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Impact of the English-Only Policy on Learners at International Schools from the Perspective of Teachers and Parents: A Sociocultural Study in the Saudi Context

Ali Alsaawi
English Department, College of Education, Majmaah University.
Fahad Almulhim
Department of English, College of Arts, King Faisal University
Keywords: Language Learning, English-only Policy, Culture, Foreign Language, Social, International School ,


In Saudi Arabia, the policy of English-only approach to instruction adopted by many international schools has been potentially affected by the host country’s language and culture. This study explores the issue of sociocultural influence of English-only policy from the perspective of parents and teachers in Saudi Arabia. The study used a mixed-method approach, utilizing a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews as data collection instruments from randomly selected parents and teachers. The results revealed that parents were keen to enroll their children in international schools to give them better opportunities in the job market. Neither the parents nor the teachers explicitly reported impact of the English-only policy on issues such as awareness of different cultures or celebrating Western cultural occasions. However, they did express other social impacts, such as bullying, using taboo terms, and cursing among peers. The findings of this study are in line with previous literature showing increasing interest among families in emerging countries in enrolling their children in international schools. However, parents’ motivations are not exclusively linguistic, culture-related factors, including cultivating respect for time, openness, and acceptance of different opinions were highlighted. Thus, it seems that extra-linguistic factors are also a driver for parents choosing international schools.