For too long the Saudi Ministry of Education gave less than its full attention to requiring primary school students to learn English. When I was a kid the Saudi education system provided me with few tools to master English, so I learned the language mostly on my own.
Beginning with the 2011-2012 academic year, the Ministry of Education will require English-language instruction for Saudi students starting in Grade 4. Khalid Al-Seghayer argues in the Arab News that “there is evidence that students knowing English are more creative, they develop a deeper understanding of cultures, show stronger skills in their own native language, and generally do better in problem-solving and overall academic performance.”
I have a younger brother taking intense English-languages courses in the UK to prepare for undergraduate studies abroad. I have seen amazing results in his command of the language and improvement in his cognitive skills in just a few months. Imagine if he had started when he was 8 years old.
There are thousands of Saudis abroad studying at the best universities because they took the time to study English on their own or had had teachers who influenced them to study the language. These students are part of the fabric of the international community because of their ability to communicate with people of other cultures and nationalities.
The Ministry of Education recognizes the necessity of mastering English. It’s a vital step towards narrowing the differences between cultures and religions. I look forward to see what the next generation of Saudis will bring to world as they acquire these new skills.