Impact of workshops on seven EFL teachers’ beliefs and practices concerning L1 use in a Saudi Arabian university
This study addresses a gap in the literature illustrating the effect of workshops on teachers’ beliefs and practices about the use of L1 in Saudi Arabia. Responding to the growing interest in the pedagogy of foreign language teaching worldwide, this study contributes to knowledge regarding how non-native English speaking teachers implement L1 in their teaching, and the extent to which systematic engagement with professional development workshops has the potential to influence their beliefs and practices. The research examines the effect of workshops on the employment of Arabic (L1) in foreign English (L2) classrooms, and on the beliefs and practices of seven female in-service teachers working at an English Institute in a Saudi university. Data was collected using a survey, one-to-one interviews, and classroom observations, conducted before and after the workshops. The findings revealed that before the workshops, all seven teachers shared the assumption that L1 is necessary to compensate for students’ lack of proficiency in L2, especially when teaching lower level students. However, they felt conflicted about their use of L1. They considered it undesirable yet at the same time deemed it unavoidable. After attending the workshops, six of the participants still regarded their use of L1 unacceptable and four continued to express guilt about not using enough L2. In the post-treatment observations, it was noted that the percentage of the teachers’ L1 use had fallen. Attending the workshops had heightened their awareness about their beliefs and practices and prompted them to reflect on how they might use L1 for teaching in a principled way. All seven teachers reported their beliefs had principally originated from their personal L2 teaching experiences. The data analysis indicates that teachers’ stated beliefs were not always congruent with their practices. Arguably, any change in teachers’ beliefs and practices is highly individual and coloured by multiple factors related to their background, education, experience, personality, and the educational policy of the English Institute at which they are employed. Moreover, this study shows that even though beliefs are deeply rooted, raising awareness can assist teachers to reflect on those beliefs, thereby altering practices. These findings might benefit designers of in-service programmes promotion of teachers’ professional growth in the domain of language teacher education.