Al Yamamah Prospective Employees

Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective EFL/ESL instructors interested in working at INTERLINK International Institutes at Al Yamamah University often have similar questions, so we have answered some of the most commonly asked questions below. Click the questions to view the answers. Please contact us for further information or view our available positions.

The Program

What is INTERLINK at Al Yamamah University?

With separate campuses for men and women in Riyadh, and the third campus in Al khobar on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, Al Yamamah University (YU) offers undergraduate degrees in Business Administration, Architecture & Engineering, and Law and Master’s degrees in Executive Business Administration, Business Administration, Human Resources Management, Management Information Systems, and Business Law. English being the medium of instruction, INTERLINK has partnered with Al Yamamah to provide the foundation year intensive English language program to prepare students for their academic studies at the University. INTERLINK at Al Yamamah’s other constituencies are: academically bound students; businesses and government agencies whose personnel need tailored, short-term programs for special purposes; K-12 schools needing teacher training; and individuals in the larger community wishing to improve their English language skills for personal, professional, and study abroad purposes. The INTERLINK-Al Yamamah partnership is also aimed at increasing international understanding and awareness as well as facilitating educational exchanges between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and North America.
INTERLINK and Al Yamamah University have shared values and educational philosophies. They believe in the learner-centered approach that employs an innovative, experiential and project-based curriculum to help students reach their learning goals. As a result, both institutions have been growing steadily as they have been recognized for their quality of instruction, client-focused services, customer satisfaction and focus on student success.

What is INTERLINK’s role/mission in the teaching/learning contexts?

We are part of a process of change in the Saudi educational system – one that the Saudis are initiating. We are there to help Al Yamamah University graduates improve their English for academic and professional purposes as well as help students strengthen their academic and critical thinking skills in preparation for seeking further studies and/or employment. This requires teachers to work collaboratively and cooperatively to reinforce each other’s efforts, to utilize relevant language, to make needed additions to, or adjustments in, our curriculum, and to lead students gently but firmly toward the ownership of responsibility for learning. The onus is on us to enable students to be successful.

What is the scope of the program?

Offered on all three campuses, it is a four-semester program that INTERLINK and Al Yamamah University jointly manage. The program consists of eight levels: three Pre-Orientation levels (CELP 1 to 3), which are beginner levels and five Orientation levels (ORN 1 to ORN 5) which are intermediate and advanced levels. Each level consists of a Reading/Writing class and a Communication Skills class; each class is a two-hour block. All entering students are assessed for proficiency and placed in one of the eight levels.

The Students

Who are the students?

The majority of the students are Saudi high school graduates (18 – 25 years old) and a small number of international students.

What is the students’ attitude toward authority – such as parents, teachers, etc.? Are they typically respectful or not?

Students are generally very respectful, especially of parents and teachers. However, they often lack experience with completing assignments on time. Managing time is a challenge for them which means sometimes students try to negotiate deadlines and/or important projects.

What are Saudi students generally interested in?

Most young Saudis use their mobile phones and tablets profusely as they are up-to-date with the latest social media apps and programs (such as Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). Students also love video games such as PlayStation, Wii, etc. and they also like to surf the Internet. Cinemas and theaters as well as live concerts are gaining popularity among young Saudis. Many Saudis now enjoy the activities arranged by Riyadh Season, the General Entertainment Authority, which hosts around 500 events, covering everything from music and arts to food and sport, which last for five months.
Some Saudis spend most of their time either at home or in restaurants with their families and friends. Many Saudis also travel quite frequently to a variety of international locations. Football (soccer) is a major interest. Many men attend events at the King Fahad Stadium as they are proud supporters of their local and national teams.

Are students very shy, or are they happy to talk when drawn out?

This varies as is the case in any institution in any country. Our role is to increase their skill and confidence for academic studies and work. We help them using written and spoken communication scenarios, in and out of class, which offer them opportunities to practice and develop these skills and confidence. Some can already be charming and friendly in English, but it is important to help them add substance to style.

Is it possible or appropriate to meet with students after class for extracurricular activities such as informal discussions, conversation groups, joint sports activities and other outdoor activities during lunchtime or after school?

