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Social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

Ensuring social justice in education has proved difficult over the years. The wealthiest nations around the world with some of the most highly educated experts have found it difficult to design and develop ideal educational systems in which all individual are given sufficient educational experiences irrespective of the social group to which they belong. Since the 1960s, most of the higher education institutions especially in the US and Canada have strived to alter the landscape of their colleges from a terrain dominated by white male students from middle-class social group to one that is characterized by students as well as staff from all gender, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. Today, the American education landscape is highly globalized with most learning institutions including California State University enrolling hundreds of international students from countries such as Saudi Arabia and China. Colleges and universities across the US and Canada have been coming up with new strategies aimed at strengthening the recruitment and retention of international students. However, some of these students have reported being subjected to numerous stresses. For instance, thousands of international students come from Saudi Arabia the study in nations such as Australia, Canada, and the United States with hopes of receiving a good education. However, most of them are forced to pay exorbitant tuition fees compared with the non-international students. This paper discusses findings from studies conducted by other researchers on the topic the social injustice on Saudi ESL students studying abroad.

Social Justice/Injustice in Learning Environment-social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

High schools, colleges, and universities play an important life in molding the values and attitudes of students, whether domestic or international. of all different experiences but these learners are subjected to, justice experiences are the most crucial given that it fulfills important functions in their lives. When students are accorded justice in the learning set up, they become encouraged to believe that even in the future, they will be treated in the same way. More important, perceived social justice or injustice influences the well-being, emotional experiences, as well as the performance behavior of students (Pretsch, Ehrhardt, Engl, Risch, Roth, Schumacher, & Schmitt, 2015, p. 121). According to these authors, apart from being an important principle that guides international relationships, social justice plays a crucial role in educational socialization. Moreover, they point out that students’ school years are important because this period determines the type of conceptions about justice that learners develop. Social justice and injustice experiences are common in schools given that this environment is characterized by a constant distribution of resources.

Sources of Social Injustices in Learning Institutions-social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

Pretsch et al. (2015) have identified several sources of social injustice in schools. According to them, teachers can contribute to social injustice given that they are the ones who bear the responsibility of allocating rewards and punishments to students. In all learning institutions where Saudi ESL students go to study, teachers have a responsibility to assess the performance of their students through tests and exams. Additionally, they also constantly evaluate their learning behavior not only the classroom but also throughout a given academic year. Besides their formal responsibilities, these educators are also expected to offer support and praise to their students where necessary. Social injustice can be done to ESL students through failure to grade them fairly. Additionally, cases, where teachers have confronted students with criticism and degradation rather than the required support, are common. Naturally, most students will judge these experiences on the basis of their fairness or unfairness. These evaluations tend to have long-lasting effects on their well-being, study behavior, and motivation.

Moreover, students can experience social injustice from different viewpoints. According to Baumert and Schmitt (2016), individuals can experience injustice as victims, observers, beneficiaries, or perpetrators. Within the school context, students could internalize a given situation from the perspective of a victim when a teacher gives them less praise than they think they deserve. Bright international students could experience injustice from an observer’s side when they witness they are fellow students from the same country scoring lower grades than they truly deserve (Pretsch et al., 2015, p. 122). Beneficiary social injustice occurs when some students are given special treatment while the others are neglected.

The Growing Trend of International Students in the Us-social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

