Effect of teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools

Abdullah Abdulmahsan Bin Saran (Department of European Language, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

Saudi Journal of Language Studies

ISSN: 2634-243X

Article publication date: 20 February 2024

Issue publication date: 15 March 2024

452

Abstract

Purpose

The global prominence of languages and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which supports the necessity of German proficiency for the nation’s socioeconomic evolution, necessitate a deeper understanding of German teaching in Saudi international schools. This study delves into the influence of various teaching strategies on students' German writing skills. The research particularly focuses on traditional and innovative methods and considers the factors that drive these teaching approaches.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from 304 students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, through a questionnaire. The relationships between teaching strategies and students' German writing abilities were analyzed using regression techniques.

Findings

The results indicate that both traditional and innovative teaching strategies positively influence students' writing skills. The regression analysis shows that the independent variables (traditional teaching strategies, innovative teaching strategies and factors influencing teaching strategies) collectively account for 68.9% of the variation in students' German writing skills. Even though a variety of techniques influence students' academic performance, the study’s findings indicate that several strategies – such as self-evaluation, pair work, oral feedback, grammar instruction and translation – have a major impact on students' German writing abilities.

Originality/value

This research brings unique insights into the German teaching realm of Saudi international schools, emphasizing the harmony between Vision 2030 goals and effective teaching methodologies. It elucidates the considerable influence of both traditional and innovative strategies on student writing outcomes. For educators in Saudi Arabia’s international educational environment, the study’s findings underline the importance of adopting student-centric approaches in the writing process, ensuring students evolve as proficient writers. Additionally, the research underscores the significant role of variables affecting teaching strategies, spotlighting their pivotal role in shaping student outcomes.

Keywords

Citation

Bin Saran, A.A. (2024), "Effect of teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools", Saudi Journal of Language Studies, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 47-68. https://doi.org/10.1108/SJLS-10-2023-0049

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Abdullah Abdulmahsan Bin Saran

License

Published in Saudi Journal of Language Studies. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode


1. Background to the study

Teaching German as a second language is a critical aspect of education in Saudi international schools. With the growing importance of German as a global lingua franca, developing students' German writing skills has become a focal point in these institutions. Effective teaching strategies play a pivotal role in shaping students' abilities to communicate in German, both in writing and speaking (Mervat Abd Elfatah, 2016). In Saudi Arabia, where the primary language is Arabic, the acquisition of German writing skills is a significant challenge (Fatima, 2020). Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a comprehensive plan for the nation’s socioeconomic transformation, places great emphasis on the importance of German proficiency (Wahdan, 2019), recognizing that German is the dominant language in Europe. Consequently, the teaching of German has been elevated to a position of utmost significance in the Saudi educational system, especially in international schools (Luisa and Renau, 2016). The development of strong German writing skills is a vital component of this broader effort. Proficiency in German writing is essential for academic success, communication in the global arena and future employment prospects for Saudi students (Abkar Alkodimi and Mohammed Hassan Al-Ahdal, 2021; Kawinkoonlasate, 2019).

Teaching strategies are crucial in determining how effectively students acquire German writing skills. These strategies encompass a wide range of instructional approaches and methodologies employed by teachers in the classroom (Fatima et al., 2021). They can be influenced by various factors, including teacher training, resources available, curriculum design and the sociocultural context. The interplay of these factors shapes the quality and effectiveness of German instruction in Saudi international schools. To foster the development of strong writing skills, teachers must employ strategies that are engaging, contextually relevant and responsive to the needs of their students (Nahed Hussain, 2022). As such, understanding the factors that influence teaching strategies is essential for designing and implementing effective language instruction (Nahed Hussain, 2022). Moreover, students' German writing skills are the ultimate outcome of the teaching process. A student’s ability to write proficiently in German reflects the cumulative impact of various factors, including their prior exposure to the language, the quality of instruction they receive, the resources available to them and their own intrinsic motivation (Abkar Alkodimi and Mohammed Hassan Al-Ahdal, 2021). Saudi international schools are diverse environments, catering to students with varying levels of language proficiency and educational backgrounds. Therefore, the proficiency levels of German writing skills among students can differ significantly. German instruction in most Saudi schools is often taught via lectures. As a result, pupils score poorly on accomplishment exams and lack the information and abilities necessary for writing in the German language. If the instructor takes the students' learning requirements into account, the lecture approach may be a useful tactic. Akolom et al. (2021) spoke about how typical teaching methods include lectures without any engagement. When combined with conversation and probing, it could produce positive outcomes. At whatever educational level, lectures are still regarded as the conventional teaching approach. According to Alsamadani (2022), interactive lectures with students and teachers are preferable to conventional lecture formats, which have minimal impact on students' writing abilities. At the secondary level, nevertheless, it is a time-saving approach to teaching because of the students' and the teacher’s proficiency level.

Saudi Arabia’s native tongue is Arabic, a Semitic language that is very different from German in terms of phonetics, syntax and grammar (Fatima, 2020). The language barrier makes learning German difficult for Saudi students, particularly when it comes to writing, which calls for a strong command of syntax and vocabulary. It is possible that Saudi Arabian students have little exposure to German outside of the classroom, which makes it difficult for them to become proficient writers (Abkar Alkodimi and Mohammed Hassan Al-Ahdal, 2021). It may be difficult to hone writing abilities if one is not in an atmosphere where German is spoken. The old, teacher-centered methods that are still widely used in Saudi education, with their emphasis on rote learning and grammar translation, might not adequately handle the practical aspects of writing in German (Al-Ahdal and Abduh, 2021). These techniques may restrict pupils' writing-related capacity for critical and creative thought. The German language curriculum in Saudi foreign schools may not be entirely tailored to meet the requirements of students learning the language, which could have an effect on how well students learn to write (Luisa and Renau, 2016). Teachers' training and competency have a direct impact on how well their teaching tactics work (Qader and Arslan, 2019). The quality of writing education can occasionally be negatively impacted by teachers' lack of preparation in cutting-edge teaching techniques or the German language. By investigating how different teaching approaches affect the growth of German writing abilities in Saudi foreign schools, the study seeks to address these complex issues. Through comprehending and tackling these obstacles, the research aims to enhance German language instruction in Saudi Arabia, in line with the country’s educational and developmental objectives (Abahussain, 2016; Al-Hassan Seedah, 2019; Mohammed, 2023). In light of the importance of German proficiency and the writing challenges faced by students in Saudi international schools, this study aims to examine the factors influencing teaching strategies and students' German writing skills. This paper delves into the effect of teaching strategies on students' German writing skills at Saudi international schools.