Yes, such interactions are highly encouraged since they will be in English. However, as with any interaction between students and instructors, it is necessary that the relationship remains formal and that we are mindful of situations that might involve cultural misinterpretations or misunderstandings. A good rule of thumb is to keep interactions on campus and to stay away from accepting gifts above SAR 100.

How much English have students learned during their high school experience?

Students studied English for at least six years in their general education at government schools and eight or more if they come from private and/or international schools. That said, actual proficiency varies, and while some would place in ORN 1 and ORN 2 (levels 4 and 5 in our 8-level program) or higher, a larger majority have very basic skills at best and would place in CELP 1, 2, or 3 (the first three levels). Orally, some students can talk somewhat fluently while others are true beginners. Most have very limited reading and writing skills and sometimes critical thinking skills.

How motivated are the students?

Many students are motivated to study English since they want to study via the English language or are on scholarships. Generally, in either case, students are products of a rote-learning system. INTERLINK’s mission involves the development of critical thinking skills in learners who have had limited experience with these concepts. Thus, the instructors are expected to assist students as much with motivation, time management, and learning strategies as with the language itself.

What are some of the challenges teachers may find with their students?

The biggest challenge lies in taking students who have been trained in a highly authoritarian school system (where memorization and examinations are all-important) and inculcating in them a new approach to learning. We want our students to become critical thinkers, take responsibility for their learning, become independent, autonomous learners, and get used to group work, with regular, continuous assessment. It is a continuing challenge to get them to truly understand how a system alien to them will be much better for them than what they are used to.

The Teaching Context

What is the number of teaching contact hours?

The weekly instructional hours are 20-23, plus one office hour perday. This consists of two, two-hour class sessions (one for Reading/Writing and one for Communication Skills)

What is a typical class size?

Typically, you will find 15 to 20 students per class.

What is a typical daily schedule?

Working hours begin at 8:00 am end at 4:00 pm, with a one-hour lunch break (during noon prayer time). From 8:30 to 10:30 all students at all levels take the Reading/Writing classes. Communication class is from 10:30 to 12:30. Many Orientation students take academic subjects in conjunction with English. The specific schedule for academic classes may vary: it may start later in the day—perhaps even in the afternoon.

What kind of curriculum does the program have?

For INTERLINK, a curriculum is not a set of textbooks or materials, a sequence of grammar points, etc. It is instead ideas and guidance about teaching approach/methodology and a set of expected ability/skills outcomes (benchmarks) that a teacher is responsible for helping students to achieve and demonstrate by the end of the course. Teachers are not responsible for “covering material”; they are responsible for helping students develop and demonstrate specified language abilities for the levels they are teaching. In INTERLINK classes, to as great an extent as possible, materials are generated by the students themselves, with guidance from the teacher, to assure the relevance of content to the benchmarks and the active engagement of students in the learning process. The Curriculum Description and Instructional Guidelines, as well as the Benchmark and Objectives documents provide copious information and ideas.

How much freedom does the curriculum allow individual teachers?

In addition to pedagogical principles and learning objectives, the curriculum contains suggestions and ideas for class activities. The teacher has considerable latitude to use this framework to devise activities and classroom dynamics that suit his/her own benchmark-focused objectives and the needs/interests of the students. At the same time, through collaborative work, teachers will need to assure that the quality and amount of work in the Reading/Writing and Communication level/class are complementary to each other. Teachers of the same level across sections and campuses meet regularly and are expected to follow guidelines to ensure fairness for students in expectations about assignments and assessment. On-going curriculum discussions will allow curricular improvement and enable us to learn from one another’s experiences. While some traditional resources in the form of commercial textbooks, audio, and video resources have been compiled over the years and are made available to teachers as resources, and in line with student-centered approaches, the focus remains on using student-produced materials as resources and not relying on commercial textbooks for learning. The materials selected for a certain course are governed by the course objectives, learner’s linguistic needs and interests, and the purpose of the tasks for which the materials are selected. Those who are not willing to change to and buy into a different – albeit not new — philosophy of teaching/learning, are not suited for the INTERLINK students or programs.

How is the student viewed differently in a learner-centered classroom?

