Saudi Arabian educational history: Impacts on English language teaching

Tariq Elyas, Michelle Picard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the history of education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its impact on modern teaching practices. It explores the relationship between traditional practices, teacher identity and English language teaching within an increasingly complex context. Design/methodology/approach: The authors undertake a critical review of education in Saudi Arabia utilising critical reflexivity and their local social knowledge as a means of interrogating practice, research of the field, and related texts. Findings: The paper indicates a direct link between historical teaching practices in early Saudi Arabia and the current teaching of English. It suggests the concept of "hybridity" as one way for local English teachers to construct identities that meet the contextual challenges. Practical implications: This paper has implications both locally and internationally. It provides insight into teaching practices preferred by teachers and students in an Arabian context. This in turn has the potential to inform policy and curriculum development by local educators and foreign contractors in Saudi Arabia that take teacher and student identity into consideration. It also facilitates a more nuanced understanding of their Saudi Arabian students by Western educators and administrators. Originality/value: Although work has been done on teacher identity in Saudi Arabia and limited studies have examined the impact of English as a global language, this is the first study to examine the interplay between historical praxis, teacher identity and the conflicting pressures of teaching English in this context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-145
Number of pages10
JournalEducation, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Educational history
  • English language
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Teaching


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