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Since the beginning of Oman’s “modern era” in 1970, English has assumed a central role in the country’s education system and has acted as a lingua franca across a variety of domains. However, despite this, graduates of Omani public schools are often reported as lacking the English-language linguistic and communicative abilities demanded by higher education institutions and the world of work. Consequently, most high school graduates entering tertiary education are required to enrol in foundation programs to improve their English language skills, while the employability of graduates seeking jobs straight from high school has also been reported as being negatively affected. Within this context, the current research explored the ways in which contextual factors relate to Omani school graduates’ development of English language skills. To achieve this, eight high school English language teaching supervisors responded to an on-line, open-ended question about the contextual factors they believed caused Omani school students to graduate with low English language proficiency. Results indicate that participants believed families, parents, and “Englishness” are the most important contextual factors contributing to this issue. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.
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