The student, rather than the teacher, must be the active person in the learning process, responsible for transforming information, discovering the language, and constructing hypotheses regarding language use. The teacher uses techniques which foster motivation, encourage student involvement, minimize obstacles to learning, promote independent learning, and aid in the development of critical thinking skills. Lesson content is a means to an end, not the end itself, and language is utilized as a tool rather than the actual subject of study. Class activities focus on using language for communicative purposes rather than learning about the elements of language (vocabulary, syntax) for their own sake. For example, students might have as an assignment to interview one or several persons they know about a topic. A class might then work on determining questions that they would ask (this would involve reflection on form/grammar, context, etc. by students, prompted in part by teacher questions), then doing interviews which they record with their mobile phones or another recording device, before reporting on the interview, listening to other students’ interviews, etc. and perhaps then doing a second round, or other spin-off activities.

What teaching resources are available? Will INTERLINK provide extensive materials, or would it be good to bring my own?

We believe that the best resources are the students themselves and we discourage lockstep use of textbooks, decontextualized worksheets, and photocopied exercises from textbooks and workbooks. To the degree possible, we believe that many lessons can start from students’ own experience and knowledge, and from sufficient numbers of different examples from which students can form hypotheses and discover language functions and nexus. The success of the learning process greatly depends on the teacher’s creative ability to set up communicative situations (oral and written), elicit language from students, and devise (and eventually enable students to devise) activities based on what students produce or provide. Online resources are useful, and much of what we prepare initially will eventually be modified by you or in response to your creations or experiences, in conjunction with your Instructional Coordinator, as we determine more specifically what generic skills students’ need for their future academic success.
It is important for students to develop the ability to create the questions, topics, etc. which serve as the basis for work on language, and what they create can be the basis of group and individual response, rather than canned exercises.

If content is not specified, then how does assessment work? Are there standardized tests that determine grades?

The curriculum sets outcome objectives/benchmarks for students, in terms of “student demonstrates ability to __”. The list of target outcomes for each level/group will serve as the starting point for determining how teachers or administrators will know/determine that a student has met all or some of the objectives. Much of the assessment approach, for both oral and written production, centers around portfolio collection and evaluation. A student’s collected output, over time, tells the story, so the teacher’s focus is on making sure that a student has many opportunities each week to produce language, and that there is a steady flow back from the teacher of individualized, constructive feedback that points the student toward the areas he needs to focus on and specific suggested actions to take to make progress toward the benchmark abilities. Teachers produce written mid-term reports in Week 4 of the term in which they evaluate and comment on progress and a final report at the end of each-week term, summarizing the student’s proficiency level at the exit point of the level.

What is the role of technology in this curriculum?

Because this group of students can benefit from more structure, the program uses the university-provided Moodle-based Learning Management System (LMS) to make sure that assignments, feedback, assessment, blogs, discussion groups, etc. are all organized in ways that enable students and teachers to keep track of performance, instructions, etc. Teachers are also encouraged to explore other features/uses of LMS for assignment reminders, sharing materials, and giving individualized feedback, and following up on students’ progress. This means that teachers need to become familiar with this (training modules are provided to train teachers in the use of technology) then enable students to use it—from students’ own computers or personal devices.

Are classrooms equipped with computers with appropriate software (for PowerPoint presentations, etc.), and other audiovisual equipment?

Al Yamamah University classrooms have projectors and internet connections, and some classrooms are equipped with smart boards. You will need to ensure you have your own laptop, speakers (and connectors) that work for use in the classroom.

Will I have my own private office space?

Program instructors have their own offices on campus. In most if not all cases, these are located in partitioned areas.

Will I have access to e-mail and the Internet from my office?

As with classrooms, teachers have access to the Internet on campus, and an IT department is in place to provide the technical support needed on campus. Also, an INTERLINK email address will be provided to each teacher to use for all work-related communications.

What other facilities and equipment will I have access to on campus?

Instructors have access to printers and copying machines (though, as indicated above, the role of the copying machine is not to enable reversion to traditional present and explain teaching), library, resource room, gymnasium, food court, and lunchroom.

What is appropriate dress on campus?