1.1 Research objectives

The major objective of this study was to investigate the effect of teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools. The study also achieved the following specific objectives:

RO1.

To examine the effect of traditional teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools.

RO2.

To establish the influence of innovative teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools.

RO3.

To identify the different factors influencing teaching strategies.

1.2 Research questions

RQ1.

What is the effect of traditional teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools?

RQ2.

What is the influence of innovative teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools?

RQ3.

What are the different factors influencing teaching strategies?

1.3 Research hypotheses

H1.

Traditional teaching strategies have a positive effect on students’ German writing skills.

H2.

There is a significant relationship between innovative teaching strategies and traditional teaching strategies.

H3.

Factors influencing teaching strategies positively affect traditional teaching strategies

1.4 Contribution of the study

One of the primary significances of this study lies in its focus on Saudi international schools. Saudi Arabia’s education system has been undergoing significant reforms in recent years, and German language proficiency is increasingly prioritized. Understanding how different teaching strategies affect students' writing skills in these schools can provide valuable data for shaping future educational policies and curricula.

Furthermore, this study contributes to the broader field of education by shedding light on the effectiveness of various teaching strategies. The research outcomes can offer valuable insights to educators worldwide who are interested in enhancing their students' writing abilities, regardless of the specific cultural or linguistic context. It contributes to the global body of knowledge on pedagogical practices by demonstrating which strategies work best in improving German writing skills, which can be adapted and implemented in diverse educational settings.

2. Literature review

2.1 Traditional teaching strategies

Traditional teaching strategies in Saudi international schools typically involve a teacher-centered approach, with a focus on grammar, vocabulary and structured writing forms. These strategies often employ direct instruction, textbook-based learning and drills (Jingxuan et al., 2023; Yawman and Appiah-Kubi, 2018). Research conducted by AlOtaibi et al. (2023) in Saudi Arabian international schools suggested that traditional teaching methods can be effective in teaching the fundamentals of German writing, such as sentence structure and basic vocabulary. However, these approaches are often criticized for their limited engagement and creativity, which may not adequately address the diverse needs of students, particularly in the context of international schools (Al-Ahdal and Abduh, 2021). Direct instruction is a traditional teaching approach that involves teacher-centered learning. In this method, teachers provide explicit guidance, explaining rules and conventions related to German writing. A study by Sofi (2015) found that direct instruction significantly improved students' grammatical and syntactical writing skills. However, it was less effective in fostering creative expression and critical thinking in writing.

According to Ismail and Kassem (2022), the grammar-translation method is another conventional approach that focuses on grammar rules and translation. While this method has been criticized for limiting students' fluency and creative expression, it can be effective in enhancing students' accuracy in writing. In Saudi international schools, where German is often taught as a second language, this method is still prevalent. Pen-and-paper exercises, such as worksheets and drills, have been used for decades to reinforce writing skills. These exercises offer students opportunities to practice grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary. However, studies suggest that an over-reliance on such exercises may inhibit the development of creative and critical thinking skills in writing (Alshammari, 2016; Hudson, 2019).

Traditional strategies have their strengths whereby they provide structure and consistency in the learning environment (Alqahtani and Albidewi, 2022; Irmawati, 2015). Teachers often use textbooks and focus on grammar and vocabulary, aiming to build a strong foundation. Such approaches might be appreciated by students and parents due to their familiarity and perceived effectiveness (Akolom et al., 2021; Zimkhitha, 2014). However, the impact of traditional teaching strategies on German writing skills in Saudi international schools is mixed. While these methods offer consistency and structure, they can sometimes result in students being passive learners who struggle with creativity and critical thinking in their writing. The emphasis on rote memorization and grammar may inhibit students' ability to express themselves fluently and coherently in writing. Additionally, research by Cole and Feng (2015) has shown that traditional strategies can be less engaging for students, potentially leading to disinterest in learning German writing.

2.2 Innovative teaching strategies

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in innovative teaching strategies to enhance students' German writing skills. These strategies often emphasize active learning, technology integration and project-based approaches (Chen, 2022). Some examples include flipped classrooms, collaborative writing and the use of educational technology. Research by Jiovanela del and Seidy María (2016) investigated the impact of flipped classrooms in Saudi international schools and found that this approach promoted student engagement and self-directed learning, leading to improved writing skills. Additionally, the use of digital tools and online platforms for writing assignments and peer feedback has been shown to enhance the quality of students' writing (Alharbi, 2020).

Process-based writing instruction is a more modern approach that emphasizes the writing process, including pre-writing, drafting, revising and editing. It encourages students to think critically, plan and organize their thoughts effectively (Alqahtani and Albidewi, 2022; Luisa and Renau, 2016). Research by Abkar Alkodimi and Mohammed Hassan Al-Ahdal (2021) found that process-based writing instruction significantly improved students' German writing skills in Saudi international schools, fostering creativity and critical thinking. Collaborative learning involves group activities where students work together to generate ideas, provide feedback and revise their writing. In Saudi international schools, this approach has gained popularity, as it aligns with the interactive and communicative nature of the German language. A study by Ara Ashraf (2018) reported that collaborative learning enhanced students' writing skills, especially in terms of fluency, coherence and organization.

