Teaching English Grammar to Arabs: An Exploratory Study into the Context of University Undergraduate EFL Classrooms in the UAE

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This study examines university teachers’ beliefs about grammar teaching in EFL undergraduate university classrooms in the UAE. It looks at the importance of grammar instruction in this context, the optimal method of teaching grammar, the challenges faced by teachers when dealing with this language area, the effect and method of grammatical error correction in addition to the impact of Arabic language interference on learning English grammar. A survey and interviews were used for this purpose. The survey consisted of seven demographic information questions, 28 closed-items questions of 5-point Likert scale (testing the extent of agreement or disagreement of respondents with the items) and three open-ended questions. The surveyed teachers were twelve males and ten females from different backgrounds working in various universities and higher education institutions in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, five of them were individually interviewed. Although the survey was originally paper-based, fifteen surveys were completed on paper, while the other seven were filled out online. The findings revealed that the majority of teachers appreciated the importance of grammar for mastering the language skills. Although they stressed the contextualized grammar, they believed that a combination of both explicit and implicit methods would be the best according to students’ level, learning style, etc. The challenges they have faced when teaching grammar have been the use of authentic material, students’ first language interference, students’ low language level and lack of motivation, in addition to the difficulty of some structures. Arabic language interference has been seen by the teachers as a stumbling block to grammar learning. Teachers do not focus on students’ speaking error, but as the grammar method, they use the explicit and implicit techniques for correcting the written errors. They believe that correcting errors helps improve students’ language level.
teaching English grammar, Arabs, university undergraduate, EFL classrooms, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Arabic language