingly become a subject of discussion in terms of how it can be taught in a manner that is not only restricted to the classroom but evolves beyond it. Barnawi and Al-Hawsawi (2017) state that different factors determine the capacities of learners to expand their efforts and to encourage them to learn a language more effectively. These include the use of technologies such as Web 2.0, television, and radio, as well as motivating the students to read newspapers and novels (Obeid, 2017; Lai & GU, 2011; Pickard, 1996).
Cortina-Pérez and Solano-Tenorio (2013) argue that language learning through out-of-class activities has not received enough research attention, especially within EFL contexts. Benson (2013) considers out-of-class learning as an autonomous interaction with available resources to self-direct an individual's learning. It involves learning using tools outside the class environment such as fieldwork. Out-of-class learning covers self-instruction, direction, and natural learning. Under self-instruction, the language learners develop plans to enhance their learning outcomes. Guo (2011) commented that self-instruction requires language learners to search for resources that would assist and guide them to learn English more effectively. For instance, the use of grammar books can improve the quality of language learning (Hyland, 2004) but perhaps not its application. Natural learning involves students learning from the field experiments and provisions of nature. It does not require instruction or direction from teachers. Instead, there is self-instruction and direction in the learning process.
Another form of out-of-class activity is Naturalistic Language Learning. This kind of learning is based on communication among learners of English (Hyland, 2004). It differs from natural learning in the sense that the former requires experimental exercises. Guo (2011) highlighted that interacting among classmates is an effective technique to improve English. The third category is Self-Directed Naturalistic Language Learning, which requires learners to identify and/or seek out a situation that can develop their language (Briggs, 2015). Hyland (2004) commented on the effectiveness of Self-Directed Naturalistic Language learning stating that students create a learning situation, but, "may not focus directly on learning the language while they are in that situation" (p. 183). The use of English newspapers for gaining information on daily activities instead of learning activities are highlighted as an example (Hyland, 2004)
In attempting to examine the types of activities that were integrated by teachers of English, Hyland (2004) sought to find out which activities were the most successful along with the beliefs that these teachers had regarding the use of strategies targeting English learning out of the classroom. He used a quantitative study to survey a sample of 238 students who were studying education with a focus on the English language. The study found that only 16.7% of those who had participated were of the view that English played a significant role in their daily lives outside the classroom. What this means is that the large majority of students learning English did not feel the need to learn the language or have the requisite chance to use their language skills outside the school environment Hyland, 2004), which might be the case among the Saudi learners. The study found that most of the activities the participants engaged in did not involve direct interaction with others. Writing emails, reading academic books, and surfing the internet were the most common activities among the participants where they directly interacted with the English language. Academic books with global audiences are developed in English, making it necessary for the EFL learner in Saudi Arabia to understand the language for a proper understanding of the contents of the books. Additionally, most information on the internet is available in the English language, although there are provisions for translations into other languages such as Arabic. Mohammadi and Moini (2015) found similar results for students in Iran who also engage in daily activities such as surfing the internet. In addition to this, they did find that every use of English text, such as that on different products like food packages and clothing tags, could be beneficial for learning at least one English word.
Several authors have noted activities that open up possibilities of learning English. These include Alresheed, Raiker, and Carmichael (2017) and Lai and Gu (2015). They found that the use of technology in out-of-class activities helped in opening up numerous possibilities for learning. For instance, it provided a chance for both native speakers and learners to access a wide range of materials. They also emphasized that at the University of Hong Kong, technology is used for out-of-class activities, as it provides access to requisite materials for language learning (Alresheed, Raiker& Carmichael, 2017; Lai and Gu, 2015). They include library databases and social platforms that encourage access to information that supports learning. The student portal is an example of technology that assists learners to access the required materials in their learning course. They are critical in offering easy access to materials to the learners, thereby boosting the learning outcomes. According to Alresheed, Raiker, and Carmichael (2017), the use of technology in learning can be considered as an effort to improve classroom language learning. However, it has been argued that this practice is not widespread in the classroom learning environment.
Ferdous (2013) stated that it is the responsibility of expert linguists to explore the available resources of learning environments to improve instructional strategies for developing language acquisition. Thus, she suggests the use of multimedia mediums such as television, film and journalism for widening the curriculum activities to outside activities and improving English education (Çelik and Aytin 2014) also pointed to the fact that teachers of English can integrate technology as a means of creating content that is more useful to the students, enabling them to participate and distribute the knowledge that they already have.