The inquiry-based learning method is another innovative pedagogical technique. According to Abkar Alkodimi and Mohammed Hassan Al-Ahdal (2021), inquiry-based learning has emerged as a method that facilitates more efficient and effective communication. They claim that since it improves students' ability to learn the second language (L2), teaching German using an inquiry-based method is becoming more and more common in second language learning. Brainstorming is another creative teaching method. According to Alhaider (2023), brainstorming is a kind of individual or group creative technique whereby information is gathered in the form of a list of ideas that participants suddenly submit in order to determine a certain deduction for a certain issue. According to Kawinkoonlasate (2019), brainstorming generates ideas more quickly than people working alone to come up with knowledge. He advocated for the unrestricted development of ideas. Elkot and Ali (2020) note that while this argument may be debatable at the moment, it is used to suggest to all group ideation gatherings. When used as a teaching strategy for social science courses, brainstorming is easy to use and productive for presenting new ideas. It is effective because it piques learners' interests and activates their prior knowledge (Elkot and Ali, 2020). The teacher has the authority to decide whether or not the pupils have the necessary prior knowledge to continue with the lesson while they are studying (Kawinkoonlasate, 2019).

The integration of technology in the classroom has opened up new opportunities for innovative teaching strategies. In Saudi international schools, educators have adopted various digital tools and online platforms to enhance students' writing skills (Elkot and Ali, 2020). Research by Wahdan (2019) highlighted the positive impact of technology-enhanced learning on students' motivation, engagement and the development of digital literacy skills, all of which contribute to improved writing skills. Genre-based writing instruction focuses on teaching students different types of texts, such as narratives, reports or persuasive essays. This approach helps students understand the conventions and structures of various genres and how to adapt their writing style accordingly. Studies conducted by Abdulrahman Almohideb (2019) and Grami et al. (2021) in Saudi international schools have shown that genre-based instruction enhances students' ability to write different types of texts with clarity and effectiveness.

2.3 Factors influencing teaching strategies

The choice of teaching strategies in Saudi international schools is influenced by various factors, including cultural and institutional factors. The cultural context in Saudi Arabia places a high value on traditional teaching methods, which can influence the preferences of educators and administrators (Novita, 2023).

One of the primary factors influencing teaching strategies is the competence and training of teachers. Teachers play a pivotal role in shaping students' writing skills. Research has shown that well-qualified teachers with training in German language education are more effective in teaching writing skills (Qader and Arslan, 2019). In Saudi international schools, the availability of qualified German teachers is essential for implementing effective strategies that support students' writing development (Abahussain, 2016; Fatima, 2020). Teachers in Saudi international schools may have varying degrees of familiarity and comfort with innovative teaching methods and technology. The extent to which teachers receive training and support in implementing these strategies can greatly impact their effectiveness (Alhaider, 2023).

In addition, class size and student demographics play a role in the choice of teaching strategies (Ismail and Kassem, 2022). Large class sizes may limit the feasibility of certain innovative approaches that require more personalized attention. Moreover, the diverse backgrounds and language proficiency levels of students in international schools may necessitate differentiated instruction and tailored strategies (Alqahtani and Albidewi, 2022). Saudi international schools often have a diverse student population, with varying levels of German proficiency (Rahman et al., 2020). Recognizing and addressing the diverse needs of students is a crucial factor in shaping teaching strategies. Teachers must adapt their methods to cater to different language proficiency levels and learning styles to ensure that each student progresses in their writing skills (Luisa and Renau, 2016).

The integration of technology in teaching strategies is an emerging factor with significant implications for students' writing skills. The use of digital tools and platforms can enhance the teaching of writing through interactive activities, feedback mechanisms and online resources (Alqahtani and Albidewi, 2022). The extent to which technology is incorporated into teaching strategies is contingent on infrastructure and access, which may vary in Saudi international schools (Yawman and Appiah-Kubi, 2018).

2.4 Approaches to writing and students’ German writing skills

German writing skills are crucial for students as they help not only in academic success but also in building the foundation for effective communication and critical thinking. Research by Qader and Arslan (2019) showed that students who possess strong German writing skills are better equipped to express themselves, communicate their ideas clearly and excel in various academic and professional endeavors. Saudi international schools, which often follow a curriculum with an emphasis on German language proficiency, place a significant importance on the development of students' German writing skills (Alghazo et al., 2022; Alqahtani and Albidewi, 2022; Mohammed, 2023). Since the 1970s, the product method has been used in many writing classes. When using a product method, instructors often provide students a sample text to follow along with as they create their own messages. According to AlOtaibi et al. (2023), the product approach to writing instruction adheres to a conventional method by having students concentrate as much as they can on the model, the form and the replication of the teacher’s work. For instance, educators who use the product method place more emphasis on the text’s grammatical structure and organization than on the concepts and ideas it contains (Fatima, 2020). The primary goal of the product approach training is writing accuracy. Instructors grade students' writing according to how well they use punctuation, grammar and spelling.

Grami et al. (2021) noted that in some classrooms, students are required to analyze the key ideas in the teacher’s sample text and then replicate the sample’s organizational structure in their own works. The purpose of teaching writing in product approach classrooms is to enable students to generate a document that resembles the one they have studied in terms of structure and language use (Grami et al., 2021). Diversification is not as valued in terms of innovation. Although this method is mostly criticized for emphasizing the use of proper grammar, form and language elements like spelling and punctuation, other researchers such as Kawinkoonlasate (2019) and Alshammari (2016) have differing opinions regarding the product approach. These academics contend that in order for learners to become proficient writers, the product methods do acknowledge their requirement for linguistic growth and competency across a variety of texts. One way that humans learn is via imitation. Put another way, in order to successfully promote the growth of their students' writing abilities, instructors are recommended to balance the product approach with other writing techniques (Alhujaylan, 2019).

The genre-based approach to writing teaching has gained popularity as a way to improve students' writing skills in addition to the product and process techniques. The genre-based approach places more emphasis on the social context in which literature is produced (Abahussain, 2016; Chatta and Haque, 2020). At the heart of the genre-based approach is the notion that teachers should provide pupils precise, systematic explanations of how language functions in social contexts. Therefore, in order for students to become skilled communicators for a range of audiences and settings, instructors in genre-based classrooms should encourage their students to research and utilize texts from various genres. Ara Ashraf (2018) highlights that through offering “scaffolding” or assistance via guided exercises, the genre-based educator takes on an “authoritative” role in assisting students in realizing their writing objectives and potential.

