Writing in a New Environment: Saudi ESL Students Learning Academic Writing

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Virginia Tech

This qualitative case study sought to gain a deeper understanding of the obstacles that students from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia face when learning English in a writing course that implements critical thinking and writing process pedagogy. The study took place over five months at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute in spring 2012. While ten participants--six female and four male Saudi Arabian ESL students--participated in this study, these findings focus primarily on one male and one female student. The aim of this focus was to give a rich and in-depth description of the two students. Two main queries guided this study: 1) How do sex differences affect Saudi students' perception of their teachers' and peers' authority? 2) How do those perceptions affect their development as writers and critical thinkers when learning in an intensive writing course at the high intermediate level? The researcher documented data through three sources: classroom observation, interviews with ESL students and teachers, and student writing samples.

critical thinking, writing, ESL