Perceptions of globalization among English language students at Kuwait University: voices of ownership

Kamal, A. (2012) Perceptions of globalization among English language students at Kuwait University: voices of ownership. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kent.


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This thesis explores the role of English in the lives of students at Kuwait University. The study
unveils a complex interplay between students’ attitudes towards learning English and their
interpretations of globalization, which is something that is not usually recognized in the

The study was conducted using qualitative research methodology encompassing
ethnographic observations, conversations, and semi-structured interviews. The majority of the
data was collected from 17 to 24 year old Kuwaiti students enrolled in the Health Sciences
program at Kuwait University. In addition, conversations with five English language teachers at
the same university are included to highlight the tension that exists between teacher expectations
and learner performance in the classroom.

The main findings of the research reveal that the students had a very pragmatic view of
the use of English. As a result, their attitudes inside the classroom did not accurately reflect the
importance of English in the rest of their lives. Rather, this importance emerged in how they
negotiated the use of English outside of the English language classroom. It was found that the use
of English was directly related to how they positioned themselves both within their local social
context and in the world. Therefore, although teacher perceptions highlighted students’ resistance
towards learning English, what became evident through the data analysis was that student
attitudes were strongly connected to their interpretations of the sociocultural context in which
they were functioning. This also reinforces the importance of adopting a critical cosmopolitan
perspective to understand the complexity behind social action rather than relying on simplified
and generalized cultural explanations. In addition, the disconnect between student and teacher
perceptions brings attention to the continuing prevalence of problems of essentialism in the field
of English language teaching and highlights the necessity of being more aware of Othering
discourses as well as the relevance of considering context when trying to understand student
attitudes towards language learning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Hudson
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2013 11:09
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 09:53

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00