The integrated skills approach seeks to break down the compartmentalization of language skills, merging the teaching of reading, writing, listening and speaking (Alharbi, 2020; Wahdan, 2019). By integrating these skills, students are exposed to a more immersive German language experience. In this approach, writing is seen as an essential part of the overall language acquisition process. This approach has several advantages for students' German writing skills. It encourages the application of language in real-life situations, making writing a more purposeful and relevant activity (Irmawati, 2015). By writing essays, reports and creative pieces, students can practice the skills necessary for effective communication in various contexts (Al-Hassan Seedah, 2019). However, the integrated skills approach requires substantial teacher training and the development of appropriate materials, which may present challenges for some educational institutions in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the implementation of this approach necessitates a shift in teaching methods and curricula, which can be met with resistance (Alharbi, 2020; Wahdan, 2019).

Alhaider (2023) noted that with the rise of technology, there has been a growing emphasis on incorporating digital tools and resources to enhance German writing skills. Various online platforms and applications provide students with opportunities to practice writing, receive instant feedback and access a wealth of information. The advantages of technology-assisted approaches are numerous. Students can engage in interactive activities, learn from a variety of sources and receive immediate feedback on their writing (Alghammas and Alhuwaydi, 2020). Additionally, online writing platforms can cater to individual students' needs, allowing for personalized instruction and practice. Nonetheless, the integration of technology into writing instruction may not be equally accessible to all students in Saudi Arabia. Socioeconomic disparities, varying access to technology and differences in digital literacy can affect the effectiveness of this approach (Alghazo et al., 2022).

2.5 Research gap

The research gap in this study primarily lies in the specific context of Saudi international schools and the unique challenges they face in teaching German as a second language. While there is existing literature on language acquisition and teaching strategies in general, there is a notable scarcity of studies that focus specifically on the effectiveness of different teaching strategies for German writing skills in the Saudi Arabian educational context. This gap is significant because the cultural, linguistic and educational dynamics in Saudi Arabia are distinct, and strategies effective in other contexts may not yield the same results in Saudi international schools. Moreover, as Saudi Arabia continues to integrate into the global economy and culture, the proficiency in languages like German becomes increasingly vital, aligning with the nation’s Vision 2030 goals. This study, therefore, seeks to address this gap by examining the impact of various teaching strategies on students' German writing skills in this unique setting, providing insights that could guide educators and policymakers in enhancing language education in Saudi Arabia and similar contexts. The motivation for this study also stems from the need to understand how different teaching strategies can cater to the diverse student population in these schools, considering their varying levels of language proficiency and educational backgrounds (Abkar Alkodimiand Mohammed Hassan Al-Ahdal, 2021; Luisa and Renau, 2016). This understanding is crucial for developing more effective and inclusive language teaching approaches that not only improve students' writing skills but also prepare them for future academic and professional challenges in a multilingual world.

3. Methodology

3.1 Research design

Research design refers to the overall plan or structure of a research study. It outlines the steps, procedures and methods to be used in collecting and analyzing data. It is crucial to have a well-thought-out research design to ensure that the study answers the research questions effectively. The study employed a cross-sectional survey design based on the quantitative methodology for data collection and testing of hypotheses. A cross-sectional survey is a type of research design where data are collected from a sample of participants at a single point in time. This design helps to gain insights into the characteristics, behaviors or opinions of a population concerning the effect of teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools.

3.2 Study population

The study majorly targeted different international students from Saudi international schools.

3.3 Sample size

The sample size determination was based on the Krejcie and Morgan (1970) model. The sample size was 304 students from the different international schools in Riyadh Saudi Arabia.

3.3.1 Sampling technique

Probability sampling methods, particularly stratified sampling and simple random sampling techniques, were used to select the study participants. The target population was divided into several groupings, or strata, each of which represented a different foreign institution, as part of the stratification process. This section was founded on the idea that every school might have distinct features that affect the ways in which teaching tactics are implemented and, in turn, how well students can write in German. The study’s chosen universities varied greatly in terms of their resources, teaching methods, student bodies and German language instructors' credentials. The curriculum focus and the degree to which German language training was prioritized within each school’s curriculum determined the schools' classification. This classification made it easier to comprehend how various curriculum emphases might impact the instructional techniques used. After stratification was finished, a simple random sampling technique was applied to choose specific participants from each strata. By ensuring that each student in a stratum had an equal chance of being chosen, this technique minimized selection bias and improved the sample’s representation.

3.4 Data collection

The research used a survey questionnaire as a means of data collection. Because a questionnaire may swiftly cover a large number of respondents and gives respondents the freedom to openly answer to sensitive themes without fear of the researcher’s judgment or rejection, it is less costly. The questionnaire used in this study was self-developed, designed specifically to investigate the effect of teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools. The development of the questionnaire was guided by the research objectives and questions, ensuring that each item directly related to the aspects under investigation. In order to ensure ethicality of the research, the respondents were given a detailed explanation of the study’s objective and were asked for verbal consent. No respondent was therefore coerced into providing information against their will. The responders who participated in the study were also carefully monitored to make sure they suffered no harm during the research process.

3.4.1 Reliability and validity of the questionnaire

The reliability and validity of the questionnaire used in this study were critical to ensuring the accuracy and trustworthiness of the findings. To assess these aspects, several measures were implemented. Reliability refers to the consistency and stability of the measurement tool over time. Before the main survey, a pilot test was conducted with a small sample of students from a Saudi international school not included in the main study. This helped in identifying any ambiguities or inconsistencies in the questionnaire. The internal consistency of the questionnaire was measured using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. Items within each section of the questionnaire were analyzed to ensure they were consistently measuring the same construct. A Cronbach’s alpha value of 0.7 or above was considered acceptable, indicating good reliability.

Validity refers to how well the questionnaire measures what it is intended to measure. Expert opinions were sought from experienced educators and language instructors to ensure that the questionnaire items were relevant and adequately covered the topic of teaching strategies and their impact on German writing skills. Their feedback was used to refine the questions. The questionnaire was designed to align with the theoretical framework and research objectives. Each item was carefully crafted to ensure it accurately measured the constructs of traditional and innovative teaching strategies, as well as factors influencing these strategies.

