Investigating English Lexical Insufficiency by Saudi Public School Students


The Cambridge Examination Center published a study of English proficiency in 2009 and ranked Saudi students 39th of 40 nations taking part in both academic and general tests. Many studies relevant to the Saudi context attribute Saudi students’ poor performance in English language to their lack of sufficient English vocabulary. This study investigates two potential factors that may contribute to lexical insufficiency by Saudi students. These factors are the range and effectiveness of vocabulary learning strategies used by students and the school textbooks’ input. The participants were 35 Saudi students of different study levels and nine male Saudi teachers teaching English as a foreign Language (EFL) at intermediate and secondary public schools. Data was collected using questionnaire and evaluating two school textbooks, that is, the first and second secondary school textbooks. The results show that students who participated in the study ineffectively use different vocabulary strategies, mainly using bilingual dictionary, asking others and guessing meaning to discover unknown words’ meaning and repetition and keeping a vocabulary notebook to retain new vocabulary items. Additionally, the analysis of the two school textbooks shows insufficient recycling for the presented vocabulary items. Moreover, the analysis shows that these textbooks do not cover all aspect of vocabulary knowledge. Finally, based on these findings and relevant literature, some pedagogical implications along with suggestions for further research are provided.


Keywords: Investigating English Lexical Insufficiency by Saudi Public School Students

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 15-56 (Download PDF)

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