Advertisement

English Language Proficiency and Communicative Competence in Oman: Implications for Employability and Sustainable Development

  • Rahma Al-MahrooqiEmail author
  • Christopher Denman
Chapter
Part of the English Language Education book series (ELED, volume 15)

Abstract

Within the Sultanate of Oman, English, as the country’s only official foreign language, is in great demand by the job market. The language is taught in the majority of government schools from the first grade and is the dominant medium of instruction at the tertiary level. However, despite the huge amount of human and financial resources the government channels into supporting English language instruction, this investment has apparently failed to deliver the expected gains with both secondary- and tertiary-level graduates often reported as being weak in the language and as having communication skills that are inadequate for the workforce. This lack of English proficiency and communicative competence is commonly cited as one of the major causes of the high levels of unemployment among Omani graduates. This paper examines a number of issues related to the ways in which English language proficiency and communicative competence are developed in Omani schools and universities, with a focus on the challenges that exist within the government education system. The implications of these challenges for graduate employability and sustainable development are explored, before recommendations for bridging the gap between graduates’ English language skills and the demands of the workforce in Oman are discussed.

Keywords

English proficiency EFL/ESL Oman Employability 

References

  1. Al-Busaidi, K. (1995). English in the labor market in multilingual Oman with special reference to Omani employees. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Exeter, UK.Google Scholar
  2. Al-Dhafiry, A. (2003). Unemployment in the Gulf countries: Reasons and remedies. Applied Econometrics and International Development, 3(3), 61–82.Google Scholar
  3. Al-Issa, A. (2007). The implications of implementing a ‘flexible’ syllabus for ESL policy in the Sultanate of Oman. RELC Journal, 38(1), 199–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Al-Issa, A. (2011). Advancing English language teaching research in Gulf Cooperation Council States’ universities. The Modern Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(2), 60–77.Google Scholar
  5. Al-Issa, A. S., & Al-Bulushi, A. H. (2012). English language teaching reform in Sultanate of Oman: The case of theory and practice disparity. Educational Research Policy Practice, 11(2), 141–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Al-Jadidi, H. S. (2009). Teaching English as a foreign language in Oman: An exploration of English language teaching pedagogy in tertiary education. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  7. Al-Mahrooqi, R. (2012). English communication skills: How are they taught at schools and universities in Oman? English Language Teaching, 5(4), 124–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Al-Mahrooqi, R., Abrar-ul-Hassan, S., & Asante, C. (2012). Analyzing the use of motivational strategies by EFL teachers in Oman. Malaysian Journal of ELT Research in Oman, 8(1), 36–76.Google Scholar
  9. Al-Mahrooqi, R., & Asante, C. (2010). Promoting autonomy by fostering a reading culture. In R. Al-Mahrooqi & V. Tuzlukova (Eds.), The Omani ELT symphony: Maintaining linguistic and socio-cultural equilibrium (pp. 477–494). Muscat, Oman: Sultan Qaboos University Academic Publication Board.Google Scholar
  10. Al-Mahrooqi, R., & Denman, C. J. (2014, April 8–9). English language proficiency and communicative competence in Oman: Implications for employability and sustainable development. Paper presented at Majan College international conference, Muscat, Oman.Google Scholar
  11. Al-Mahrooqi, R., & Tuzlukova, V. (2012a). Meeting employers’ needs: Communication skills in Omani tertiary education. A paper published in the Proceedings of the Oman symposium on management (pp. 208–231). Ibra, Oman: Ibra College of Technology Press.Google Scholar
  12. Al-Mahrooqi, R., & Tuzlukova, V. (2012b). Catering for the needs of the workplace: Do English classes in Oman impart key communication skills? A paper published in the Proceedings of the Oman symposium on management (pp. 232–256). Ibra, Oman: Ibra College of Technology Press.Google Scholar
  13. Al-Mahrooqi, R., & Tuzlukova, V. (2014). English communication skills and employability in the Arabian Gulf: The case of Oman. Pertanika Journal of Social Science & Humanities, 22(2), 473–488.Google Scholar