3.5 Measurement of variables

To measure the variables, operational definitions of the variables were created. For example, survey questions on how teaching strategies affect students' German writing skills at Saudi International Schools were created. These were made into measurable and observable elements in order to facilitate the development of an index concept. The questionnaire employed a 5-point Likert scale or scoring system for responses, with the following representations: 5: strongly agree, 4: agree, 3: not sure, 2: disagree and 1: strongly disagree. Each item in the questionnaire was carefully crafted to elicit specific information relevant to these aspects, ensuring that the data collected would be directly applicable to the study’s objectives. The questionnaire was also reviewed for clarity, relevance and bias to ensure the reliability and validity of the data collected.

3.6 Data analysis

SPSS version 20 was used for data analysis. When importing the data into SPSS for analysis, it was carefully sorted and then analyzed. Following analysis, frequencies and percentages were used to interpret the data, which were then shown in tables and figures. The Pearson’s correlation coefficient test was performed to look at relationships with a 95% degree of confidence. Regression analysis was used to estimate different predictive values, and the multiple regression model assisted in determining the general predictive potency of the numerous independent variables on the study’s dependent variable.

Y=βO+β1X1+β2X2+β3X3+εlowi
where.
  • Y= students’ German writing skills

  • β0 = constant (coefficient of intercept);

  • X1 = traditional teaching strategies

  • X2 = innovative teaching strategies

  • X3 = factors influencing teaching strategies

  • ε = model’s error term

β1 … β3 = demonstrates how the regression coefficient for the independent factors may be used to forecast the German writing skills of students. The study’s hypotheses were evaluated and then interpreted at the 5% level of significance (0.05), with the p-value determining whether the null hypothesis was accepted or rejected.

4. Results

4.1 Biodata

According to Table 1, there was a total of 304 participants in the study. Of these participants, 187 (61.5%) were male, while 117 (38.5%) were female. This indicates that the study had a higher representation of male participants compared to female participants. The majority (58.5%) fall within the 18–22 age bracket, while the other two brackets, below 18 and above 22, make up 12.2 and 29.3%, respectively.

4.2 Descriptive results

The study established the effect of the different traditional teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools, and the results are shown in Table 2.

The results in Table 2 show that the majority of respondents (91.9% when combining agree and strongly agree) believe that direct grammar instruction has a positive impact on students' German writing skills. This suggests that the use of direct grammar instruction is well-received and effective in this context. A substantial majority of respondents (88.8% when combining agree and strongly agree) see traditional spelling and handwriting practice as beneficial for improving students' German writing. This strategy appears to be well-regarded in the context of Saudi international schools. An overwhelming majority of respondents (86.4% when combining agree and strongly agree) believe that using traditional writing prompts stimulates students' creativity and expression in German writing. This suggests that this strategy is seen as highly effective in enhancing students' writing skills. While a minority (11.1% when combining disagree and strongly disagree) have reservations about this strategy, a significant majority (81.7% when combining agree and strongly agree) view encouraging peer editing and feedback sessions as an effective way to enhance students' German writing skills. The use of templates and structured writing formats has a mixed response. While a substantial percentage (74.5% when combining agree and strongly agree) finds it effective in improving students' organization in their writing, there is also a significant percentage (21.3% when combining disagree and strongly disagree) that disagrees or strongly disagrees.

The study established the effect of the different innovative teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools, and the results are shown in Table 3.

From Table 3, it can be seen that most participants (87.9%) either agreed or strongly agreed that collaborative writing projects with classmates have been beneficial for improving their German writing skills. This suggests that this teaching strategy was generally well-received and effective in enhancing students' writing abilities. A significant majority of students (90.7%) either agreed or strongly agreed that integrating multimedia into German writing assignments was engaging and effective. The low percentage of disagreement suggests that this innovative teaching strategy was well-received and contributed positively to their learning experience. The majority of students (79.4%) either agreed or strongly agreed that flipped classroom techniques improved their German writing skills. This approach appears to be effective in enhancing their writing abilities, with only a small percentage expressing disagreement. The majority of students (81.7%) either agreed or strongly agreed that real-world writing tasks have better prepared them for practical German writing in the future. This suggests that this teaching strategy is effective in bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world application. The results show that a significant percentage of students (74.5%) either agreed or strongly agreed that in-class writing workshops and one-on-one feedback sessions with the teacher were effective in improving their German writing abilities. Despite some disagreement, a substantial majority found this strategy beneficial. A majority of students (79.9%) either agreed or strongly agreed that peer feedback and peer editing activities enhanced their ability to write in German. The relatively high percentage of neutral responses indicates some variability in the students' experiences with this strategy.

4.3 Factors influencing teaching strategies

The results about factors influencing teaching strategies are shown in Table 4. The results in Table 4 show that the majority of respondents agree (76.5% in total, combining “agree” and “strongly agree”) that the availability of technological resources has a positive influence on their choice of teaching strategies. This suggests that teachers in Saudi international schools value the use of technology in their teaching approaches. A significant portion of respondents agree (69.6% in total, combining “agree” and “strongly agree”) that student engagement and participation levels play a role in influencing their choice of teaching strategies. This suggests that teachers consider student involvement as an important factor in shaping their teaching approaches. The majority of respondents agree (87% in total, combining “agree” and “strongly agree”) that they consider the learning preferences and styles of their students when determining their teaching strategies. This suggests that teachers adapt their teaching methods to accommodate their students' individual learning needs and styles. A significant majority of respondents agree (73.6%) that class size and diversity have an impact on their choice of teaching strategies. This implies that teachers take into account the characteristics of their classes when planning their teaching methods. The majority of respondents agree (88.6%) that the support and resources provided by their institutions play a role in shaping their teaching strategies. This highlights the importance of institutional backing in developing effective teaching approaches. The results indicate that a majority of respondents agree (69.3%) that the time available for instruction and the duration of the class affect their teaching strategies. This implies that teachers adapt their teaching methods based on time constraints and class duration.

The study also established the level of students’ German writing skills, and the results are presented in Figure 1.

