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Abstract

English is the main foreign language in schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Even though the Kingdom has made considerable budgetary sacrifices to raise English proficiency in the country, the results do not yet match expectations. According to English First (EF), in 2019, Saudi Arabia ranked “very low” on the English Proficiency Index (EPI). We dig deeper to understand why a few succeed where most fail. In so doing, we examine the learning opportunities and practices of (KSA-F1), a female Saudi teacher of English, to understand the secrets of her success. We also study her pronunciation of English vowels to see where improvement is still needed. Aspects of the paper focus on the description of her social network and her acoustic vowel space. The analysis reveals that in spite of the strides that she has made, her vowels [ɪ] and [e] mask each other internally, while her vowels [æ] and [ɔ] mask General American English (GAE) [ɑ] and [ʊ] respectively. Given the high relative functional load of the masked the vowels, except for [ɔ] vs. [ʊ], intelligibility can be easily jeopardized if the discourse context lacks sufficient syntactic redundancies.

Creative Commons License

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

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