What Makes an Effective TESOL Teacher in the Gulf? An Empirical Exploration of Faculty-Student Perceptions for Context-Specific Teacher Preparation

Abstract views: 499 / PDF downloads: 285


  • Kashif Raza Qatar University
  • Christince Coombe Higher Colleges of Technology




context-specific teaching, teaching English to Arab students, TESOL teacher preparation, TESOL in the Gulf.


Teacher education continues to remain an area of exploration and further development in contemporary research. One significant question that dominates discussions that focus on teacher development is “what makes them effective for their students?” Research on context-specific teaching informs us that the metaphor “effective teacher” can be best described in light of the characteristics associated with the term in the context where this is being discussed and negotiated. Although the general list of qualities helps understand the dominant attributes of good teachers in the field, they do not always answer whether this makes a teacher successful in a specific context. To fill this gap, and to determine what teacher characteristics are valued the most in the Gulf context, the present study investigated faculty-student beliefs about the qualities of an effective English teacher using a mixed methods research design that utilized a bilingual survey to collect quantitative data from 66 teachers and 527 students, and individual interviews with 10 faculties and 14 students to further unpack the findings. This study reports that a teacher’s ability to employ an efficient teaching methodology and develop a compassionate relationship with their students, regardless of their gender, age, nationality and accent, are the most preferred qualities of an effective English teacher in the Gulf. These findings are helpful for educators, policymakers, teacher trainers, education leaders, and researchers in employing, developing, and designing teacher-training programs in specific contexts


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Kashif Raza, Qatar University

Lecturer in English at the Foundation Program, Qatar University

Christince Coombe, Higher Colleges of Technology

Assistant Professor, General Studies


Adams, B. (2019). The far reaching impact of transformative curriculum. Journal Of Curriculum Studies Research, 1(1), 17-32. https://doi.org/10.46303/jcsr.01.01.2 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/jcsr.01.01.2

Alogali, A. (2018). World Englishes: Changing the paradigm of linguistic diversity in global academia. Research in Social Sciences and Technology, 3(1), 54-73. https://doi.org/10.46303/ressat.03.01.4 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/ressat.03.01.4

Anderson, L. W. (2004). Increasing teacher effectiveness (2nd ed.). United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Arslan, C., & Tanis, B. M. (2018). Building English vocabulary schema retention using review value calculation for ESL students. Research in Social Sciences and Technology, 3(3), 116-134. https://doi.org/10.46303/ressat.03.03.7 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/ressat.03.03.7

Beckett, G. H., & Kobayashi, M. (2020). A Meta-study of an Ethnographic Research in a Multicultural and Multilingual Community: Negotiations, Resources, and Dilemmas. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 4(1), 85-106. https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/8267 DOI: https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/8267

Borg, S. (2006). The distinctive characteristics of foreign language teachers. Language Teaching Research, 10(1), 3-31. https://doi.org/10.1191/1362168806lr182oa DOI: https://doi.org/10.1191/1362168806lr182oa

Borg, S. (2018). Teacher evaluation: Global perspectives and their implications for English language teaching; a literature review. British Council.

Borg, S., & Edmett, A. (2019). Developing a self-assessment tool for English language teachers. Language Teaching Research, 23(5), 655-679. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168817752543 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168817752543

Charles, Q. D. (2019). Black teachers of English in South Korea: Constructing identities as a native English speaker and English language teaching professional. TESOL Journal, 10(4). https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.478 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.478

Coombe, C. (2013). 10 characteristics of highly effective EF/SL teachers. SPELT Quarterly, 28(4), 2-11.

Coombe, C. (2020). Quality education begins with teachers: What are the qualities that make a TESOL teacher great? In J. D. M. Agudo (Ed.), Quality in TESOL and teacher education: From a results culture towards a quality culture (pp. 173-184). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429198243-18

Crabtree, S. A. (2010). Engaging students from the United Arab Emirates in culturally responsive education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47(1), 85-94. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703290903525929 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14703290903525929

Creswell, J. W., Ivankova, N. V., & Stick, S. L. (2006). Using mixed-methods sequential explanatory design: From theory to practice. Field Methods, 18(1), 3-20. https://doi.org/10.1177/1525822X05282260 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1525822X05282260

Darling-Hammond, L., & Snyder, J. (2000). Authentic assessment of teaching in context. Teaching & Teacher Education, 16, 523-545. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-051X(00)00015-9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-051X(00)00015-9

DeCapua, A., & Marshall, H. W. (2011). Breaking new ground: Teaching students with limited or interrupted formal education in U.S. secondary schools. University of Michigan Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.1975824

DeCapua, A., Marshall, H. W., & Frydland, N. (2018). The transformational learning journey of a novice ESL teacher of low-literate adults. Journal of Transformative Education, 16(1), 17-38. https://doi.org/10.1177/1541344617704645 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1541344617704645

Donohue, D. (2020). Culture, cognition, and college: How do cultural values and theories of intelligence predict students’ intrinsic value for learning?. Journal of Culture and Values in Education. https://doi.org/10.46303/jcve.2020.3 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/jcve.2020.3

Douglas, S. R., & Rosvold, M. (2018). Intercultural communicative competence and English for academic purposes: A synthesis review of the scholarly literature. The Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 21(1), 23-42. https://doi.org/10.7202/1050809ar DOI: https://doi.org/10.7202/1050809ar

Glesne, C. (1999). Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction. Addison Wesley Longman.

