Lack of English proficiency among secondary school graduates is a significant issue in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as English is the medium of instruction in federal universities. Due to this, one-third of the UAE government’s university budget is spent on remedial courses that seek to develop the English-language skills of incoming university students (Salem & Swan, 2014).
This policy paper examines research conducted in 2014-2015 on the English language learning experiences of female students enrolled in the remedial Foundation program at a federal institute in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. The results of the study indicate that the UAE’s current class grouping policy at the secondary school level disadvantages lower-performing students and needs to be reexamined. This paper recommends that the current policy be revised to group students in English classes according to their English-language abilities.