Over the past few years, US universities have prioritized attracting more international students regardless of where these institutions of higher learning are located. It is evident that the management of different colleges and universities regards the admission of students from different nationalities as one way of achieving greater diversity. According to Lobnibe (2009, p. 348), many of these institutions of higher learning tend to use international students as proof of their commitment to ensuring diversity. According to Taylor and Albasri (2014, p. 109), the government of Saudi Arabia has sponsored students to study in other countries since 1876 when King Abdul-Aziz came to power. Initially, the government allowed students to visit other Arab countries including Lebanon and Egypt where they would be enrolled in Islamic studies. By 1960, subsequent kings had expanded and created new international study programs that sponsored students to study in Europe, Australia, and the US. With time, these programs gained more popularity such that 1975, the government of Saudi Arabia for sending thousands of students to study abroad and earn relevant degrees in higher education. Before 2005, for instance, the number of Saudi students studying in the United States was less than 5000. This number declined further following the September 11 terrorist attacks as a result of the security crackdowns that targeted Arab travelers. In 2005, however, the US and Saudi leaders struck a deal to raise the level of cultural and educational exchanges between their countries (Taylor & Albasri, 2014, p. 110). Following this agreement, thousands of Saudi students were given the opportunity to study in the U.S with the Saudi government meeting paying for their education. Between 2013 and 2014, for instance, more than 100,000 students were admitted to American institutions of higher learning. Today, Saudi Arabia is one of the top sponsors of International students in the country.Social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

Although the contemporary higher education policies in most countries where Saudi students go to study seem to be friendly to foreign ESL students from diverse backgrounds, some scholars have carried out an intense examination of multicultural methods in different institutions of higher learning. In one such research, Nieto (1992, p. 23) found that although all colleges and universities have a comprehensive mission statement that emphasizes on tolerance for diversity, tolerating difference in a learning setting simply translates to enduring the differences rather than embracing them. After conducting a close examination the functioning of different social groups on different campuses, Nieto concluded that the extent of the integration into the host community and the efforts made by universities and colleges in ensuring that diversity efforts do not focus merely on tolerance reveal that the efforts put in place by these institutions of higher learning are as a result of the financial gains they derive from international students. It is well documented that international students especially those from Saudi Arabia who are sponsored by the government pay two or three times more in tuition fees compared to their domestic counterparts. In 2004 alone, International students pumped more than $ 13 billion into the economy of the United States (Lobnibe, 2009, p 349). While quoting the United States Department of commerce data, the other claims that higher education is one of the leading service sector exports of the US and other countries that enroll huge numbers of Saudi students. Unfortunately, international students have been regarded as a necessary evil given that in most cases, their socio-cultural and economic significance has been acknowledged and approached with a lot of this interest.

Social Injustice on Saudi Arabia International Students Based on Their Lived Experiences-social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

Young and Snead (2017) have carried out a comprehensive study on social injustice on Saudi ESL students studying in the US. In this particular study, the researchers invited thirty students to participate. Out of 30 individuals who volunteered to take part in the study were eleven Saudi Arabian international graduate students that consisted of seven males and four females. All of them were pursuing a Master’s program in education. Due to the nature of the study, action research process was utilized and data collected was examined and analyzed from a qualitative stance. After data analysis was carried out, it emerged that of the 11 international students from Saudi Arabia experienced a plethora of social injustices regardless of their gender that became a major barrier, especially throughout their acculturation process. The eleven participants cited a number of factors including gender-related differences, academic progress difficulties, availability of limited resources for international students especially with respect to the provision of support for ESL students, and social as well as academic language difficulties. Similar research has been conducted by other researchers and will be discussed in this paper under the sub-headings teaching methodology, curriculum, learning environment, teachers, and views of the Saudi students.

Teaching Methodology-social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

One of the most evident social injustices on Saudi ESL students is labeling them native or non-native speakers. According to Hastings and Jacob (2016, p. 99), the term native speakerism has become an influential ideology since its introduction, especially in English language teaching. Unpacking of this particular ideology is crucial in developing an understanding of social injustice on Saudi ESL students. While quoting Holliday, Hastings and Jacob define native speakerism as emanating from the assumption that native English speakers consider the language as essentially their property and as a result, they have a special claim to it. Based on this ideology, native English-speaking western instructors are referred to as speakers of the correct form of English and who have ownership of the language. On the other hand, their students from other linguistic and cultural backgrounds are regarded as not being able to speak the language correctly. Moreover, they lack a similar right to own the language.

