English as language of business in Saudi Arabia

Arab News:

The English of Saudi university graduates is very poor. Since the labor market in the Kingdom largely depends on foreign manpower, English has necessarily become the language of business. Anyone who does not master English will be in a weak position when competing for a job. His or her chances for progressing in terms of career will be severely compromised.

Faced by this situation, some Saudi universities that could not improve their preparatory year for teaching English have thought of a more radical step to confront the problem: To make English the medium of instruction for specializations that are in huge demand in the labor market. If this proposal is implemented, we could face a cultural catastrophe....


No they would not. The best way to become proficient in English is through English immersion programs where the student is taught in English. The US experiment with bilingual education has been a failure and it appears that it is a failure in Saudi Arabia too. Just because students become proficient in English by learning other subjects in English doe snot mean they forget their native tongue. In many cases the experience actually enhances their ability to think in both languages.

I do give the Saudi's credit for recognizing the importance of learning English. We still have some people in this country who have not figured that out.


  1. You are right when you say that the best way to learn a language is through immersion. I live in Quebec, Canada, and our English schools (from elementary to high school) offer an immersion course in French. The success rate is (from my own personal experience) 100%, and (of course) every English family wants their children to speak more than one language. The French schools offer English for one hour starting at Grade 6. Their success rate is dismal to awful.

    As a result, most English Quebecers are perfectly bilingual, and French Quebecers are stuck speaking only one language.


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