The Global Spread of English and the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language: Perspectives from Western Muslim Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The global spread of English and the role played by TEFL in this phenomenon is a subject of debate among EFL educators and researchers; this study provides new insights into this complex situation in relation to the Islamic faith in a way that has not yet been addressed in the literature. There has been an increased interest among researchers concerning the relationship between faith and ELT; however, to this date, no empirical studies have been conducted with regards TEFL and Islam. The study is, therefore, providing rich insights into this area. In doing so, in light of the wider socio-political, ideological or religious issues connected to the spread of English, the study draws on the experiences of nine Western Muslim EFL teachers in the KSA by qualitatively investigating their views on TEFL and the global spread of English in the KSA with particular reference to their Islamic faith and its relationship with their profession The study also addresses how Islam relates to the perception of these processes and how it affects their professional practice. The study is, therefore, particularly significant as it can play a role in encouraging Muslim EFL teachers to relate the macro-level theoretical discourses and educational policies to the micro-level of classroom practice and contribute to the ongoing debate concerning the role played by TEFL in the KSA. The study also has the potential to raise awareness among Muslim educators in the KSA and other Muslim countries of the wider complex processes intertwined with the global spread of English and its impact on EFL education. This investigation as also shed light on a number of ethical questions in relation to how Western Muslims who have travelled to the KSA perceive the relationship between their faith and their role as EFL, which may open new ways for Muslim professionals to combine their faith with their profession. In-depth interviews were conducted with the participants and the data provided new insights into the perceptions of TEFL and the global spread of English. The participants not only described the global spread of English and TEFL as value-laden, politically and ideologically driven, but also as a facilitator in terms of communication and cross-cultural understanding and as a necessary tool to acquire in today’s world. The data collected also showed that the relationship between Islam and TEFL was not described in dichotomous terms, which meant that this conception was the result of the participants’ personal understandings of their faith. The findings also emphasised on the preponderant role of the participants’ Islamic faith on their personal and professional lives. The study’s main contribution relates to two essential notions that have been debated among applied linguists: ownership and appropriation of the English language. The research showed that Western Muslim EFL teachers appropriate and claim ownership of the English language in a way that has not yet been addressed in the literature. Finally, the study shows that language teaching issues are inextricably intertwined with broader issues such as religion, culture or politics and suggests that the links between Islam, politics and language need to be explicitly addressed within the ELT arena.
EdD in TESOL