English Language Proficiency and Code-Switching in the Saudi EFL University Classrooms: Learners’ Perspectives

Arafat Hamouda, Fahad Hamad Aljumah


The aim of this study is to identify the perceptions and practices of students with various proficiency levels toward reasons, factors, functions of using CS by learners and, teachers’ using CS in EFL classes, and its impact on the teaching and learning processes. To this end, sixty-four English majors were chosen out of 70 Saudi university students. The participants were classified into three groups (i.e. three levels of high, mid, and low-proficiency) according to the scores obtained in the Oxford Placement Test. A qualitative and quantitative design was used throughout the integration of questionnaires, in-class observations, and interviews to reach valid and reliable data. The results of the quantitative and qualitative analysis indicate that most mid- and low-proficient students have favorable attitudes towards the use of CS in the EFL classroom, whereas the high proficient students have negative perceptions towards the use of CS. The findings also indicate that the participants with lower proficiency tend to use CS more than the intermediate or advanced ones. In addition to this, there are some discrepancies in attitudes towards the usages of CS among the three participant groups. These discrepancies display that the mid and low -proficient students see the use of CS as an influential teaching and learning tool to facilitate students’ comprehension and knowledge of target language grammar and vocabulary. On the other hand, the high proficient participants see that CS can be off-putting as it does not help in improving their linguistic competence in English. In addition, the findings showed that there is a negative relationship between learners’ proficiency level and their attitude toward using CS. The findings have some implications for teachers, material developers and English policy makers.


attitudes, code-switching, factors, functions, proficiency

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