In examining, the extent to which the use of language has helped the English learners to regulate themselves, Lai and GU (2011) found that being in an English language class encourages them to make use of English on social networks, to learn how to express their feelings and to learn more about English language culture. This, in turn, assists the English learners in widening their social networks and therefore, move from simply learning a language for its use in a formal context. The extensive use of English in social aspects and its significance makes it an area that requires greater attention. In particular, the use of technology helps to increase the level of motivation and determine the efficiency of the students in learning English. It improves the levels of participation and concentration that makes it easier to learn the language.Tawalbeh (2014) argued on a similar basis that using tools such as Web 2.0 enables the learners to be actively involved in creating networks and participating, as opposed to merely engaging in the consumption of the information they have been provided with. As a result, the networks facilitate the learning of the language among the students.
Knobel and Lankshear (2014) note that the use of technology ensures that students are exposed to sharing with those others who have similar interests and enjoy learning languages. This subsequently ensures that learners of English are constantly able to practice their skills and to expand their learning far beyond the traditional classroom context. In this regard, Knobel and Lankshear (2014) and Tawalbeh (2014) suggest that integrating technology would also enable the weakest language learner to gain confidence, especially because after the early grades, many schools do not emphasize ensuring that students gain practical skills. Even though Al-Asmari and Khan (2014) examine technology in terms of television and radio, they highlight that expanding the presence of these types of technologies can facilitate English learners to gain opportunities to practice their skills. Al-Asmari and Khan (2014) point to how, for instance, many students learning the English language are not provided with the chance to visit either the cinema or the theatre, which is a further representation of the lack of chances that many English language students have to learn English from the performances of plays or the watching of films. In summary, it is a missed opportunity for educators to institute strategies that advance the learning of the English language among the EFL students in Saudi Arabia. This leads the students to believe that English does not play a major role in their lives, producing a lower level of motivation within English learners to learn the language.
The learning of English need not be limited to the classroom, but may also take place at any time and place. Recently, it has been witnessed that an increasing emphasis being placed on the importance of life-long education as an approach to facilitating how English is learned (Lai and GU, 2011). The qualities of out-of-class learning might vary from one individual to the next; however, the determination of an individual to develop language skills outside the classroom is now being seen as a distinguishing factor in the quest to develop anyone’s second language (Nunan, 1991). Learners of English are said to take part in specific local contexts, coupled with specific practices that provide opportunities for learning English (Sharma, 2015). The English language learners are also said to engage in watching television, cinema, listening to music, and interactions with peers as the main out-of-class activities. Studies on German students studying English established that the choice of out-of-class students’ activities revolved around receptive skills, as well as being influenced by the intrinsic nature of the activity and its perception as being interesting to them (Pickard, 1996). Other studies have also observed that ESL students spent a smaller amount of time on out-of-class learning activities, compared to those of EFL students who spent more time (88% of language learning time) on out-of-class activities (Knobel and Lankshear, 2014). It has also been opined that in order for a more effective impact to be made from out-of-class learning activities, as a result of more time and effort being spent on them, students ought to establish the most effective ways in which this time can be spent (Knobel and Lankshear, 2014). Most studies, however, fail to show the impact that the attitudes of English language students have, as well as those of their communities, on the creativity and utilization of out-of-class learning opportunities.
According to Knobel and Lankshear (2014), out-of-class learning can be looked at from a position of ‘learner strategies’ and ‘learner activities’ subject to the role that English plays in the lives of its learners outside the classroom. According to Briggs (2015), some learners stated that English did not play a very vital role outside the classroom, a few suggested it as being important and used it in their day-to-day contexts, while some said that they only used it occasionally. This implies a prevalent lack of motivation to use the language beyond their studies or the school environment (Briggs, 2015), despite a high number also reporting that their proficiency in the language was either weak or fair, and felt the need for more practice.
Moreover, most out-of-class activities do not involve face-to-face interaction. Most reported entertainment, browsing the internet and reading academic content as the most popular activities (Knobel&Lankshear, 2014). Most students do not read outside the areas of study as much as it is plausible to expect, with most acknowledging occasional communication in English with their colleagues (Knobel and Lankshear, 2014). This was attributed to the minimal opportunities to communicate in English outside school (work or study) environments. Most English speaking was done in places where sanctions made it a requirement by an external body, for instance, the administration of the various institutions (Knobel and Lankshear, 2014). Besides, communication in English is mostly avoided owing to the negative connotations implied by its use, as well as the undesirable response that its usage might provoke in other people. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, there is a wide use of the Arabic language as the primary language for the majority of the population. Since English is considered as foreign and few people have an exhaustive understanding of it, there is a possibility of the Saudi Arabians avoiding its use. This helps in avoiding the negative connotations that may be implied by its uses such as Westernization. The use may also trigger undesirable responses from the people, provoking feelings.
