Evaluating Basic English Language Courses in the Foundation Programme at an Educational

Bashar Abu Shunnar

Programme: Doctor of Education

Year of Graduation: 2019

Supervisor: Dr. Emad Abu-Ayyash

 

Evaluating Basic English Language Courses in the Foundation Programme at an Educational

Institute in the United Arab Emirates: Instructor and Student Perspectives

The current research study was designed with the purpose of evaluating the Basic English Language Courses (BELC) in the Foundation Programme (FP) at an educational institute in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Motivated by the apparent shortfall of requisite English language skills of UAE engineering and business graduates when it comes to securing employment, the current study investigated the suitability of English courses, and teaching methodologies. This was accomplished by eliciting the opinions of the programme participants regarding the programme’s quality. These outcomes subsequently formed the basis upon which programme improvements were suggested. BELC comprise three courses: 1) reading; 2) writing; and 3) conversation. Students in their first semester of institute enrolment must undertake these BELC courses, in order to enhance their English language ability.

The current study’s results demonstrate that BELC suffer from significant shortcomings which require attention. Deficiencies pertain to the physical environment of the institute site. These encompass antiquated buildings, a restricted amount of classrooms, shortfalls in pedagogic and didactic materials, resources and facilities, and insufficient library accoutrements. In accordance with the study’s conclusions, BELC goals and objectives also show salient concerns which call for reform.

 

The current study’s results also highlight student dissatisfaction with BELC course content and instructional materials and resources; citing uninteresting and unchallenging course topics, as well as obsolete textbooks. The programme’s instructional methodologies were criticised as being too traditionally oriented; the teaching methods as overly lecturer-centred. The study’s outcomes also reveal intense student criticism of the arcane and antiquated assessment philosophy employed by their lecturers. Such evaluative philosophy relies too heavily on one final course examination which tests only learnt content.

The current study contributes to the knowledge of language programme evaluation from various perspectives. It fills a vacuum in the scholarly literature of language programme evaluation, by specifically addressing the Emirati educational context. In addition, the current study contributes theoretically with regard to the social constructivism mode of inquiry in the Emirati context. Finally, the current study proposes an evaluation approach that can be applied, and modified, depending on the specifications of any given setting.

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