  14. Al Mukrashi, F. (2017, January 26). Bangladeshis top expat workers in Oman. Gulf News Oman. Retrieved from https://gulfnews.comGoogle Scholar
  15. Al-Shaqsi, H. (2012, January 11). Unemployment in Oman. Muscat, Oman: Daily. Retrieved from http://www.muscatdaily.com/
  16. Altbach, P. (2010, November 9–10). Notes on the future of SQU: Comparative perspectives. In Sultan Qaboos University (Ed.), Towards a long-term strategic plan for Sultan Qaboos University: Proceedings of the international workshop (pp. 3–9). Muscat, Oman: Sultan Qaboos University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Bachman, L. (1990). Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Bisong, J. (1995). Language choice and cultural imperialism. ELT Journal, 49(2), 129–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Canagarajah, S. (2006). Changing communicative needs, revised assessment objectives: Testing English as an international language. Language Assessment Quarterly, 3(3), 229–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Canale, M. (1983). From communicative competence to communicative language pedagogy. In J. C. Richards & R. Schmidt (Eds.), Language and communication (pp. 2–27). London: Longman.Google Scholar
  21. Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). The theoretical basis of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1, 1–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Charise, A. (2007). ‘More English, less Islam?’: An overview of English language functions in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. Retrieved from The University of Toronto, Department of English. http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/eng6365-charise.htm
  23. Clark, C., & Formby, S. (2013). Young people’s views on literacy skills and employment. London: National Literacy Trust.Google Scholar
  24. Coperías Aguilar, M. J. (2009). Intercultural communicative competence in the context of the European higher education area. Language and Intercultural Communication, 9(4), 242–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Craig, R. T. (1999). Communication theory as a field. Communication Theory, 9(2), 119–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Crystal, D. (1992). An encyclopedic dictionary of language and languages. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  27. Crystal, D. (1997). English as a global language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Crystal, D. (2002). English in the new world. Babylonia, 1, 16–17.Google Scholar
  29. Ediagbonya, K., & Oyadongha, D. (2013). Survey on employability skills among post graduate students of business education in Edo State. European Journal of Educational Studies, 5(2), 197–207.Google Scholar
  30. Findlow, S. (2006). Higher education and linguistic dualism in the Arab Gulf. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 27(1), 19–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Forstenlechner, I., & Rutledge, E. (2010). Unemployment in the Gulf: Time to update the “social contract”. Middle East Policy, 17(2), 38–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gonzalez, G., Karoly, L., Constant, L., Salem, H., & Goldman, C. (2008). Facing human challenges of the 21st century. Doha, Qatar: RAND-Qatar Policy Institute.Google Scholar
  33. Graddol, D. (2006). English Next: Why global English may mean the end of “English as a foreign language”. London: The British Council. Retrieved January 1, 2012, from http://www.britishcouncil.org/learning-research-english-next.pdf
  34. Issan, S., & Gomaa, N. (2010). Post basic education reforms in Oman: A case study. Literacy Information and Computer Education Journal, 1(1), 19–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ji, P. (2008). Pragmatics and pedagogy in college English teaching. Shanghai, China: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Leech, G. (1983). Principles of pragmatics. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  38. Macey, E. (2013). Employers’ views on youth literacy and employability. London: NationalLiteracy Trust. Retrieved from http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0001/7766/Employer_perspective.pdf.
  39. Maclean, R. (2010). Education for sustainable development and skills development for employability: Lessons from the private sector. 16th IVETA-CPSC international conference, Manila, Philippines, 3–5 November. Retrieved from http://iveta2010.cpsctech.org/downloads/materials/full%20papers/
  40. Ministry of Education. (2004). National report on quality education in Oman. Muscat, Oman: Author. Retrieved from http://www.ibe.unesco.org/International/ICE47/English/Natreps/reports/oman_part_1.pdf.