In regard to out-of-class activities, those associated with reading are deemed to be the most productive. The reading of newspapers and magazines, novels and academic papers among others should be encouraged more to support its learning among EFL students in out-of-class activities (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). To do this, contextual factors that actually facilitate the use of the language requires facilitation, which may not be so entirely easy to accomplish in most cases (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). For instance, the choices of learners to avoid face-to-face interactions could be influenced by other socio-political factors, making such situations complex to address (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014).
Teaching includes ways that will help elevate perceptions of speaking in English, as well as reducing the fear that speakers might be pigeon-holed by a society prone to judging English teachers (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). The need for English learners to freely speak the language publicly requires emphasis in its teaching as an approach that will improve not only proficiency but also other relationships owing to the improved ability of self-expression (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). Teachers utilize the fact presented by the acknowledgment of a large number of learners that their out-of-class activities involved much entertainment such as television and novels (Elyas&Badawood, 2016). This helps in designing visual and audio programs, as well as more written entertainment, and encourage their usage as rich sources of motivation, besides being educative material (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). The public domain is also useful to teachers in furthering the reach of English language teaching, given that it is less threatening both to the group and to individual identities, besides being easier to control by the students (Elyas&Badawood, 2016). As a result of this, the potential of the private domain in adding value to out-of-class learning requires critical focus.
Out-of-class learning activities make studying more relevant and engaging for both teachers and learners (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). This can be achieved by grasping those opportunities that make learning concepts real, as well as relevant, by contextualizing them in accordance with reality (Elyas&Badawood, 2016). Some concepts that may pose a challenge in terms of comprehending them in the classroom could be made easier to understand from the perspective of the broader world, where the learner is more engaged and motivated to learn as well as understand. Students in countries that are not English speaking may tend to have the impression that they do not have access to an English environment that is authentic. Most learners tend to get immersed in their first language environment outside the classroom, where their exposure to English is limited (Elyas&Badawood, 2016).
Therefore, designing out-of-class learning activities has to portray to the learners that they are in an English-speaking environment, which can be fostered by their commitment to focus on the language and its usage in their daily lives (Hyland, 2004). Interactions with English speakers is also necessary since it facilitates the learners’ process of acquisition. This can be attributed to the proficient or native speakers adjusting the vocabulary used in the conversations to facilitate the learner’s understanding of the message (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014). These types of conversations are purported to help in language acquisition and rarely occur within the classroom. They also present an opportunity for learners to negotiate meaning through an authentic context. The chances of this happening are greatly increased when learners speak in English outside the classroom more frequently (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014).
Out-of-class activities such as speaking in English also impart the learners with elements such as sociolinguistic competence that addresses issues such as courtesy and appropriate language adjustments to different context (Spörer&Schünemann, 2014); strategic competence, addressing individual strategies to facilitate communication; linguistic competence, that gives knowledge of the structural properties of English as a language; and discourse competence that imparts the ability to formulate great texts and merging them smoothly with relevant phrases (Elyas&Badawood, 2016).
English language has realized a significant global growth in the recent years. There has been a growing population of English speakers among second and additional language users. The emphasis on English learning as a foreign language (EFL) among non-native speakers has been spurred by the issues of globalization that makes the language a lingua franca for many countries. It has been widely adopted as the commonly taught language in most education systems and used in many employment environments. Some scholars argue that the use of English as a global language has led to a situation where the speakers as a second language outnumber the first language speakers. The coexistence of humans in societies and cultural dynamism makes English the most popular as the medium of communication.
The literature review focused on the contribution of different scholars towards addressing the learning of, and spread of, English language. It highlights the concepts of cosmopolitanism, linguistic capital, and approaches to teaching and learning the language in environments where it is considered a foreign language. Some of the formal approaches reviewed include cooperative learning, whole language, comprehensive, learner-cantered, and skills-based approaches. The approaches present unique benefits and challenges when learning English as a foreign language.
English as a foreign language has gained significance in Saudi Arabia due to the improvement of the educational system and the market needs, as well as the desire for Saudi Arabia to replace oil as its main economic driver (Vision 2030). Despite the efforts and strategies that have been proposed for formally teaching English in Saudi Arabia, there are still varied challenges that limit effectiveness. The existing studies failed to address the role of culture in learning the language in Saudi Arabia. Culture has a significant influence on the willingness of a population to learn a foreign language in formal settings. While the efforts may be critical in motivating learners, culture may influence the learning desires and affects the outcomes. In teaching English language to EFL students in Saudi Arabia, the cultural influences of the Arabic language make it difficult for students and teachers to embrace English. They consider it a foreign culture, creating the need for teachers and students to adopt effective strategies for better outcomes. Whether it is a skilled-based approach or other approaches such as comprehensive and student-centred, these classroom-based approaches do not emphasise equipping learners with skills that build up their linguistic capital. This supports the need for additional research in informal out-of-class learning as one of the approaches or tools that might be useful to help facilitate and improve the English language learning process amongst higher education students.