The majority of students (46.2%) fall into the intermediate category. These students have a moderate level of German writing proficiency. They can construct coherent sentences and paragraphs, though their writing may still contain some errors or lack advanced vocabulary. They can convey their ideas, but not necessarily with complete fluency and accuracy. Only 21.7% of students belonged to the expert category. These students are likely to be near-native or highly proficient writers. They can produce complex and articulate pieces of writing with a high degree of fluency, accuracy and sophistication. A relatively small percentage of students (5.9%) fall into the advanced category. These students have a higher level of proficiency in German writing. They are capable of writing with more fluency, better grammar and a wider vocabulary range compared to intermediate students. Their writing is likely to be more organized and less error-prone.

4.4 Correlation analysis

Correlation analysis was utilized to determine the relationship between the different study variables as in Table 5.

The correlation between “students' German writing skills” and “traditional teaching strategies” is 0.648**. This positive correlation suggests that there is a statistically significant relationship between students' German writing skills and the use of traditional teaching strategies. The correlation between “students' German writing skills” and “innovative teaching strategies” is 0.551*. This positive correlation indicates a statistically significant relationship between students' German writing skills and the use of innovative teaching strategies. However, the correlation is slightly weaker compared to traditional teaching strategies. The correlation between “traditional teaching strategies” and “innovative teaching strategies” is 0.649*. This suggests a statistically significant positive relationship between these two teaching strategy variables. It implies that schools that use traditional teaching strategies are also likely to use innovative teaching strategies to some extent. The correlation between “factors influencing teaching strategies” and the other three variables is strong and positive, with correlation coefficients of 0.715* (with “students' German writing skills (dep.)”), 0.905* (with “traditional teaching strategies”) and 0.846* (with “innovative teaching strategies”). This indicates that the factors influencing teaching strategies have a statistically significant positive relationship with all other variables. In other words, these factors play a significant role in shaping teaching strategies and, in turn, students' German writing skills.

4.5 Normality tests

A parametric test was conducted particularly for normality, and the results are presented in Table 6.

The mean score of 3.85 for students' German writing skills suggests a moderate level of proficiency, with a standard deviation of 0.62 indicating some variability in the responses. The normality tests, including Kolmogorov–Smirnov (p = 0.22) and Shapiro–Wilk (p = 0.18), both show that the distribution is not significantly different from normal. The Anderson-Darling critical value of 0.76 supports the assumption of normality. For traditional teaching strategies, the mean score is 4.20, indicating a relatively high average, with a low standard deviation of 0.58, suggesting low variability. The normality tests (Kolmogorov–Smirnov p = 0.45, Shapiro–Wilk p = 0.32) suggest that the distribution is not significantly different from normal. The Anderson-Darling critical value of 0.72 further supports this conclusion.

In the case of innovative teaching strategies, the mean score is 3.95, and the standard deviation is 0.75, suggesting a moderate level of variability. The normality tests (Kolmogorov–Smirnov p = 0.10, Shapiro–Wilk p = 0.07) indicate no significant departure from normality. The Anderson-Darling critical value of 0.80 supports this finding. For factors influencing teaching strategies, the mean score is 4.15, with a standard deviation of 0.67, suggesting a relatively high average with moderate variability. The normality tests (Kolmogorov–Smirnov p = 0.15, Shapiro–Wilk p = 0.12) indicate that the distribution is not significantly different from normal. The Anderson-Darling critical value of 0.78 supports this conclusion.

These results suggest that the data for all variables are normally distributed, allowing for appropriate statistical analyses.

4.6 Results of regression analysis

Regression analysis helped to determine the level to which students’ German writing skills are predicted by traditional teaching strategies, innovative teaching strategies and factors influencing teaching strategies, and the results are presented in Table 7.

The study’s three independent variables showed a positive link with students' German writing skills, as indicated by the positive multiple correlation coefficient (R). Additionally, the R-square value attests to the fact that the study’s independent variables account for 68.9% of the variation in students' German writing proficiency.

To determine if the linear regression model adequately fitted the data or if the three independent variables were better predictors of the dependent variable, a one-way ANOVA was employed. F (3, 301) = 125.136, p < 0.05, showing an excellent match between the model and the data.

Table 8 shows that regression analysis yielded unstandardized coefficients, which were used to determine the association between students' German writing skills and traditional teaching strategies, innovative teaching strategies and factors influencing teaching strategies.

The results in Table 9 show that traditional teaching strategies are significantly related to students’ German writing skills (p = 0.014 < 0.005). Hypotheses 1 was, therefore, accepted, that is, traditional teaching strategies have a positive effect on traditional teaching strategies.

Innovative teaching strategies also showed a significant positive influence on traditional teaching strategies (p = 0.001 < 0.005). This means that there is a significant relationship between innovative teaching strategies and traditional teaching strategies.

Additionally, factors influencing teaching strategies (p = 0.023) significantly affect traditional teaching strategies, reinforcing the idea that external factors play a critical role in shaping teaching approaches. This relationship highlights the need for educators to adapt their methods based on contextual and institutional factors. Hypothesis 3 was, therefore, accepted, meaning that factors influencing teaching strategies positively affect traditional teaching strategies (p < 0.005).

5. Discussion

This study investigated the effect of teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 acknowledges that competence in German is essential to reaching its lofty development objectives. In the fields of science, technology and commerce, German is the universal language. Learning to write in German in an environment where the majority language is Arabic might be particularly difficult. As a result, developing students' German writing skills is essential to their success in the future in a globalized society (Alghazo et al., 2022). According to the results, traditional teaching methods are still widely used in Saudi foreign schools. These instructional tactics emphasize grammar, vocabulary and organized writing formats, using a teacher-centered approach. The findings show a substantial positive connection (p = 0.014) between students' German writing abilities and traditional teaching methods. This shows that writing prompts, peer editing, spelling and handwriting practice, direct grammar teaching and other traditional approaches are well-liked by students and improve their writing abilities. Conventional approaches have been criticized for their lack of innovation and involvement, even if they are good at teaching grammar and precision. But it is clear that they still have a lot to contribute to the teaching of the foundations of German writing, particularly when German is being used as a second language. According to the statistics, these traditional methods may coexist with cutting-edge techniques, and their importance in providing a solid basis for writing abilities should not be understated. In recent years, innovative teaching practices that prioritize project-based learning, technological integration and active learning have become more and more popular (Jingxuan et al., 2023; Mervat Abd Elfatah, 2016).

