Learning to Present in English: Exploring the Voices of Preparatory-Year Female Undergraduates in Saudi Arabia
Keywords: EFL classrooms, oral presentations, preparatory year, qualitative case study, Saudi university students, social practices, speaking skill
This study examines how a group of students enrolled in preparatory year program at a Saudi university describe their experiences while engaging with a specific literacy event, i.e. oral presentations in an English as a Foreign Language classroom. It adopts a case study methodology that relies on qualitative data-collection techniques, including reflections written by female undergraduates, informal conversations with these undergraduates, observational fieldnotes of classroom activities and a research journal. Relying on a social understanding of literacy, collected data are thematically analysed to examine how students view their experiences in this academic literacy event. Three major themes are highlighted in this study in relation to students’ experiences with this event: topic choice, fear and anxiety and the gains and losses associated with learning to prepare and make short presentations in English. Discussion sheds light on the impact of these experiences on the identity positions that learners develop and negotiate to participate in this event. It also highlights some of the challenges that mediate students’ experiences in this event and how they recognize and address these challenges. The study draws attention to the need for more in-depth, qualitative research to examine academic literacy events in tertiary education in which learners’ voices are brought to light to explore the situated nature of learning and its impact on learners.