The Impact of Students’ Cultural Capital on their Learning Experiences in an EFL Programme in Higher Education

Turki Assulaimani, Haitham Ali Althubaiti


Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital is a potent theoretical device in the analysis of the correlation between familial educational background and individual student performance and outcomes in higher education. The theory of cultural capital enables culture to be conceived as an asset that furnishes its possessors with advantages that can be transferred from parent to child. This paper explores how the possession of cultural capital by students of English as a foreign language at a Saudi university can influence their subsequent learning. Specifically, this study examines how familial education shapes student outcomes in an EFL programme. This relationship has been investigated extensively in different contexts around the world, but not sufficiently within the Saudi context. The findings of the current study are significant as they indicate that Saudi students accrue certain advantages from the educational experiences and resources available to them in their social environments. Furthermore, the study reveals that students with a deficit of cultural capital and no family history of higher education encounter more problems in the EFL programme and demonstrate overall lower levels of language proficiency.


Familial Education, Cultural Capital, English as a Foreign Language, English Language Learning, Educational Attainment

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