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Exploring the Usefulness of a Documentary Film Making Project for Saudi Arabian College Students

Malki, Maryam Ameen
A Master of Arts Thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Maryam Ameen Malki Entitled, "Exploring the Usefulness of a Documentary Film Making Project for Saudi Arabian College Students," August 2009. Available are both Hard and Soft Copies of the Thesis.
English language teachers face many difficulties and problems when teaching a second or a foreign language, one of which includes motivating students to speak in oral communication classes. Speaking in English as a foreign language (EFL) classrooms can be very challenging for students sometimes. Therefore, language teachers must come up with creative ways to keep their class enjoyable and engaging for the students. This research investigated one way that might help students become more motivated to speak, and at the same time learn useful skills-developing a documentary film. My previous experience suggests that it can be challenging for students to make their own documentary films, but it may enhance their language learning experience. Therefore, my thesis research involved an exploratory practice study investigating the usefulness of a documentary film making project for level one female students at Dar Al Hekma College in Saudi Arabia. My research question was the following: In what ways, if any, do these students think a documentary film making project is useful? My study took place in Dar Al Hekma College, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with 18 level one EFL students' from the College Preparation Program (CPP). For a period of four weeks, I surveyed, interviewed, and observed the students as they produced their own documentary films as group projects. I also kept a journal to note the students' reactions as well as my own impressions while the students were working on their project. To get more insight into the context of these students I also collect some qualitative and quantitative data from the teachers in the CPP. The analysis of the data collected from both students and teachers helped me address my research question. The findings from my exploratory study revealed that documentary film making is one possible way of making language teaching beneficial for students and enjoyable for both the students and the teacher. Based on the teachers' responses, students were motivated and excited by the project, and all the students' ether strongly agreed or agreed that making a documentary film motivated them to speak English. The findings also show that students became more comfortable speaking in English, and they developed the confidence to communicate with people outside their classroom.
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