The findings demonstrate a strong positive link (p = 0.001) between students' proficiency in German writing and creative teaching approaches. This suggests that strategies like peer feedback, flipped classrooms, multimedia integration, cooperative writing projects and real-world writing assignments improve students' writing skills. Studies by Irmawati (2015) and Chatta and Haque (2020) highlight the benefits of peer assessment and feedback, emphasizing its positive impact on students' writing skills, as well as their ability to critically evaluate and improve their work. The interaction between peers fosters a collaborative learning environment, which, as indicated in the study, can lead to enhanced writing fluency, coherence and organization. The flipped classroom model, another teaching approach mentioned in the study, is gaining recognition in the field of language education. Al-nooh (2015) introduced this concept, emphasizing the shift of traditional lecture-based instruction to a more interactive and student-centered learning experience. The study’s findings align with the idea that flipped classrooms promote independent learning, as students engage with instructional content outside of class and actively participate in class activities, discussions and writing projects (Mervat Abd Elfatah, 2016). This approach can enhance students' writing skills by allowing for more in-depth exploration of writing concepts during class time (Grami et al., 2021).

The results show that innovative approaches foster student involvement, independent learning and practical application. In particular, collaborative learning improves students' writing fluency, coherence and organization (AlOtaibi et al., 2023). According to the study, implementing cutting-edge teaching techniques is consistent with the interactive and communicative qualities of the German language. This suggests that Saudi foreign schools are changing to accommodate the ever-changing needs of German instruction (Fatima et al., 2021). Hudson (2019) extensively studied the impact of cooperative learning on academic achievement and has found that it can lead to higher levels of comprehension, improved writing skills and increased motivation. The study’s findings reinforce the notion that collaborative writing projects can foster better writing fluency and organization, as students work together to achieve common goals. The inclusion of real-world writing assignments is a key component of the study’s findings. This approach aligns with the principles of task-based language teaching (TBLT), a pedagogical framework widely discussed in language education literature. Novita (2023) provides insights into the benefits of TBLT, emphasizing its practicality in real-life language use. The study suggests that such assignments contribute to the development of practical writing skills, enabling students to apply their language knowledge in authentic, real-world situations (AlOtaibi et al., 2023; National Academy for Educational Management (NAEM), 2021; Novita, 2023).

The study also pinpoints a number of variables that affect the methods used in Saudi foreign schools. These include time limits, class size, institutional support, student participation, learning preferences and the accessibility of technology tools. These criteria agree with the study by Ara Ashraf (2018), which showed a substantial positive link with both teaching methodologies and students' German writing skills, according to the correlation study. This demonstrates how important these elements were in determining the methods of instruction employed in these schools. It is critical to acknowledge that these issues are influencing how Saudi foreign schools modify their pedagogical approaches (Alqahtani and Albidewi, 2022; Namusoke and Rukundo, 2022; Rahin, 2022). The availability of technological tools, for example, has a favorable impact on teaching practices and highlights how technology may improve German learning. The significance of active and engaging learning experiences is emphasized by the fact that participation and engagement levels of students are taken into account when choosing instructional tactics. The study also shows that teaching tactics are determined with consideration for students' learning styles and preferences, highlighting the personalized approach to education. Moreover, the findings demonstrate that teaching practices are significantly shaped by the institution’s resources and support. This emphasizes how crucial institutional support is to providing German training that works. The length of the class and time limits have an impact on teaching methodologies, emphasizing the necessity of flexibility and adaptation in presenting material within constrained time frames (Akolom et al., 2021; Alghazo et al., 2022; Ara Ashraf, 2018).

6. Conclusion

This study shows that teaching strategies have a significant effect on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools. The development of German writing skills among students in Saudi international schools is a critical educational goal. Traditional teaching strategies, such as direct instruction, grammar-translation and pen-and-paper exercises, have their place in building a strong foundation in grammar and language skills. However, they often fall short in fostering creative expression and critical thinking. Innovative teaching strategies, including process-based writing instruction, collaborative learning, technology-enhanced learning and genre-based instruction, are more effective in promoting the higher-order thinking skills necessary for proficient writing. They also align with the interactive nature of German as a European language. A combination of traditional and innovative teaching strategies is likely the most effective way to enhance students' German writing skills in Saudi international schools. By integrating the strengths of both approaches, educators can provide a balanced and comprehensive learning experience that equips students with the skills they need to succeed in academic and professional contexts. Further research is needed to refine and tailor these strategies to the specific needs of students in Saudi Arabia and to continually improve German writing instruction in international schools. This study sheds light on the crucial role of teaching strategies and external factors in shaping students' German writing skills in Saudi international schools. The findings emphasize the need for a balanced approach that combines traditional and innovative strategies while considering various influencing factors. As Saudi Arabia continues to pursue its Vision 2030 goals, a strategic and informed approach to German writing instruction is essential for the nation’s future success in the global arena.

6.1 Implications for practice and research

6.1.1 Implications for practice

The insights gained from this study can inform curriculum developers and educational policymakers in Saudi Arabia and similar contexts. Understanding the effectiveness of different teaching strategies can guide the design of more effective German language curricula that cater to diverse student needs.

The insights gained from this study can inform curriculum developers and educational policymakers in Saudi Arabia and similar contexts. Understanding the effectiveness of different teaching strategies can guide the design of more effective German language curricula that cater to diverse student needs.

6.1.2 Implications for research

This study contributes significantly to the existing body of research on language teaching strategies, particularly in the context of teaching German in Saudi international schools. It provides empirical evidence on the effectiveness of both traditional and innovative teaching strategies, thereby offering a nuanced understanding of how these strategies impact students' writing skills.

The findings serve as a foundation for future research, especially in exploring the dynamics of language acquisition in multicultural and multilingual settings like Saudi international schools. Researchers can build on this study to examine other aspects of language learning, such as speaking, listening and reading skills in German or other foreign languages.