Lowe and Kiczkowiak (2016) have also conducted research on the impact that native-speakerism has on the lives of both educators and students. The author conducted a detailed investigation based on dialogic interaction with the aim of identifying various complex ways through which the ideology influencers the career trajectories and lives of individual students and language teachers. According to them, the concept of native-speakerism refers to the belief that native speakers are the embodiment of the English language as well as a Western teaching methodology. Consequently, they are the ones that are best suited to teach the language. The authors remark that native speakerism has been a subject of interest to both ESL teachers and students. Aneja (2016) has investigated native-speakerism in detail. The author discusses native speaker racialization or othering. In the research that she conducted, Aneja found that her participants exhibited a tendency to change their communicative practices with the view of deviating from or aligning with the norms of a given context. Her results indicate that native-speakerism has negative influences on both students and teachers.

Aneja (2016) calls on both teachers and students to rethink the meaning of being an English speaker. To achieve this, there is a need for them to be aware of the different cultures and races present in class. Such a move would help them to avoid reification of native-speakerism ideology. There is also a need to present talks and use articles from diverse backgrounds that are relevant to ESL students. Teachers teaching Saudi ESL students should also create spaces within the learning environment in which different identity possibilities can be explored, making it possible to professionalize the teaching of the English language. Her recommendations are supported by who asserts that teachers of English as a Second Language cannot neglect culture and achieve effective teaching of the language. According to him, culture is part of a language. Over the years, he has found that ESL students that experience severe cultural adjustment problems tend to make very slow progress in academics (Buchanan, 1990, p.83) He recommends that teachers should understand factors that contribute to good language learning if they are to help their students to successfully acquire English as a second language.

Learning Environment-social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

Both the American and Saudi Arabian public school systems have a similar pattern: learners first attend kindergarten, before proceeding to the elementary school where they spend 6 years. The students in both countries spend half of the next six years in the intermediate level while the remaining half is spend in high school (Al-Romahe, 2008, p. 24). The author highlights several differences evident in the curriculum of the two countries. In Saudi Arabia, schools are segregated on the basis of gender and Islamic teachings are included in the syllabus while in the Us, this is not the case. The Al-Romahe (2008) points out that many of the differences in education culture between Saudi Arabia and a host of other countries where a significant proportion of Saudi Arabia students go to study could be analyzed on the basis of collectivism and individualism. Collectivist societies are social societies in which people tend to be tied and to live closely together and are the exact opposite of individualist societies. People that exist in collectivist societies find it easy to seek help from others when necessary. Students in Saudi Arabia have a tendency to depend more on their teachers. Moreover, they tend to be less exposed to situations that require them to think critically and come up with your own ideas (Al-Romahe, 2008, p. 24). On the other hand, American schools and institutions of higher learning are based on individualism as opposed to collectivism. While classes in Saudi Arabia are teacher-centered, those in American, the UK, Canada, and Australia are highly student-centered.

Al-Romahe (2008) has conducted research on social injustice on Saudi Arabia students by focusing on the relationship between these learners and their instructors. His study aimed at discovering the academic challenges that Saudi international students encounter while encountered and ways in which these difficulties were experienced. Additionally, the researcher explored the avenues that these students used to seek and obtain help from there instructors. The investigation followed a qualitative study approach given that the main intention was to develop a deeper understanding of social injustice issues experienced by Saudi International students while studying abroad and interacting with their tutors. The researcher utilize convenience sampling to limit his participants to only those who identified as male students from Saudi Arabia and studying in universities within the US

The findings obtained show that Saudi Arabia students face different social injustices while studying in the US as a result of the manner in which they relate with their instructors. Findings from both focus group discussions and individual interviews indicated that the students felt that there was a need for their teachers to consider their status as international and ESL students. One of the most significant issues raised by the participants was the failure by the instructors to recognize they are students. Based on the information that was gathered, the majority of the instructors failed to even know the names of your students. These international learners have to bear with instructors and that lack interest in them. As a result, they do not consider their language difficulties or educational background when teaching and fail to incorporate their culture into teaching. In the end, it becomes extremely difficult for these students to relate to what they have been taught.

