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Silence behind the Veil: An Exploratory Investigation into the Reticence of Female Saudi Arabian Learners of English
This study explores the complexity of language learner silence in the female Saudi Arabian university English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom. To this end, a combination of two methodologies was used. First, a total of 296 students from 12 EFL classrooms were observed using the COPS structured observation scheme (King, 2013a, b) to measure the extent of silence and to identify relevant patterns of learner reticence. Second, to gain deeper insights into the participants' attitudes and feelings about silence in the EFL classroom, we used two complementary qualitative methods: semi-structured interviews and stimulated recall sessions. The results suggest the existence of three interrelated groups of factors associated learner silence in the study's research context —(i) factors related to prevailing EFL teaching styles in Saudi Arabia; (ii) socio-psychological factors; and (iii) underlying cultural factors associated with the value of silence and the role of women in Saudi society. The findings highlight the complexity of Saudi Arabian female students' silence and emphasize the need to view language learner silence as a multi-dimensional phenomenon.
Author affiliationSchool of Arts, University of Leicester
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)