Understanding linguistic capital might offer strategies that can be explored in informal learning of the English language. In the present world of globalization and rapidly changing technology, English becomes an important language for communication, not only in the school context, but also workplaces and communication in general. It is part of the cosmopolitan condition. While the previous studies have shown that the formal learning of the English language is not effective among the Saudi students. Informal out-of-classroom activities have proved to be effective in learning the English language among the EFL students in Saudi Arabia.
Literacy sponsors are critical in developing the learners’ linguistic capital and understanding the English language. Sponsors have influence over other people’s literacy practices. Brandt (DATE) believes that sponsors, who can be older relative, teachers, supervisors and other influential people, primarily shape the literacy practices of children and young adults.
With respect to the influence of informal out-of-class activities on English language learning, there is some empirical evidence of improved academic performance, improved student English efficiency, and increased student motivation and engagement in informal out-of-class English based activities. The previous studies considered out-of-class learning as an autonomous self-directed learning process covering self-instruction and direction, natural, and self-directed naturalistic language learning as they do not require instructions and direction from teachers. In some cases, creating and engaging in out-of-class activities may not focus directly on learning the language while they are in that situation (Hyland, 2004). They also promote a wide range of benefits for the EFL students to improve their English language through out-of-class informal activities.
However, understanding informal learning in the Saudi context is still underdeveloped. The review of literature therefore leads to a significant gap in existing knowledge about the influence of informal out-of-class activities on the English language learning process among EFL Saudi students in higher education, from the students’ own perspectives.
Informal learning refers to learning that occurs away from an organized and structured, and predefine classroom environment. Saudi EFL student’ perceptions of learning English through informal out of class activities is convinced and they are inspired about learning English through informal out of class activities. They are convinced by Out-of-Class informal activities because these are opportunities for students to learn with the freedom to find knowledge from their preferred sources. According to their perspective, formal learning channels have largely been established, such as schools, colleges, and universities, on the opposite informal channels have been ignored completely. However, in this research, we had found that students and educators have recently started to realize that informal learning can gain a great deal of information. It is a style of learning in which the students can set their goals and objectives (Conner, 2004). Besides, moving beyond the curriculum of the traditional learning classroom expand the study environment of students which helps them to explore new areas of interest, along with developing deep knowledge. Out-of-Class informal activities may include viewing videos, playing games, using social media, reading articles, coaching sessions, participating in forums and chat rooms, etc. According to Saudi EFL students’’ perceptions, the Application of these activities cannot be denied because students are likely to develop the language learning ability that further work as a bridge between studying English and its usage, and Out-of-class learning activities make studying more convenient and engaging for both teachers and learners.
Some practical concepts may pose a challenge in comprehending but Out-of-class learning activities could make it easier to actualize from the broader world's perspective where the learners have been found more engaged and motivated to learn as well as understand. Further, it has been found during research, informal learning involves students learning from field experiments as it does not require instruction or direction from teachers that make things complicated for students. Instead, there is self-instruction and direction in the learning process that allows students to play freehanded on their behalf, where the learner is more engaged and motivated to learn and understand. It is also concluded from the research students who belong to countries that are not English speaking environmental may tend to have the bad impression that they do not have access to an English language environment that is natural and authentic as they are immersed in their first language outside the classroom, where their exposure to English is limited.
In the same way, it is understood that literacy sponsors are critical in developing the learners’ linguistic capital and understanding the English language. Sponsors influence other people’s literacy practices. According to Brandt’s perspective sponsors who can be older relatives, teachers, supervisors, and other influential people, primarily shape the literacy practices of children and young adults. Concerning the influence of informal out-of-class activities on English language learning, there is some empirical evidence of improved academic performance, improved student English efficiency, and increased student motivation and engagement in informal out-of-class English based activities.
Learning English has increasingly become a subject of discussion in terms of how it can be taught in a manner that is not only restricted to the classroom but evolves beyond it. According to English learners, the process of English learning should not be limited to the classroom; it may occur at any time and place. The qualities of out-of-class learning might be questioned; however, the determination of an individual to develop language skills outside the classroom is now being seen as a distinguishing factor in the quest to develop anyone's second language.
2. Usefulness and Limitations of the theories and Methodology
Informal out-of-classroom activities have proved to be effective in learning the English language among the EFL students in Saudi Arabia. Out-of-class learning activities are considered as autonomous self-directed learning process covering self-instruction and direction, natural, and self-directed naturalistic language learning as they do not require instructions and direction from teachers. In some cases, creating and engaging in out-of-class activities may not focus directly on learning the language while they are in that situation. They also promote a wide range of benefits for EFL students to improve their English language through out-of-class informal activities.
