The Perspectives of Emirati Grade 12 Students on Writing Challenges in the English Language in the UAE Public Secondary Schools

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The purpose of this explanatory mixed-methods study is to examine Emirati Grade 12 students’ perspectives on the challenges they face when writing in English. The researcher explores the issue of writing from students’ perspectives because their voices on the challenges they encounter in writing English have been overlooked while so much attention is often focused on teachers’ views and techniques. The theoretical framework draws on Spolsky’s (1989) and Grabe’s (2001) list of learning conditions to teach L2. Additionally, the study considers the findings of the meta-analysis of best writing instructions for adolescent students conducted by Graham and Perin (2007). The study was conducted at thirty-two public secondary schools located within six emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) utilising three research questions. These were answered by employing a sequential explanatory mixed-methods design using a quantitative questionnaire administered to (n=1562) EFL Grade 12 students. Then, the findings of the questionnaire made it possible to prepare a series of semi-structured interviews with 15 students whose writing was analysed to focus on the difficulties they faced with this skill set. Findings were discussed with two focus groups of six teachers of English from the six educational zones as well as three English curriculum specialists from the curriculum department at the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Dubai. Descriptive and inferential analyses were carried out using SPSS while qualitative data obtained from interviews and focus groups were summarised to bring out the relevant themes. The findings indicated that the writing challenges, identified by students, were somewhat in line with the results of previous studies in which only teachers’ opinions were considered. However, there were some dissimilarities, especially in relation to the teachers’ and the MoE’s responsibilities towards the development of students’ writing skills. Similarly, most of the participants in the study were aware of the prominence of concerted efforts to help in bridging the gap between high school graduates’ writing performance and the requirements of higher education institutions. One of the most important implications of this study is the necessity to adopt a national writing strategy whose implementation would raise the level of students’ writing abilities so that they can pursue higher education easily and conveniently.
Language arts (Secondary)., students’ perspectives, writing conditions, Emirati students, English language, United Arab Emirates (UAE), public secondary schools