Education experts predict improvement in English-language skills in Saudi Arabia

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Participants gather for the inauguration of Education First’s new head office and EF English Center in Riyadh on Feb. 6, 2020. (AN photo by Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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Participants gather for the inauguration of Education First’s new head office and EF English Center in Riyadh on Feb. 6, 2020. (AN photo by Fahad Al-Zahrani)
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Updated 09 February 2020

Education experts predict improvement in English-language skills in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Levels of proficiency in the English language are expected to increase in Saudi Arabia in the coming years, according to Education First. The global education company compiles the EF English Proficiency Index, on which the Kingdom currently ranks 98th out of 100 countries.

“I’m very confident that English proficiency in the Kingdom will rise every year,” said John Bernström, EF’s general manager in Saudi Arabia, at the inauguration of the company’s new head office and EF English Center in Riyadh.

He sees a strong focus on English education from the government and the Ministry of Education, and in universities and high schools, along with a strong desire to improve personal English-language skills, particularly among young people.

“I believe there is a big willingness to learn (English),” he said, adding that the majority of students who enroll with EF are between the ages of 18 and 25.

“We see interest from both genders; slightly more from men but there is still a very nice interest from women too,” said Bernström. More women are traveling abroad to learn English and, he said, “we are very proud that we are able to provide that in a safe and culturally appropriate environment.”

EF plans to expand its presence in other cities across the Kingdom and the new head office is “the first step toward that goal,” added Bernström,

Helen Indelicato, director of English training at the EF English Center, said: “The new EF English Center in Riyadh will provide students with an opportunity to improve their professional skills, through which they will contribute to the modernization and diversification of the Saudi economy.

“We will bring high-quality English-language training to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to provide its global workforce with opportunities to engage with international companies, visitors, training solutions, and myriad other opportunities.”

The center will cater to students age 13 and over with a range of courses covering beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. It will also offer exam-preparation programs for standardized global tests. The teaching staff is entirely comprised of teachers from English-speaking countries.

“Our brand new local school is the stepping stone to the English journey, where our students will be able to grasp the foundations of the language and immerse into different cultures, while still being in the Kingdom,” said Indelicato. “At any point, students can transfer seamlessly to one of our 40 destinations around the world and fully live the language and the culture while maximizing their experience abroad.”

EF’s activities focus on language, academic, cultural-exchange and educational-travel programs. It held the eighth edition of its EF English Proficiency Index Conference in the Kingdom in 2018.


Saudi Arabia wants an end to arms race in region

King Salman chairs the weekly Cabinet session in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 40 sec ago

Saudi Arabia wants an end to arms race in region

  • Kingdom’s plans to develop Jafurah gas field lauded

RIYADH: The Cabinet on Tuesday reiterated its stance to support international efforts for regional disarmament and expressed its concern over the Iranian role that is detrimental to the peace and stability of the Middle East.
The meeting, chaired by King Salman, expressed its concern over Tehran’s announcement of downgrading its commitment to the 2015 nuclear agreement and an escalation of threats from terrorist armed militias supported by the Iranian regime.
The ministers also discussed a UN project, funded by Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation, to curb terrorism, organized crime and illicit weapons trade in Central Asia. The program, which will be implemented in 2020-21, seeks to establish preventive mechanisms to make the world a safer place.
The Cabinet also lauded plans to develop the Jafurah gas field, which will be developed with a $110 billion investment.
The ministers stressed the Kingdom’s commitment to diversifying its economy, benefiting from its resources and bolstering its pioneering position in the global energy market.
The Jafurah field — which lies southeast of Ghawar, the world’s largest conventional oil field — holds an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of wet gas, and is capable of producing 130,000 barrels per day of ethane and 500,000 barrels per day of gas liquids and condensates.

HIGHLIGHTS

• A UN project to curb terrorism, organized crime and illicit weapons trade in Central Asia was discussed.

• Saudi Arabia vows to use all available policy tools to achieve sustainable growth.

• A new system of ownership and management of real estate units approved.

Over 22 years, Jafurah could generate $8.6 billion a year in income and contribute $20 billion a year to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product.
The development of the Jafurah field will have ramifications not just for Saudi Arabia and its drive toward a cleaner energy mix, but also for the global gas market.
The Cabinet was also briefed about King Salman’s talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that took place in Riyadh last week. The talks tackled regional and international developments.
The ministers also reviewed the outcome of the first meeting of the finance ministers and central bank chiefs of the Group of 20 (G20) countries. The Cabinet reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to using all available policy tools to achieve sustainable growth.
The ministers also approved a new system of ownership and management of real estate units.