As with all societies, Saudi society is governed by its own rules: social, religious, and governmental. Overall, life in Saudi Arabia is guided by the rules which prescribe that we are modest in dress, behavior, and conduct. An employee does not meet expectations if s/he goes to campus inappropriately attired in wrinkled, worn-out, and/or dirty clothes, blue jeans, tennis shoes/sneakers/trainers/sandals, T-shirt, or if their “appropriate” clothes are worn sloppily, or if a man comes in a thobe or a woman teaches in an abaya. If we want to be transformative (and we do), then we have to “walk the talk” and demonstrate in our own “presentation of self” the respect we accord and want to be accorded, and the respect for self and others that is a part of effective companies and organizations. (See examples below of unacceptable dress for the workplace and classroom).
When in public, modest attire for men and women is suggested. For colleagues not to attract unnecessary attention in public, we suggest that women wear long skirts and men not wear shorts in public. For on-campus, formal dress for men and women is required. See pictures below for inappropriate attire.

Inappropriate dress for men:

The Abaya, head scarf, and professional attire for men and women:

Arrival & Accommodations

When are new instructors expected to arrive?

We aim to have new instructors join us for the beginning of the new academic year, preferably before the 2-3 weeks before the start of the semester to participate in a series of workshops –called Training and Orientation (T&O) on different aspects of the program/curriculum, life and work in Riyadh before they integrate their classes. Prior to arrival in the country, new faculty will also receive online training and orientation. Instructors hired at other times of the year will be assigned a reporting date as contracts are signed, visa process permitting, and are given a T&O on the go based on the specific schedule assigned to the instructor upon arrival. While the training is mainly under the supervision of the specific teacher’s Instructional Coordinator, some sessions are facilitated by other management members as well.

What kind of housing and transportation will I have?

The INTERLINK faculty and staff are provided a housing allowance.

  • Housing or a housing allowance is not provided for instructors whose spouses may be receiving housing or housing allowances from their employers.
  • Transportation to and from work, and also two weekly shopping trips for food, etc. will be provided by INTERLINK/Al Yamamah for faculty living in university-provided accommodation. Other trips should be arranged by instructors themselves. Taxi services are available in Riyadh for reasonable prices.
Is tutoring or teaching privately or at other institutions allowed?

No. Any activity for additional remuneration is strictly forbidden by Saudi law and by INTERLINK/Al Yamamah policy. Those not obeying the policies of INTERLINK and Al Yamamah or the rules and regulations of the country will be subject to immediate deportation and loss of contract.

Is there a grievance policy in place?

When a grievance arises, the instructor first tries to address it with his/her Assistant Director. If this fails, he then submits a description of the issue in writing to the INTERLINK at General Director. Only if that office is unable to provide a satisfactory resolution, the INTERLINK Home Office in the U.S. is brought in, as a final arbiter.


What kind of visa must I have for Saudi Arabia?

A work visa is the standard visa for instructors.

What are the requirements to get a visa?

Saudi embassies abroad differ in their requirements for granting work visas. Please visit the webpage of the Saudi embassy in your country for the most current requirements:


Visa Info 

Visa Info

Visa Info
New Zealand

Visa Info
South Africa

Visa Info
Washington, D.C.,
United States

Visa Info
United Kingdom

Visa Info 

When should I start my visa preparation?

Immediately after you have been accepted for the post, apply for your visa. Since each embassy has a different set of requirements for issuing visas, please read the requirements for your specific region on the appropriate embassy’s website. Some embassies require electronic applications prior to paper submissions of documents. Knowing the specific requirements of the embassy that might be granting you a visa is essential in this process and will save us all much time, energy and resources.

What documents will INTERLINK/Al Yamamah send or provide for me to apply for a work visa?

When it is possible—either before you come, or, more likely, at a break when there is enough time for the process, the INTERLINK/Al Yamamah office in Riyadh will provide you with three documents:

  1. Your official contract which should be signed and stamped by INTERLINK/Al Yamamah. You should print a copy of this document, sign it, and submit it with your visa application to the Saudi embassy (If applying for a work visa).
  2. A visa authorization document required by the Saudi embassy for issuing a visa. This document includes the employer’s name, your name, your job title, the visa number, and the place where the visa should be issued. When this document is issued, it means that your visa is already registered in Ministry of Foreign Affairs and put online in the Enjaz visa system, which the Saudi Embassy to which you will apply for your visa needs to access in order to issue a visa.
  3. An invitation letter from YU addressed to the Saudi embassy or consulate in support of your application.

