Date of Award

1-29-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Patrick Bizzaro, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to utilize the framework of needs assessment to explore the perceptions of employers about the English business communication (EBC) literacy needs of several Saudi EFL workplaces. These perceptions, in turn, can contribute to designing or revising ESP courses for business students to meet the requirements of the job market. The study particularly investigated the extent of English language use in the jobs of business employees, and the required EBC literacies and skills for employees to perform different business communication activities. The study used a mixed methods research design, and the participants were employers from 10 private companies in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. A total of 77 employer surveys were used in this study, representing the 10 workplaces. Out of 77 participants, nine employers participated in semi-structured, in-depth interviews, and seven of them took part in follow-up interviews. The findings indicated that English is the business lingua franca of Saudi workplace, and has undergone noticeable changes due to extensive contact with non-native speakers of English and extensive use of electronic media. Employers emphasized that successful businesses require English business communication skills for employees' productivity, career success, and clients' satisfaction. They perceived that the most important English skills for their workplaces are listening, followed by speaking, writing, and reading. Other workplace literacies such as interpersonal, intercultural, teamwork, and lifelong learning skills as well as business ethics are highly needed in performing or participating in most of the work tasks and communication activities. Four themes were noted in the study. The themes pointed out to the prominence of informal oral communication in the workplace, the technological, linguistic and cultural complexity of the Saudi workplace and workplace communication, the necessity of whole person coaching for English literacy and cultural awareness, and, of course, the view of English as a basic asset in the workplace. Additionally, the results indicated that a literacy gap exists between current EBC education and workplace needs, and requires taking initiatives and making relevant curriculum improvements. Thus, the study concluded with recommendations for practice and future research.

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