A Brief Historical Perspective of English in Saudi Arabia

Merzin Alshahrani


This chapter presents a brief historical perspective of the teaching and learning of the English language in Saudi Arabia. Historically, English was introduced for the first time in Saudi Arabia in the late 1920s, at which time the language was perceived to have little importance and was met with great resistance by society. Indeed, the new language was believed to be a real threat to the Saudis’ Arabic mother language, their culture, customs, and their religion: Islam. Thus, the teaching and learning of English received little attention for approximately seven decades because of the language’s low status in the country. However, a real shift occurred in teaching and learning English in the country after the events of 9/11. Since then, the Saudi government has made massive efforts to promote English, which has resulted in tremendous development in the way in which English is taught ,and its influence in the country. This development has contributed significantly to the enhanced status of English, as well as the appearance of new trends and insights in EFL teaching and learning in Saudi Arabia.

Keywords: History of English, Saudi Arabia, EFL/ESL teaching, EFL/ESL learning, petro-linguistics


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