According to Hancock, (2018) learners who move away from home to study English or even moved for work or travel are learning so quickly their English skills in comparison to learners who only learn in class, even compiling their major English degrees. Speaking a language publically helps students move their theoretical knowledge such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation from their 'slow memory' to your 'quick memory (Landowners, 2002). I also found during my research survey, all the participants (16 out of 16) were involved in out-of-class activities related to speaking for various goals and purposes. Add to that; they were involved in different out-of-class activities in several areas: surrounding environment or educational environment, as mentioned in 1.1 Literacy Sponsors, speaking in public, online speaking practice, and private speaking practice (Ch-4, Table 8). So, on the behalf of literature and our finding result, we can say it’s a fact that speaking in public and private speaking practice helps to expose any gaps in your vocabulary and grammar.
Another evidence on the behalf we can justify the importance of important out of class activities is video gaming that is an informal out of class activity. During my qualitative research, three out of the 14 participants mentioned video gaming as the most helpful activity in their language learning process. Video gaming was the activity that combined all the language skills that the participants were involved in. Two out of these three were the two Science Stream students (Talib and Mohsin), and the third was in the 3rd year in the English major (Hamad). Talib believes that Video gaming is the most useful activity in learning and developing the English language. According to him in contrast to the traditional teaching and learning methods in school, learning through video gaming is fun and entertaining as sitting in the class for 2 or 3 hours listening to a lecturer speaking is boring and slows down the learning process. Meanwhile, these games trigger all of the English language basic skills as he explained: such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Informal out-of-class activities are useful tools that help facilitate and improve the English language learning process amongst higher education students for example during my research I able to find out that the third most useful activity to learn English is watching movies. Although all the 16 participants mentioned that they watched movies, only two participants believed that watching movies was the most beneficial out-of-class activity. It is assumed that everyone used his unique way of watching movies. It might not be beneficial to all participants in terms of learning English. In short, it demands more on how one utilizes the idea.
The role of literacy sponsor is also useful and critical as we have discussed in the discussion chapter, their impact on learners, who learn English, especially through Saudi EFL Student perspective. All over the world, the family is considered the first institute that socialized the children in their childhood. Parents play the role of literacy sponsors and able their children to understand the very basic and essential etiquettes of life—further, the circle of socialization increase to the schools and teachers who give proper and formal educations. After parents and family then come friends and colleagues who also play the most critical role in Saudi EFL students’ perception of learning English through informal out of class language activities as I have mentioned in chapter- 4 Finding, the majority of the participants (15 out of 16) mentioned significant literacy sponsors because they had played an important role in English learning journey. They provided encouragement, support, and access to those activities that enable us to learn EFL.
2.2 Limitations of the Methodologies and research
Although I have given my best to design the Methodologies thoughtfully and carefully, some unexpected limitations can arise when regulating any type of methodology (Creswell, 2007). These limitations may include threats to research trustworthiness, which could come from the researcher, the research design, setting, or participants. I discuss possible limitations in these categories in this section.
I am a Ph.D. student conducting this research for my Dissertation. The quality of a study depends heavily on one research skills and might it is affected by his personal biases. I confess I may have unintentionally influenced the results due to my own beliefs or experiences. During this time, my perceptions, assumptions, expectations, and experiences may have influenced my understanding, thoughts, and interpretations. While I paid attention to every single step I took in this study, I am a novice researcher who still has much to learn about conducting academic research. Besides, I may have affected my participants’ responses when I was present during data collection. They may have said what they thought I wanted to hear. They may have drawn positive pictures of situations that were not altogether positive. However, I believed that semi-structured interviews and friendly meetings might reduce the effect of my presence. In analyzing data, I assured that findings were Coded and shaped by the participants’ responses and not my bias.
I acknowledge that the Research design was limited to Saudi EFL students, the setting in which it was conducted, and to the participants who voluntarily took part. Because it is an introductory study that uses qualitative research methods, so, the results of the study might not be generalized to any larger population. I also confess that might during the Data analysis process I might have skipped any important details. This study followed a thematic analysis of participants’ responses and experiences. Data analysis is a long process that included many strategies and steps. This process is usually technical and tedious; I might have rushed or skipped important details. If so, limitations might occur. However, I attempted to do no practice that might cause limitations. I followed a carefully planned process and took care of all details.
