Language ranks as one of the most crucial aspects of higher education, especially for students who are studying abroad. A good example is students from Saudi Arabia who are pursuing their studies in the United States. As stated by the Institute of International Education (2014), Saudi Arabia is among the leading nations that are sending their students abroad for higher education. However, when the students arrive in the US, they must make major adjustments, especially speaking the English language as they pursue their respective studies (Pedersen, 1994). For many Saudi Arabian students, this adjustment is one of the most challenging issues. Despite getting the much-needed funding to support their education, adapting to the US culture, especially conversing in the English language has become a thorny issue that affects their studies.

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Notably, English proficiency among Saudi Arabian graduates studying in the USA is known to exist due to the long time education system of Republic of Saudi Arabia. This is because their education system from kindergarten to the twelfth grade emphasizes on absolute knowledge, which is delivered through of a rote method of learning (Unruh, & Obeidat, 2015). Most of the students who go through the system have English proficiency issues when they fly to the US for studies.

Most Saudi Arabian students studying in the US admits that homesickness is another major challenge that they experience in the US. This is because they are required to adapt to the US culture. The students are expected to adjust their English literacy levels to match other students who do not face difficulties in speaking the English language (Pedersen, 1994). This situation increases the learning pressure due to the short period that they have to learn and be fluent in the English language while at the same time pursuing their studies. At times, most of these students feel like their American counterparts look down upon them due to language barrier.

Notably, language barrier poses a great challenge to the students in terms of comprehending the educational system and engaging in their day-to-day activities (Kwon, 2009). According to Mori (2000), international student’s find it difficult to socialize and study using the English language. Given the rise of Saudi students seeking to study in US colleges, it is significant for them to understand English proficiency challenges and experiences. This understanding will not only help in encouraging them to work hard despite of the cultural differences but also look for innovative ways to be proficient in speaking the English language.

It is important to study this issue for purposes of finding solutions, thus, helping Saudi Arabian students to be proficient in the English language. The possible recommendations will help in enabling adjustments in the Saudi Arabian educational system, especially, introducing English lessons in the syllabuses. This will enable these students to have an easy time as they further their studies in the US because of their comprehension of the English language.

  • Institute of International Education (2015). Open Doors 2014: International students in the United States and study abroad by American students are at all-time high. Retrieved from 17-Open-Doors-Data
  • Kwon, Y. (2009). Factors affecting international students’ transition to higher education institutions in the United States.–from the perspective of office of international students. College Student Journal, 43(4).
  • Pedersen, P. (1994). International students and international student advisers. Improving intercultural interactions: Modules for cross-cultural training programs, 148-167.
  • Mori, S. C. (2000). Addressing the mental health concerns of international students. Journal of counseling & development, 78(2), 137-144.
  • Unruh, S., & Obeidat, B. (2015). Adjusting to Learning in the US: Saudi Students Speak Out. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 15(4). 45-56.