  41. Ministry of Education. (2010a). Draft syllabus framework for English for private schools and list of approved course book/materials for private, global and international schools. Muscat, Oman: Author.Google Scholar
  42. Ministry of Education. (2010b). The English language curriculum framework. Muscat, Oman: Author.Google Scholar
  43. Moates, J. (2006). Final report. The Sultanate of Oman: Ministry of Education.Google Scholar
  44. Moody, J. (2009). A neglected aspect of ELT in the Arabian Gulf: Who is communication between? In L. J. R. Zhang, R. Rubdy, & L. Alsagoff, L. (Eds.), Englishes and literatures-in-English in a globalized world: Proceedings of the 13th international conference on English in Southeast Asia (pp. 99–119). Singapore, Singapore: National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University.Google Scholar
  45. Moody, J. (2012). A critique of the concept of EFL in the Arabian Gulf countries. In A. Mahmoud & R. Al-Mahrooqi (Eds.), Issues in teaching and learning English as a foreign language in the Arab world (pp. 9–32). Muscat, Oman: Sultan Qaboos University’s Academic Publications Board.Google Scholar
  46. Mustafa, G. (2012). From legendry love of books into TV hooks. Perspectives, 19(1), 28–30.Google Scholar
  47. Nnabuo, P. O., & Asodike, J. D. (2012). Exploring education as a tool for sustainable development in Nigeria. European Scientific Journal, 8(10), 1–11.Google Scholar
  48. Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Renard, O. (2010, November 9–10). Towards a long-term strategic plan for Sultan Qaboos University: Proceedings of the international workshop. Muscat, Oman: Sultan Qaboos University’s Academic Publications Board.Google Scholar
  50. Richards, J. C. (2006). Communicative language teaching today. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Roche, T., & Harrington, M. (2013). Recognition vocabulary skill as a predictor of academic English performance and academic achievement in English. Language Testing in Asia, 3(12), 133–144.Google Scholar
  52. Savignon, S. J. (1972). Communicative competence: An experiment in foreign-language teaching. Philadelphia, PA: Center for Curriculum Development.Google Scholar
  53. Savignon, S. J. (1983). Communicative competence: Theory and classroom practice. Texts and contexts in second language learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing.Google Scholar
  54. Savignon, S. J. (2002). Interpreting communicative language teaching: Contexts and concerns in teacher education. London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Sharifian, F. (Ed.). (2009). English as an international language: Perspectives and pedagogical issues. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  56. Sharifian, F., & Jamarani, M. (Eds.). (2013). Language and intercultural communication in the new era. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Siddiqi, M. (2011). Creating jobs for global markets. Middle East, 420, 33–37.Google Scholar
  58. Tedick, D. J., & Walker, C. L. (1994). Second language teacher education: The problems that plague us. The Modern Language Journal, 78(3), 300–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Thomas, J. (1983). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied linguistics, 4(2), 91–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tuzlukova, V., & Al-Mahrooqi, R. (2011). English discourse of tourism: Example of Oman. Cross Cultural Studies, 24, 315–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. UNESCO. (n.d.). Literacy: Tool for sustainable development and key to lifelong learning. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/Afghanistan.pdf
  62. Usó-Juan, E., & Martínez-Flor, A. (2006). Approaches to language learning and teaching: Towards acquiring communicative competence through the four skills. In E. Usó-Juan & A. Martínez-Flor (Eds.), Current trends in the development and teaching of the four language skills (pp. 3–26). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Uso-Juan, E., & Martinez-Flor, A. (2008). Teaching intercultural communicative competence through four skills. Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses, 21, 157–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Van Ek, J. A. (1986). Objectives for foreign language learning. Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe.Google Scholar
  65. Voith, D. (2013). Ways to fight unemployment by means of education. Horizon, 271, 4.Google Scholar
  66. Widdowson, H. G. (1983). Learning purpose and language use. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sultan Qaboos UniversityMuscatOman

Personalised recommendations