The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Robinson

Second Advisor

Isolde Mueller

Third Advisor

Judith Dorn

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

motivation, attitudes, Saudi ESL students


The King Abdullah scholarship program has opened the door for a massive number of Saudi students to travel overseas for higher education. The United States has been chosen by the majority of those students as a favorite destination to complete their education. As a result, the number of Saudi Arabian students who study in the United States has increased dramatically. Nearly all-Saudi students who come to the U.S. need to learn English in order to satisfy the English language admission requirement that is needed to obtain admissions to universities and colleges in the U.S.

Research shows that language learners’ motivation and attitude are one of the most important factors that can influence the success or failure in second language learning. Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine and investigate: (1) Saudi students’ types of motivation for learning English as a second language in the U.S., (2) Saudi students’ attitudes toward learning English and toward the native English speakers in the U.S., and (3) Saudi students’ willingness to invest effort and money in learning English. In addition, the study explores the relation between their motivational and attitudinal behavior and certain selected demographic characteristics, namely gender, length of stay in the U.S., and academic level (ESL, undergraduate, graduate).

A questionnaire and an interview were developed and used to collect data from participants. A total of 181 Saudi Arabian students who were studying at different schools and universities in the U.S. participated in the questionnaire, and seven of them were selected to participate in a follow up interview. The results of the questionnaire and the interview showed that the majority of the participants, regardless of their gender, length of stay, and academic level, had high extrinsic motivation to learn English, positive attitudes toward learning English, positive attitudes toward the native English speakers in the U.S., and a high willingness to learn English. In comparison to male students, female students showed higher intrinsic motivation to learn English and a higher positive attitude toward learning English and toward the native English speakers in the U.S. The participants who did not have scholarships were more willing to invest effort and money in learning English than the participants who did have scholarships. Although the interviewees did have a complete positive vision of the U.S. and its people before coming to the U.S., their vision had changed after coming to the U.S., and they had developed some negative attitudes toward the native English speakers in the U.S.