This study aims to discover the major trend of Saudi advanced ESL learners’ willingness to communicate with native speakers. The idea of this study emerged after conducting two interviews in Murray state University with Saudi ESL learners, a male and a female, who are considered advanced learners based on their levels in the ESL program and their IELTS scores. Even though these learners were advanced in their proficiency levels, however, the results of the interview indicated that both learners were not willing to communicate with native speakers for different reasons. The results of the interviews were surprising due to the level of the students’ level and their intention to pursue their graduate studies in the United States. It is recognized that the development of proficiency level correlates positively with confidence and anxiety, thus, advanced language learners are supposed to express higher willingness to communicate with others without regard to their nationality or gender. Therefore, I have decided to investigate whether unwillingness to communicate is a common trend among Saudi advanced learners or not. I also aim to detect if gender is an issue in willingness to communicate among Saudi advanced ESL learners due to the unique cultural differences between the United States and the Saudi Arabia that might affect the willingness to communicate especially with the opposite gender.
There are several factors that stimulus and justifies the significance of the study. One is the yearly growing number of Saudi ESL learners that have reached 27000 ESL students in the United States with the extension of King Abdullah Scholarship program for another five years beginning from 2013. Another reason is the lack of research examining Saudi ESL learners. Therefore more research is recommended to be conducted in order to bring more understanding of language learning in the Saudi context. Native speakers were specified in the study because the study was carried out in an ESL environment which mostly consists of native speakers. Finally and most importantly, there is the role of oral communication in developing language competency and the pace of learning.
Willingness to communicate is an important factor that influences the pace of learning a language, proficiency and fluency of the language. Also, it affects the amount of linguistic knowledge that learners are exposed to. Therefore, it is important to indicate the common trend of willingness to communicate among Saudi ESL learners in order to suggest solutions to treat the issue if unwillingness is detected especially if gender is an involved matter. Thus, the study aims to answer two questions:
1- What is the major trend of willingness to communicate among Saudi advanced ESL learners?
2- What is the relation between gender and willingness to communicate among Saudi learners?
To answer these questions, a survey that consists of 15 elements were designed to measure the willingness to...