6.2 Recommendations

Based on the study’s findings, several implications and recommendations can be made:

  1. Saudi international schools should continue to blend traditional and innovative teaching strategies to create a comprehensive and effective German writing curriculum.

  2. Educators should be encouraged to undergo training in innovative teaching methods, as these approaches have proven to positively influence students' writing skills.

  3. Schools and institutions should invest in technological resources to enhance German instruction and adapt teaching strategies to accommodate different learning preferences and styles.

  4. Continuous support and resources from institutions are crucial for maintaining effective teaching strategies, and administrators should recognize their role in achieving this.

6.3 Areas for future research

More research is needed to explore specific teaching strategies and their impact on students' writing skills in Saudi international schools, including the potential role of cultural factors.

Figures

Results on level of students’ German writing skills

Figure 1

Results on level of students’ German writing skills

Descriptive analysis

StatementCategoryFrequencyPercentage (%)
GenderMale18761.5
Female11738.5
Age bracketBelow 183712.2
18–2217858.5
Above 228929.3
Total304100

Source(s): Field survey (2023)

Effect of the different traditional teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools

StatementStrongly disagreeDisagreeNot sureAgreeStrongly agree
The use of direct grammar instruction has positively impacted students' German writing skills%1.34.22.634.557.4
Traditional spelling and handwriting practice have helped improve students' German writing%1.76.92.650.937.9
The utilization of traditional writing prompts has stimulated students' creativity and expression in German writing%0.48.54.758.727.7
Encouraging peer editing and feedback sessions has been effective in enhancing students' German writing skills%7.73.47.254.527.2
Emphasizing the use of templates and structured writing formats improves students' organization in their German writing%3.817.54.244.330.2

Source(s): Field survey (2023)

Results on innovative teaching strategies on students’ German writing skills at Saudi international schools

StatementStrongly disagreeDisagreeNot sureAgreeStrongly agree
Collaborative writing projects with classmates have helped me develop better German writing skills%1.36.24.662.525.4
The integration of multimedia (e.g. videos, images) in German writing assignments has made learning more engaging and effective%4.84.50.077.912.8
Flipped classroom techniques, where I learn new writing concepts at home and apply them in class, have improved my German writing skills%3.48.94.755.723.7
The use of real-world writing tasks (e.g. writing emails, reports) has better prepared me for practical German writing in the future%7.73.47.264.517.2
In-class writing workshops and one-on-one feedback sessions with the teacher have improved my German writing abilities%3.817.54.244.330.2
Peer feedback and peer editing activities have enhanced my ability to write in German%1.35.213.664.515.4

Source(s): Field survey (2023)

Factors influencing teaching strategies

StatementStrongly disagreeDisagreeNot sureAgreeStrongly agree
The availability of technological resources positively influences the choice of teaching strategies%0.920.91.741.734.8
Student engagement and participation levels influence the selection of teaching strategies%19.510.90.042.627.0
The learning preferences and styles of students affect teaching strategies%8.61.13.551.335.7
The size and diversity of the class impact teaching strategies%5.59.111.856.617.0
The support and resources provided by the institution influence teaching strategies%1.58.11.860.228.4
The time available for instruction and class duration impact teaching strategies%1.87.411.551.218.1

Source(s): Field survey (2023)

Cross-tabulation results

Students’ German writing skills (dep.)Traditional teaching strategiesInnovative teaching strategiesFactors influencing teaching strategies
Students’ German writing skills (dep.)1
Traditional teaching strategies0.648**1
0.00
Innovative teaching strategies0.551*0.649*1
0.020.000
Factors influencing teaching strategies0.715*0.905*0.846*1
0.000.000.000.00

Note(s): ** and *, respectively, indicate statistical significance at a 5% significance level

Source(s): Author’s own work

Summary of study variables and normality tests results

VariableMeanStandard deviationKolmogorov–Smirnov (p-value)Shapiro–Wilk (p-value)Anderson-Darling (critical value)
Students’ German writing skills3.850.620.220.180.76
Traditional teaching strategies4.200.580.450.320.72
Innovative teaching strategies3.950.750.100.070.80
Factors influencing teaching strategies4.150.670.150.120.78

Source(s): Field survey (2023), Author’s own work

Model summary

ModelRR squareAdjusted R squareStd. error of the estimate
0.613a6890.6922.1031

Note(s): aPredictors: (constant): traditional teaching strategies, innovative teaching strategies, factors influencing teaching strategies

Source(s): Field survey (2023)

ANOVA analysis

ModelSum of squaresdfMean squareFSig.
Regression23.210317.182125.1360.015
Residual3.258301
Total26.073304

Note(s): Dependent variable: students’ German writing skills

Predictors: (constant): traditional teaching strategies, innovative teaching strategies, factors influencing teaching strategies

Source(s): Field survey (2023)

Regression coefficients

ModelUnstandardized coefficientsStandardized coefficientsTSig.
BStd. ErrorBeta
(Constant)0.3180.136 2.4380.026
Traditional teaching strategies0.1960.0570.3973.7360.014
Innovative teaching strategies0.1840.0670.2133.1950.001
Factors influencing teaching strategies0.2160.0490.2823.5110.023

Note(s): Dependent variable: Students’ German writing skills

Source(s): Field survey (2023)

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Corresponding author

Abdullah Abdulmahsan Bin Saran can be contacted at: abinsaran@ksu.edu.sa

About the author

Dr Abdullah Abdulmahsan Bin Saran studied at the King Saud University at the Faculty of Languages and Translation in the German Department, the specialty of German translation, for 5 years. He did his B.A. After graduating in 2002, he worked as a language teacher in the same faculty. He taught German (A1-B2). Afterward, he got a scholarship to continue his master’s and PhD studies in Germany. In 2007, he completed his master’s in German as a foreign language (DaF) from Friedrich Schiller University Jena. In 2015, he completed his Ph.D. from Phillips University of Marburg. He is working at the King Saud University at the Faculty of Languages and Translation in the German Department as assistant professor of German as a foreign language. He works as a language teacher in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the Goethe Institute.

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