Another limitation of the study is the lack of research awareness in Saudi Arabia. During my research, I realized Knowledge of particularly students, about research procedure is usually imperfect. While I was conducting qualitative research, I discovered that students were not familiar with meeting for research purposes. Research is not considered a part of the curriculum and research culture is not common among Saudi students. Therefore, rare information is available in the literature about the Saudi EFL context, particularly from and on students.
On the other hand, I also come to know that students rarely have the opportunity to express their opinions verbally in Saudi education. Usually, teacher-centered approaches and lecturing techniques play a role in limiting the students’ abilities to share their experience in more detail. Certainly, this approach directly affects the students’ participation in qualitative research and it could be considered a limitation to my study. However, I overcame such limitations by using probes in the interviews to encourage them to expand their answers and provide more details. Finally, limitations exist in any research. The responses were candid and valid and provided answers to research questions. However, the Limitations of this study are discussed to improve this research and to suggest further research.
The English language has gotten significant global growth in recent years. There could be seen a growing population of English speakers among second and additional language users. In my recommendations portions, the very first thing which I will prioritize is the learning of English need not be limited to the classroom, but the learning process should take place at any time and place without bonding to a specific classroom. Students concern an approach to how English can be learned more effectively. After this research, I can say confidently that the qualities of out-of-class learning might be questioned; however, the determination of an individual to develop language skills outside the classroom is now being seen as a most convenient and distinguishing factor in the quest to develop anyone's second language. So, English language learners should engage in watching television, cinema, listening to music, and interactions with peers as the main out-of-class activities.
During my research, a recommended perspective that I found is that we should take language as a language not treated the English language as a unit or subject that students are compelled to pass to go to the next class. I found in my qualitative research “during students school years, one participant from each group in both preparatory year and the English major said that they treated the English language as a unit they were compelled to pass to go to the next grade”. When English was introduced to them at school, there was not enough encouragement and excitement for them to deal with this new knowledge. Further added by Aziz (from the Science Stream) Honestly, in the sixth and seventh grades, English for me was just something I needed to pass.
Finely, I would like to say the Saudi government should pay special attention to teaching the English language and should retreat from all the traditional methods of English teaching and learning. Most of the difficulties come from the teachers’ use of traditional methods that focus on face-to-face instruction inside the classrooms. These teaching methods do not fit the digital age (Alshumaimeri & Alzyadi, 2015) because they divide English into discrete skills and areas of knowledge, deal with skills in isolation, dominate the English teaching practices. Current students in Saudi Arabia require modern teaching approaches that are built on web-based materials (Mahib urRhaman & Alhaisoni, 2013). Most current Saudi learners are considered “native digital” students (Prensky, 2001) who live in the digital age and are surrounded by digital devices.
More broadly I will recommend the Integrate out-of-class English activities with the existing learning environment, and modify out-of-class English activities into their teaching. Expose diverse perceptions through the voices of teachers and learners about their uses of informal activities in English learning outside the classroom.
Identify some WbTs to use in the Blended English learning context, compare what they are doing with what they could be doing to promote language learning outside the classroom in web-based settings, and Encourage learners to facilitate their language learning by seeking opportunities to use English outside the classroom.
4. Directions for Future Research
My study elaborates on Saudi EFL students’ perceptions of learning English through informal out-of-class activities. Somewhere, its scope is limited in terms of setting and participants. Although this study explores a limited EFL context in Saudi Arabia, it paves the way for more exploratory studies. Besides, the way of learning out of the class informally requires more exploratory and descriptive investigations. I can say based on my literature review and qualitative research, in the Saudi EFL context, much further research is needed. In this section, I have provided some directions for Future Research and some recommendations for future investigations within this area. I summarize my suggestions for future studies in the following paragraphs.
As I have mentioned above in the limitation portion, many important issues were not addressed. They might be explored in future research to achieve a fuller understanding of learning in a blended EFL context. Because this learning perspective is still newly emerging in many Saudi institutions, more studies will help to identify the characteristics of this context.
This context requires more studies that produce a more reliable understanding of current educational trends. Doing similar studies with different participants and in different educational settings across Saudi Arabia will increase the validity and reliability of this research. It will also reinforce the literature about the Saudi EFL context.
In particular, their perceptions of using specific informal out of class activities such as YouTube or watching movies will provide more insights into how and why participants of my study showed a strong preference for online aspects of their English courses.
Further , replicate this future study in the same location and participants can determine how this theory works after some time. Or future studies replicate in different locations or with different participants to compare and contrast the findings. On the other side, a future study could be conducted with random participants—no criteria for teachers or students—to see whether participants provide similar responses. Then, compare and contrast the findings with this study.