(Please note that some Saudi embassies websites are not updated and contain old information requiring such documents as the company’s registration document, or a letter stamped by the chamber of commerce and MOFA, etc. Those requirements were waived after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs implemented the Enjaz visa system, which allows authorized agents to input all the necessary information in the system.)

What other documents will I need to submit to obtain a work visa?

There is little uniformity in regulations, procedures or practices of the different Saudi embassies around the world. Some require credential evaluation while others don’t; some require detailed medical examinations while others require only that their forms be filled out by a medical doctor. However, in general, the documents that you should submit with the documents we send you are:

  1. Original copies of your credentials and diplomas. These are required by the embassy as well as by INTERLINK/Al Yamamah. Without these, no visa can be issued. Please contact your educational institutions to send you or us original copies of your degree diplomas and transcripts.
  2. Medical examinations and certain blood tests. Medical examinations are to be reported on the embassy’s medical forms. These must be done in the country from which you are applying for the visa—probably your home country. If you have a regular physician, s/he may be able to use your medical history to shorten the exam. (Medical tests are usually only valid for 90 days.) Prior to undergoing the medical exam or tests, inquire about the cost. Medical costs should not exceed $300. Should a doctor or a clinic quote you a higher figure, you must contact the INTERLINK office for permission to exceed that limit.
  3. A police clearance: Some embassies/consulates will accept a report from the police in your country of residence, while others will only accept a report from the police authorities in your country of birth. For British Citizens, for example, this means applying directly to Scotland Yard through the Criminal Records Office in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. (The agent will provide you with the exact cost and may be able to speed up the process).
  4. A valid passport (valid for 6-18 months, depending on the embassy)
  5. If you have a spouse/dependant(s), proof of relationship (a copy of the marriage certificate for the spouse and a copy of the birth certificate for the child(ren)
  6. If you have not been out of Saudi Arabia for at least two years since your last employment in the Kingdom, you should have a release letter from your previous employer (“Letter of No Objection – or “LONO”).
  7. If you are working in a country other than your own, a certification of work or employment authorization from your current employer may be necessary. Please check the specific requirements with the embassy to which you are applying for a visa

Most Saudi Arabian embassies now work through agents; please check the website of the Saudi Embassy to get the contact information of the local agents that you should deal with. When mailing documents to the embassy, if appropriate, make sure that you always send a self-addressed, prepaid return envelope or prepaid FedEx envelope with your documents. Otherwise, they may not ever be returned to you. Always keep photocopies of the documents you send.

Read carefully everything that we have written about this process and note nationality specific information so that you are fully familiar with the different regulations and requirements before formally applying for a visa.

What form of identification would I have? Should I carry my passport all the time?

You will be issued a residence card (Iqama), which will be processed by the INTERLINK/Al Yamamah HR office. You will need to do a quick medical test as a requirement for the Iqama. You should carry your Iqama with you all the time. Now, there is a government-sponsored application, which you can download on your phone to have a digital copy of your Iqama.

Do I need a local driver’s license or can I use the driver’s license I already have?

You need to have a Saudi driver’s license to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. But your country’s driver’s license will save you time when you apply for a Saudi one. You will need to have your Iqama issued prior to applying for a driver’s license.

What about my bank account? Can my pay be transferred to my personal bank account in my home country/outside of Saudi Arabia?

Your monthly pay will be transferred to a Saudi bank account. As soon as you have your Iqama, you should be able to open a bank account in any local bank.

Will I have medical insurance?

INTERLINK/Al Yamamah faculty will receive medical insurance that is widely accepted in a large network of hospitals and clinics. The health insurance plan covers regular visits to physicians, dentists and eye doctors. It is important to read the insurance policy to know what it covers and the health institutions and services covered by the insurance.

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