Gourneau, B. (2005). Five attitudes of effective teachers: Implications for teacher training. Essays Education, 13, 1-8.

Klassen, R. M., Durksen, T. L., Hashmi, W. A., Kim, L. E., Longden, K., Metsapelto, R. L., Poikkeus, A. M., & Gyori, J. G. (2018). National context and teacher characteristics: Exploring the critical non-cognitive attributes of novice teachers in four countries. Teaching & Teacher Education, 72, 64-72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2018.03.001 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2018.03.001

Kourieos, S., & Evripidou, D. (2013). Students’ perceptions of effective EFL teachers in university settings in Cyprus. English Language Teaching, 6(11), 1-16. http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/elt.v6n11p1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v6n11p1

Kustati, M., & Al-Azmi, H. (2018). Pre-Service Teachers’ Attitude on ELT Research. Research in Social Sciences and Technology, 3(2), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.46303/ressat.03.02.1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/ressat.03.02.1

McBer, H. (2000). Research into teacher effectiveness: A model of teacher effectiveness. Department of Education, England. http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/4566/1/RR216.pdf

McKnight, K., Graybeal, J., Yarbro, J., & Graybeal, L. (2016). The heart of great teaching: Pearson global survey of educator effectiveness. Pearson Publishing. https://www.pearson.com/content/dam/one-dot-com/one-dot-com/global/Files/efficacy-and-research/schools/global-survey/reports/RINVN9283_GlobalSurvey_092016.pdf

Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. (2008). Culturally Responsive Classroom Management Strategies. https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/uploads/005/121/Culturally%20Responsive%20Classroom%20Mgmt%20Strat2.pdf

Mezirow, J. (1978). Perspective transformation. Adult Education, 28, 100-110. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/074171367802800202

Miles, M., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. Sage.

Parker, J. (2019). Second language learning and cultural identity. Journal of Curriculum Studies Research, 1(1), 33-42. https://doi.org/10.46303/jcsr.01.01.3 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/jcsr.01.01.3

Raza, K. (2018). Adapting teaching strategies to Arab student needs in an EFL classroom. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Studies, 5(1), 16-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/93

Raza, K. (2019). Student-teacher responsibilities in English studies: An empirical analysis of Arab student and English faculty perceptions. Arab World English Journal, 10(2), 307-322. https://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awej/vol10no2.24 DOI: https://doi.org/10.24093/awej/vol10no2.24

Raza, K. (2020). Differentiated instruction in English language teaching: Insights into the implementation of Raza’s teaching adaptation model in Canadian ESL classrooms. TESL Ontario Contact Magazine, 46(2), 41-50.

Rubie-Davies, C. M., Peterson, E., Irving, E., Widdowson, D., & Dixon, R. (2010). Expectations of achievement: Student, teacher and parent perceptions. Research in Education, 83, 36- 53. https://doi.org/10.7227/RIE.83.4 DOI: https://doi.org/10.7227/RIE.83.4

Ruecker, T., & Ives, L. (2015). White native English speakers needed: The rhetorical construction of privilege in online teacher recruitment spaces. TESOL Quarterly, 49(4), 733-756. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.195 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.195

Sander, P., Stevenson, K., Coates, D., & King, M. (2000). University students’ expectations of teaching. Studies in Higher Education, 25(3), 309-323. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070050193433 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070050193433

Shin, J., & Jeon, M. (2018). Intercultural competence and critical English language teacher education. English Teaching, 73(4), 125-147. https://doi.org/10.15858/engtea.73.4.201812.125 DOI: https://doi.org/10.15858/engtea.73.4.201812.125

Sonleitner, N., & Khelifa, M. (2005). Western-educated faculty challenges in a Gulf classroom. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives, 2(1), 1-21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18538/lthe.v2.n1.07

Syed, Z. (2003). TESOL in the Gulf: The sociocultural context of English language teaching in the Gulf. TESOL Quarterly, 37(2), 337-341. https://doi.org/10.2307/3588508 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3588508

Tatar, M., & Da’as, R. (2012). Teacher’s perceptions of their significance towards their students: The effects of cultural background, gender, and school role. Journal of Psychology of Education, 27(3), 351-367. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-011-0075-4 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-011-0075-4

TESOL International Association. (2006). Position statement against discrimination of nonnative speakers of English in the field of TESOL. https://www.tesol.org/docs/pdf/5889.pdf

Vural, H. (2019). The relationship of personality traits with English speaking anxiety. Research in Educational Policy and Management, 1(1), 55-74. https://doi.org/10.46303/repam.01.01.5 DOI: https://doi.org/10.46303/repam.01.01.5

Weinstein, C. S., Tomlinson-Clarke, S., & Curran, M. (2004). Toward a conception of culturally responsive classroom management. Journal of Teacher Education, 55(1), 25-38. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487103259812 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487103259812

Woofter, S. (2019). Book Review: Building Equity: Policies and Practices to Empower All Learners. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 3(1), 136-139. https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/5815 DOI: https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/5815




How to Cite

Raza, K., & Coombe, C. (2020). What Makes an Effective TESOL Teacher in the Gulf? An Empirical Exploration of Faculty-Student Perceptions for Context-Specific Teacher Preparation. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 8(1), 143–162. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/538



Original Manuscript