From EFL to ESL in the Eye of Saudi Vision 2030

Dalal A. Bahanshal *

King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Aims: Starting with the definitions of EFL and ESL, this paper aims to explore the transformation from teaching English as a foreign language to a second language in the context of Saudi Arabia to cope with the promising Saudi Vision 2030. At all levels, teaching in the Saudi context is inclined to be EFL teaching. However, English language proficiency has become an emergent need to determine the employment value in the competitive job market, nationally and internationally. Therefore, the transformation to ESL teaching is a focus nowadays for modulating the evolution of English Classroom Teaching in Saudi Arabia.

Study Design: This study is a qualitative one that uses a semi-structured interview has been conducted at the participants' convenient time and venue. 

Place and Duration of Study: The study has taken place at one of the languages Institute (ELI) at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during the second semester of the academic year 2021 – 2022.

Methodology: The participants who took part in this study are six female English teachers, Saudis, and non-Saudis, holding Ph.D. and master's degrees in different fields of language teaching with teaching experience varying from 5 years to more than 10 years. 

Results: The study sought to investigate the university English language teachers' beliefs about the transformation of teaching English from a foreign language to a second language in line with SAV 2030. Data analysis has brought a variety of issues considering the benefits of shifting from EFL teaching and learning to ESL, the obstacles related to such a transit, the challenges that may be encountered throughout the transition process, and the adaption readiness of all stakeholders, educational policymakers, teachers, and students. Looking at participants' responses to the research questions, it was found that they were in agreement with the transformation from EFL to ESL. The study's findings were categorized according to the responses to the four research questions.

Conclusion: Since the declaration of VAS 2030, higher institutions in the kingdom have obliged their educational policies to an influential reformation that drives improvements in higher education to reach the successes intended by VAS 2030. The study results have provided substantial evidence that teaching the English language as an ESL rather than an EFL will conclusively add to Saudi English learners' skills and proficiency levels.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, job market, Saudi vision 2030, transformation

How to Cite

Bahanshal , D. A. (2023). From EFL to ESL in the Eye of Saudi Vision 2030. Asian Journal of Education and Social Studies, 48(4), 1–10.


Vision 2030; 2017) Available:

Ministry of Education. General education foundations in Saudi Arabia; 2019.

Available: neral-Principles.aspx

Al-Harbi HA. Improving students' English-speaking proficiency in Saudi public schools. International Journal of Instruction. 2015;8(1):105-116.

Al-Nasser AS. Problems of english language acquisition in Saudi Arabia: An exploratory-cum-remedial study. Theory and Practice in Language Studies. 2015;5(8):1612-1618.

Dakhiel M. Factors affecting the quality of English language teaching in the preparatory year, University of Jeddah. English Language Teaching. 2017; 10(7):43-60.

Ministry of Education. Vision and mission; 2019.

Available: aspx

Al-Omran A. Record numbers of foreign workers leave Saudi Arabia; 2018.


Al-Asmari A, Khan S. World Englishes in the EFL Teaching in Saudi Arabia. Arab World English Journal. 2014;5(1):316-325. Available:

Liu M. Observation and Reflection on ESL Teaching at the University of Wisconsin Madison[J]. Foreign Language World. 2011;60-65.

Picard M. The future of EFL and TESOL in Saudi Arabia. In English as a foreign language in Saudi Arabia. Routledge; 2018. Available:

Liakopoulou M. The professional competence of teachers: Which qualities, attitudes, skills, and knowledge contribute to a teacher's effectiveness? A Thesis of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; 2011.

Mustafa M. Professional competency differences among high school teachers in Indonesia. International Education Studies. 2013;6(9):83-92.

Umiyati J. The profile of english teachers' professional competence and students' achievement at SMA Negeri 1 Enrekang. Edumaspul - Jurnal Pendidikan. 2017;1(2):61-77.

Kachru B. The Other Tongue. English Across Cultures. Urbana, Ill; 1982.

Elyas T, Al Grigri WH. Obstacles to teaching English in Saudi Arabia public schools: Teachers' and supervisors' perceptions. International Journal of English Language Teaching. 2014;2 (3):74-89.

Dörnyei Z. Innovations and challenges in language learning motivation. Routledge; 2020.

Getie AS. Factors affecting the attitudes of students towards learning English as a foreign language. Cogent Education. 2020; 7(1):1738184.

Shamim F, Abdelhalim A, Hamid N. English medium instruction in the transition year: Case from KSA. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ). 2016;7(1):32-47. Available:

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030; 2016. Available:

Al-Zahrani A. Markets and language policy in Saudi Arabia: How the english language can contribute to the success of the Saudi Vision 2030. International Journal of English Language and Linguistics Research. 2017;5(6):1-12.

Arcand JL, Grin F. 11 language in economic development: Is English special and is linguistic fragmentation bad? English and Development: Policy, Pedagogy, and Globalization. 2013; 17:243.

O'Rourke H, Collins L, Sidani S. Interventions to address social connectedness and loneliness for older adults: A scoping review. BMC Geriatrics. 2018;18(1):214.

Eliasson G. The role of knowledge in economic growth. Stockholm: Royal Institute of Technology; 1998.

Hejazi W, Ma J. Gravity, the English language, and international business. Multinational Business Review. 2011; 19(2):152-167.

Lee C. English language and economic growth: Cross-country empirical evidence. Journal of Economic and Social Studies. 2012;2(1):5.

Jonsen K, Maznevski ML, Schneider SC. Special review article: Diversity and its not so diverse literature: An international perspective. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management. 2011;11(1): 35-62.

Zarei A, Zarei N. The role of language proficiency in self-related personality traits. Manager's Journal on English Language Teaching. 2015;5(3):6-16.

Novikova I, Berisha N, Novikov A, Shlyakhta D. Personality traits and foreign language proficiency in Russian linguistics and non-linguistics students. RUDN Journal of Psychology and Pedagogics. 2020;17(3):426-439.

Zabihi R. Personality in english language proficiency and achievement. Continental J. Education Research. Wilolud Journals. 2011;4:1 – 6.

Al-Yami H. Future plan to improve education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in light of the Kingdom's 2030 Vision". Arab Journal of Sciences & Research Publishing. 2018;26(2):32-49.

Kochergina E, Nye J, Orel E. The Big Five traits as predictors of academic achievements in university students. Psychological Studies. 2013;(27):4–10.

Rapley E. Seeing the light': Personal epiphanies and moving towards interpretivism; A researcher's tale of exploring teacher pedagogic practice. Ethnography and Education. 2018;13 (2):185-203.

DOI: 10.1080/17457823.2017.1315311

Yusuf N. Changes required in Saudi universities curriculum to meet the demands of 2030 Vision". International Journal of Economics and Finance. 2017;9(9):111-116. Available

Al-Qahtani, M. The Use of Technology in English Language Teaching. Frontiers in Education Technology. 2019;2(3):168-180.

Moore M. The transtheoretical model of the stages of change and the phases of transformative learning: Comparing two theories of transformational change. Journal of Transformative Education. 2005;3(4):394-415.