The Effect of Virtual classes on Saudi EFL Students’ Speaking Skills
Despite the widespread use of virtual classes in EFL teaching and learning and its success in many L1 and L2 countries, research on the impact of virtual classes on the development of speaking skills has not been touched upon satisfactorily in EFL settings, particularly in Saudi Arabia. To address this gap, the current study aims at exploring the effects of using the virtual classes on English majors’ speaking skills, and examining their attitudes towards the use of virtual classes. The study was conducted with 70 English students at Qassim University who were assigned into two groups, control (35) and experimental (35), after ensuring of their homogeneity by administering the Quick Placement Test. The virtual classes were used in teaching the experimental group, while the traditional method was used with the control one in the first term of the academic year (2019-2020). Data were collected from the study participants using an oral speaking test, an attitudinal questionnaire, and Semi-structured interviews. The results indicated that there were statistically significant differences between both groups in favor of the experimental group, in pronunciation, fluency, comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary due to the virtual classes. However, using virtual method appeared to be a more fruitful tool since the mean score of the experimental group (30.36) was much higher than the mean score of the control group (20.37). The questionnaire and interview findings also revealed that students generally had positive attitudes towards using virtual classes particularly because they found it helpful in improving their speaking skills. In light of those findings, the researcher suggested some recommendations that are hoped to help syllabus designers, supervisors, and English language teachers in developing teaching speaking skills.
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