This study was designed to investigate the spoken communication difficulties encountered by the fourth-year EFL students of some rural faculties of Aden University and the factors that might negatively contribute to their poor acquisition of spoken communication proficiency during their learning of English in these faculties to reach some suggestions and solutions that may help in changing the current situation and enabling the concerned EFL programs produce proficient speakers of English. The data were collected through varied instruments, namely students’ questionnaire (n = 120), teachers’ questionnaire (n = 23), students’ interviews (n = 30), speaking skill teachers’ interviews (n = 4), students’ spoken communication proficiency assessment rubric (n = 42), classroom observations (n = 6), and an assessment of speaking skill syllabi. The collected data were analyzed by using the SPSS 21st version and manually. The results revealed that the majority of the students encounter fluency and automaticity related difficulties and lack of communication strategies. Moreover, some students also share one or more difficulties with these two major ones, such as phonological difficulties, comprehension difficulties, sociocultural difficulties, lack of discourse knowledge, affective difficulties, and lexical and grammatical difficulties, respectively. Though the majority of the students seem to have mastered a somehow sufficient level of grammar and vocabulary, many of them cannot put their lexical and grammatical knowledge into use orally. It has also been revealed that several factors are responsible for students’ poor acquisition of spoken communication proficiency. These factors can be categorized into five types, namely a. factors related to the students themselves, namely students’ lack of language learning strategies to develop spoken English and lack of integrative motivation, b. factors related to student’s past education, namely students’ poor English level when they joined the concerned faculties in addition to the traditional learning habits they brought from their pre-tertiary education, c. factors related to students’ environment, namely lack of exposure to spoken English provided by the environment, d. factors related to teaching methodology, such as lack of communicative activities, majority of the students are rarely engaged in spoken activities, mother tongue use in English classes, no language laboratory or ICTs, low qualifications of some teachers, i.e. a semi-traditional teaching setting is still dominant in most classes, and e. curriculum-related factors, namely lack of time devoted to teaching spoken communication skills and the overuse of non-English subjects. As per the results, this study has provided some suggestions and solutions that will help in changing the current situation and enabling the concerned EFL programs to produce proficient speakers of English.
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