Additionally, the research findings showed that a considerable number of Saudi ESL students studying abroad have been subjected to negative judgments and stereotyping as a result of the failure by the host community to understand their culture (Al-Romahe, 2008, p. 52). The researcher found that a number of Saudi students studying abroad had been labeled as cheaters. This form of stereotyping is harmful because it marginalized students from this particular cultural background and alienates them from the rest of the class. Al-Romahe quotes one of the participants who complained that his English teachers always denied him permission to go to the bathroom during tests and exams for fear that the student wanted to steal. Although cases of exam cheating involving non-Saudi students are common in institutions of higher learning, the Saudi ESL learners are the ones frequently put on the spot. The participants in this research indicated that the stereotyping could be as a result of a few past cases involving Saudi students. Moreover, they were very specific that being stereotyped as an exam cheater simply because another student from the same cultural background was caught teething several years ago is wrong and constitutes a social injustice.Social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

Altamimi (2016) has also conducted a study similar to that done by Al-Romahe (2008). Unlike Al-Romahe, however, this particular researcher focused on social injustices experienced by Saudi ESL female students studying abroad. The researcher’ main purpose was to shed light on social obstacles that hinder most Saudi females from mastering spoken English in Canadian learning settings. Altamimi is of the view that second language learners pay more attention to their ability to speak rather than learning to read or write. They, therefore, work hard to create their identity through language. She describes ESL students from Saudi Arabia as being dominated with the fear of losing face. They feel insecure and tend to lack confidence. These factors combined have a negative effect on the performance and can considerably lower their performance in English classrooms (Altamimi, 2016, p. 16). She concludes that since this issue would potentially affect all ESL learners, it will be of less concern for most Saudi female ESL students.

While referring to Saudi culture, Altamimi demonstrates how women from this background are expected to rely on males members of the society for nearly all the decisions that they make. As such, the majority of the female ESL students that go to study abroad tend to be unprepared to handle the genders roles in those countries, where educators expect them to demonstrate equal competences as their male counterparts. Nearly all of the teachers teaching the students have been educated and raised in western countries. Consequently, the majority of them tend to be unaware of the fact that female students from Saudi Arabia have been raised in a culture where every decision they make has to be verified with a male. In some cases, some educators have construed such behavior as childish. Moreover, the researcher points out that as a result of differences in, situation, female students from Saudi Arabia exhibit varying developmental trajectory (Altamimi, 2016, p. 16). In the past, this variation has proved to be problematic as a result of stereotyping especially where a given educator expects all her female students to adhere to the standard set by a particular student.Social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

One of the major obstacles faced by female ESL students from Saudi Arabia studying abroad is difficulties in adapting to the new learning environment. According to her, differences in values and attitudes have been problematic to Saudi female students learning the English language. When a student encounters culture shock or finds it hard to adjust to a given cultural adjustment, their ability to acquire a given target language is affected negatively (Buchanan, 1990, p. 83). Female ESL students experience difficulties when studying abroad as a result of failure by the institutions where they are enrolled to facilitate the adjustments to changes in procedure (Lefdahl-Davis & Perrone-McGovern, 2015, p. 9). Throughout their education system, students have been learning in an environment where they are separated on the basis of gender. In Saudi Arabia, female students are supposed to be taught by female teachers while my students are taught by male teachers. When these students go to study abroad, they experience being tutored by teachers of the opposite sex for the first time.

