Issues in Integrating Information Technology in Learning and Teaching EFL: the Saudi Experience by Al-Maini


            Al-Maini acknowledges the fact there are several challenges noted when integrating information technology within the process of teaching and learning EFL in intermediate schools in Saudi Arabia’s capital city. Within the article , “Issues in Integrating Information Technology in Learning and Teaching EFL: the Saudi Experience”, Al-Maini refers to the Watani project to provide a picture of the information background to the use of IT in education in the region. Al-Maini adopts an interpretative approach in the article where the author provides an insight into the current state of the utilization of ICT facilities in two intermediate schools in the region.

            In the Abstract section of the research, the author outlines the need of the study by looking into the background of the research. The author also provides an outlook of the current state of the area of research. Furthermore, the author highlights the major issues that will be addressed in the article with regards to the exploitation of the potential of IT within the field of intermediate schools in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, within the Abstract, the author outlines the conclusion of the research. At this point, the author derives that requisite training foresees a great exploitation of IT when it comes learning English Language. As a result, it is highly recommended due to the fact that it can benefit both teachers and learners during it implementation.

            Within the introduction section of the article, the author introduces the main aspects discussed in the research. At this stage, Al-Maini explains that information communication technology plays a requisite role in the field of education by improving the learning and teaching process. The author depicts that ICT motivates learners, enhances teacher’s training and facilitates the process of acquiring basic skills. The author puts it that with the vast power of ICT to enhance education, the Saudi Arabian government should remain committed to enhancing its education administration through the adoption of the technology. The author shows that this can be achieved by equipping schools with computers that will expose them to the integrated network. This is one of the requirements of the Watni project that was onset in the year 2000. Despite this, the main goals of the  projects have not yet been ascertained due to the issues associated with the system. For instance, lack of confidence in utilizing the technology within the classroom is one of the drawbacks noted.

            The author further provides a definition of ICT as a link between informatics technology and other associated technologies, particularly communication technology. Additionally, ICT can also be defined as a set of technologies aimed at manipulating, storing or creating data for user access. With the provided definitions it is evident that ICT tools can improve on the ability of teachers and learners when implemented in the field of education.

            By looking at the background section of the article, it is prevalent that the author points out that ICT has benefited the education field by enhancing communication between the teacher and students. With the Watani project, the Ministry of education was to easily communicate with schools in Saudi Arabia through the incorporation of computers and internet in classrooms. The project was to be accomplished in a set of 4 phases such as design, extension, completion, and follow-up stage. Thereafter, the teachers were to be provided with guides and e-books teaching. Furthermore, the author reveals the Tatweer project that the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia was to utilize in boosting teaching and learning in classrooms. The present study section shows that the current research is a qualitative research that is descriptive in nature. The research is conducted in Riyadh with an aim of  exploring English teaching as a foreign language.

            Under the section of “Status and the use of ICT facilities” it is evident that computers enhance language learning through the implementation of a communicative approach. Despite this, the author shows that in Riyadh, schools that had computers and network systems installed utilized the systems for administration purposes other than learning. For instance, the systems were used for storing assignments with the emails replacing paper communication. However, most schools in the region had a learning network in place where theoretical learning was carried out. Al-Maini shows that interviewed English teachers recognized the fact that modern technology implemented in teaching English greatly benefited the process of teaching. Despite this, governmental intermediate schools in the region did not have language laboratories. This is accrued to a number of reasons such as lack of necessary training, high costs of equipment and teacher resistance. As a result, the teachers implemented the text-book method as well as grammar translation when teaching English. This did not yield much positive results in the learning outcome. Additionally, a teacher with over 20 years experience considered the use of ICT in teaching as an additional task and preferred the use of the traditional form of teaching over the ICT-based one. The author also shows that teacher resistance to the use of technology in teaching meant drifting away from the current methods implemented in learning which means a discipline breakdown among the students. Despite the presented concerns, lack of technical proficiency was the main reason why teachers refrain from the use of ICT in teaching English language in Riyadh.

            Under “Training”, the author shows that the confidence and competence of the teachers in utilizing technology in teaching English can only be enhanced through training. Training will expose the teacher to technology usage and enhance their skills hence integrate the technology in teaching. In-service training is one of the trainings to be considered in this case. Within the section of “Budget and Resource Constraints”, the author shows that inadequacy of resources makes it difficult for teachers to implement the use of technology in teaching English language. Besides, shortage of the ICT facilities also act as hindrance factors. The conclusion section provides a recap of the main points discussed in the article.

            Having looked at the presented research closely, it is evident that the author has developed the concept of the use of ICT in teaching and learning well. It is easy to understand the issues that are discouraging the implementation of the ICT technology in learning English Language in governmental intermediate schools in Riyadh. The fact that the author has subheading for the work makes it easier to identify the actions to be implemented to ensure the implementation of the technology in learning. Despite this, the author should have considered using tables and graphs to outlines the research findings. This would make it easier to understand the research finding other than going through the entire section documenting the findings. 



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