As I have mentioned in the research designs portion, might a better research design could be used in future studies. This study may suggest some methodological changes to implement in future studies. In addition, from my literature review, I learned that studies in the Saudi context use quantitative designs and difficult language while qualitative research and easy language is rarely used. Similarly, I have found that most of the studies have been conducted with males participants as In Saudi Arabia education follows a gender-based System. So, this future study might be replicated in any female setting. The number of female students who study English for academic purposes is increased. Therefore, future studies might investigate the needs and settings of female students in female institutions related to informal out of class activities.
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Adverse Effects of Social Media on Pakistan
In the past couple of decades, social media have evolved and established global fame to the point that many scholars are now keen to learn more about these social networks and their impact on society. While nearly everyone in the community is linked to at least one social network, young people and adolescents are the proponents and the extremists of social media to the degree that they use social media even in their classrooms. To this end, scholars have noted that these networking media have a huge effect on the lives of our young people in society with respect to education, behavior, and morals. Social media usage has both positive and negative implications on our young community today. This research demonstrates the negative effects of social media on young people in particular.
Social Media Affecting Social Norms and Ethics:
Being an Islamic country Pakistan has many social and religious norms. But with the emergence of digital media, these social conventions and morals of youth have been threatened. Being a conventional community, open relationships, and friendships with the opposite sex are believed to be immoral. However, social media have altered the norms of socialization and subsequently, the youth with adverse social classes are getting interested to engage and connect in friendships with the opposite sex. These interactions result in several miserable actions such as murders and suicides which are usually reported in the newspapers as a consequence of online friendships. This use of social media leads youth towards the pursuit of sexual content.
Sadly, amongst eight Muslim states led by Egypt, Pakistan ranked at the top in researching porn content. Several universities, colleges, and schools’ social groups denote sexual talk among students. For the purpose of minimizing unethical traffic, PTA blocked about 64 thousand online sources having immoral, blasphemous, or obscene content. However, youth still search for sex videos and mostly use VPNs or fake social media accounts to approach adult or porn and inappropriate content. This conduct has become a major issue for online abuse and harassment of women and results in blackmailing.
Role of Social Media in Cyber Crimes:
Cybercrime activity is promoted and encouraged by the Internet through computers, digital devices, and networks used in the digital world. It may involve the digital stealing of information from a private, governmental, or industrial sector by transmitting criminal connections to illegal remote networks across the globe. It entails robbing millions of rupees from the online bank to threaten and stalk internet users. Major Cybercrimes are drug trafficking, harassment, money laundering, and cyberstalking.
Enthusiastic and innocent young people are widely targeted by cybercriminals. Plenty of young people questioned answered that their personal pictures and information are shared by them on online platforms. Through talking to known individuals and uploading personal information, they may result in victims of cybercrime or participate in bad practices such as harassment. Many of the hackers are teens, industry rivals, former boyfriends or partners, hackers, or political activists, etc. Bullets are substituted for bytes. The Internet gives criminals the chance to avenge people for disingenuous reasons and for making black money. Pakistan is appeared to be one of the countries facing the most cybercrimes. However, laws regarding cybercrimes do not contribute to investigating cybercrimes.
A survey found that 65% of adult Internet users say they have been victims of cybercrimes. In the case of online money theft, most individuals prefer not to complain to the authorities and just notify their banks. The bulk of cyber threats are ransomware attacks or malicious attacks not directly aimed at anybody, and average citizens are less likely to be the victims. Nearly 51 percent of internet users were at some point subjected to a virus or Trojan threat. Very few Internet users faced targeted threats such as sexual abuse, web theft, phishing bank scams, and cyber hacking. Most victims are angry and concerned, and up to 35% are even afraid.
Pakistanis pay no heed to cyber problems like cybercrimes. Most of them are busy in their daily lives. They are normally ignorant of cybercrimes tools. Pakistan plays no part in cyber protection. While FIA and other agencies do their utmost to deal with these conditions, however, things are still out of control. At least certain aspects of social networking in Pakistan should not be tolerated in order to minimize cybercrime victimization.
Social Media as a Significant Way in Compromising Privacy:
Privacy means something that is not public and related to individual characteristics. It varies from individual to individual. It not only falls under the umbrella of human rights but also gives personal anatomy, so; it should be protected under some rules and regulations. According to Neethling, privacy refers to the entirety of facts and information which applies to a person in a state of isolation. Privacy ensures the protection of personal information, communication, and possessions. Private information remains private until someone willing to express it, but in the age of technology, people willingly give their data for easy access. Every social media platform demands some sort of personal information, without which a person remains unable to use the platform for instance Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
The technologically processed data becomes a source of insecurity. The inspection of personal data and emails are working against the morality and ethics of human beings. At the start, personal emails are used for the working process, but now, it serves the function of private communication. The emails are also used in accessing social media platforms, and if someone unconsciously visited the wrong website or link, then the spam emails start working. In this way, people are compromising their privacy in the technological world.