Saudi Students’ Views-social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

From the research conducted by Altamimi (2016) Saudi Arabia students viewed it as risk-taking when they were asked to take part in class discussions given that this exposed them to the possibility of being judged by their classmates. Due to the fear of losing face, some female students from Saudi Arabia decided not to speak aloud in class to avoid embarrassing themselves we’re making mistakes (Altamimi, 2016, p. 25). Most of the students that enroll in colleges and universities tend to be fearful of appearing stupid especially when they lack adequate vocabulary or ability to express themselves clearly in conversations. As a result, the majority of them avoid taking the risk to speak English with other students simply out of fear that other students will laugh at them. Cases of native speakers of English making fun of ESL students have been reported in the past. Altamimi concludes that students who do not utilize the available chances to speak out especially in class setting tend to have many more chances of practicing their L2. The researcher also found that students who are risk takers when it comes to speaking English as L2 learn the language quicker. Students who fail to express themselves clearly tend to be misunderstood by others. Moreover, they suffer from loss of identity.

It is evident that foreign learning institutions have failed to provide Saudi ESL students with a conducive learning environment. This is another social injustice that Saudi ESL students in different foreign countries experience. In most learning institutions, ESL students are put in the same class as students who are native speakers of English. Instead of building their self-confidence, this learning environment weakens their self-confidence. As Baumert and Schmitt (2016) have shown, this form of injustice has a negative impact on the grades of students. Normally, the ability of a student to learn a second language is hindered when they lack confidence in their abilities to do that which is required. Based on the research conducted, it is evident that self-confidence is an important factor in determining the willingness of a learner to take part in oral activities involving a second language in the classroom environment. The fear of speaking English by Saudi ESL students portrays their poor self-confidence.Social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

The analysis presented in this paper from different research on social injustice on Saudi ESL students shows that these learners face a number of issues when studying abroad. They are primarily a result of differences in culture. The results of this investigation reveal that there is a need to provide unique support and accommodation to these students due to the cultural and social challenges that they face in order to help them succeed. A high proportion of the challenges that they face are associated with difficulties in English language acquisition and cultural differences.

La Scala (2016) has also conducted research on Saudi students that go to study in the US. His research focused on the experiences of these students while studying in higher education institutions and their attitudes towards the political and social norms in the host country. The researcher then compared the results that he obtained to survey data gathered from students that continued to study in Saudi Arabia. Based on the results obtained from this comparison, the author concluded that Saudi students studying in the US developed a more favorable opinion of their host country than when they are still in Saudi Arabia. His research differs from those conducted by other people given that it does not identify social injustice as a major issue experienced by these students. To the contrary, the majority of students surveyed in this research approved the American education system and demonstrated much appreciation for the western values and greater gender equality.

La Scala (2016) begins his study by exploring the reasons behind the increased number of Saudi students studying abroad. According to him, the trend is influenced by the provision of thousands of scholarships by the government of Saudi Arabia. In order to explore the experiences of these students while studying abroad, the researcher employed a mixed methods approach that enabled him to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. The researcher found that Saudi students choose to study abroad with the hope of improving their job prospects upon returning home. The majority of them decided to study in English-speaking countries. According to them, being fluent in this language is an added advantage in their career prospects (La Scala, 2016, p. 191). He concludes that many students decide to study in the US despite the government offering scholarships to other non-English speaking countries.Social Injustice on Saudi ESL Students Abroad

The research conducted by La Scala (2016) presents detailed information regarding the experiences of Saudi students on different campuses from their personal perspective. The researcher presents information on the efforts made by higher education institutions to provide these foreign students with a sense of welcome and to assimilate them in their community to enable them to achieve academic success. From the analysis conducted, it was evident that ESL students from Saudi Arabia require help in order to adjust to the academic standards abroad. 38% of those interviewed were of the opinion that the college or university where they were studying did not offer sufficient academic support. The majority of these students cited a lack of sufficient training in dealing with plagiarism to be a major concern. Moreover, a significant proportion of ESL students required help in meeting and interacting with American students. Moreover, the majority of those surveyed indicated that the institutions do not fully meet their cultural and religious needs. Overall, La Scala (2016) found that Saudi students who come to study in the US tend to be more satisfied than those who remain in Saudi Arabia




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