English communication skills and employability in the Arabian Gulf: The case of Oman

R. Al-Mahrooqi*, V. Tuzlukova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Globalization, the information explosion, and technological advancement have gone hand in hand with the spread of English and its use as a lingua franca worldwide, a phenomenon that necessitated the teaching of English as a foreign language in many countries around the world, with the Arab nations no exception. In Oman, English has been recognized as a necessary tool for advancement and the acquisition of knowledge and technology (Al-Issa, 2007; Al-Mahrooqi, 2012; Al-Mahrooqi & Tuzlukova, 2010). In addition, given the multilingual nature of the workforce, which includes around 500,000 foreign workers, English has become a necessary medium of communication in Omani workplaces, especially in the private sector. Therefore, English has been taught in public schools since 1970 and in higher education since 1986. Unfortunately, higher education students continue to graduate with very weak oral and written communication skills, thus making them unfit for employment in many types of jobs. The aim of this paper is to address the issue of communicative competence among higher education students. It focuses specifically on how adequately linguistic, pragmatic and communicative skills are taught in higher education institutions' language programs. The sample of the study includes 451 students from a number of Omani higher education institutions who answered a 71-item questionnaire on the issue. Forty of the 451 students were also interviewed to investigate the issue further. The results indicate that students are only moderately prepared in terms of all the skills listed in the questionnaire. This calls for a re-examination and revamping of language programs with the intention of integrating more communication skills into their courses. The researchers recommend that these skills be integrated into content-based courses throughout the different majors' study plans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-488
Number of pages16
JournalPertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2014


  • Communication skills
  • Higher education language programs
  • Job market
  • Linguistic skills
  • Pragmatic skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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