Social media has not only affected the individual’s private, moral, and social life but also giving red signals to global workers like info-technicians. The entrepreneurs are most likely to sell the private information of someone for the sake of money. In this way, cybercrimes are flourished.
Role of Social Media in Promoting Islamophobia:
The demonization process offers an incentive to establish inaccurate perceptions about individuals who are culturally and ethnically different. So, racism is formulated, which in general is a broad type of segregation, encompassing social, cultural and intellectual aspects that annul the heterogeneity and plurality of culture, class or ethnic group, Islamophobia, which is a representation of disrespect to people who profess Islam or who come from countries where Islam is professed. Social media lead to freedom of speech, which allows users to experience and voice their thoughts. Unfortunately, some people exploit this and submit derogatory statements that may affect people adversely. The negative consequence of freedom of speech is the number of hateful messages exchanged by unconscious individuals. Putri et al. state hatred speech is any means of communication that is offensive, undervaluing, and degrading for an individual or group of people. It can be seen, Islamophobia is triggered by the effects of dehumanization and hatred on social media.
For several decades, Pakistan has become a target of terrorism. The main factors behind the possibility of terrorism are believed to be extremism and radicalism. Social media is commonly used to disperse hate speech and misinformation that perturbs attempts to curb racism and terrorism. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) of the Pakistan Army maintains official social media pages to educate and update the general public about military intelligence. Nevertheless, false news content is distributed in the name of ISPR often by false accounts. A number of false alerts, danger warnings, and emergency calls were distributed recently after a suicide bombing in the region, linking these with the ISPR. These false attacks and alarms spread fear across the nation. High ministry officials also claim that the "negative role" of social media, including military services in the form of misinformation, impacts the "war on terror" and decreases security forces’ morality.
Social Media Concerning Psychological Health:
Social media plays a vital role in promoting mental health issues. In a study, 13 percent of 12-17-year-olds experience depression, and 32 percent report anxiety, hence, a mental disease is a problem for teenage health. It is a problem for young adults as well since 25 percent of 18-25-year-olds report undergoing a certain type of mental disorder. Depression is especially growing among females. Some studies have indicated that this spike in mental illness is, at least partially, related to the growth in social media use by teens and young adults.
Excessive use of social media significantly affects sleep which results in anxiety and depression. The use of social media during the night affects sleep in several ways as individuals keep using social devices till late so the light can affect the circadian system.
Young people report using social media during night time, even though it affects their sleep. They are afraid that if they do not use their phone at night, they would neglect potential social online connections that youth think will adversely affect their personal social interactions. Teenagers often report that they want their friends to be online and accessible at night. There is a social norm to reply quickly to messages and they do not want to breach this law by sleeping past their messages. Many teens admit sleeping with their mobile and continuously monitoring them at night.
In reality, teenagers and young adults frequently think about what they call FOMO, which is anxiety about missing experiences. Social media can exacerbate FOMO emotions, for instance, when someone sees pictures from a party to which they were not invited. Adolescents are especially vulnerable to the possible harmful effects of social media as their growth relies on social connectivity. Social network browsing can lead to FOMO and a sense of isolation can lead to depressive feelings.
Social Media Leading Family Culture Towards Demolition:
In this contemporary world, online correspondence has become more preferential and more prevalent than face-to-face encounters. Different cultures have therefore shown apprehensions that digital media connections have distracted people in order to spend time with their family and close relations. New media innovations have provided a forum for the growth of peer culture among young people, however, they have eroded the culture of the home. In today's world, young people tend to spend a lot of time with their peers online. They are followed by cyber mates and though they are with their families. This is the case for Pakistani teens, who choose cyber world accounts online. It is also stated that unnecessary online experiences drive people away from their family and relationships in real life. In fact, mobile phones have brought new habits, both in rural and urban areas that have eaten up the time and energy traditionally allocated to families and intimate relationships.
It can be concluded that though social media have positive effects negative effects are along with them which can leave a permanent mark on an individual’s life. Lack of social media awareness in regard to its negative effects is leading Pakistani youth to a point where there is no comeback. Social media is playing an important part in exploiting youth and directing them towards mental and psychological issues. Moreover, media is creating a void between children and parents where children avoid sharing their issues with their parents instead post their problems online or share with an unknown person to get suggestions which usually results in blackmailing and abuse. In addition, media is significant in raising the new ways of crimes and where criminals cannot be traced. Considering the above discussion it would not be wrong if we say that the excessive use of social media is creating a threat to the future of our young generation.
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