ChapterPDF Available

The shape of the language teacher

Pulverness, A. (Ed.) (2002).
: York Conference Selections.
, Kent: IATEFL, 75
slightly revised
in which the references and bibliography
in this volume)
have been restored
is available from
Teacher Trainers and Educators
ITEFL Special Interest Group website:
4.3 The shape of the language teacher
Costas Gabrielatos
Lancaster University, England
There are two broad views on what makes a language teacher effective. One focuses on
teachers' language and methodological knowledge/skills, the other on teachers'
personality. Here I present a framework which:
conciles these views, giving equal weight to all elements
proposes a way to visualise their interrelations
takes into account research findings indicating that teachers' practices are mostly
fluenced by their
of methodologies.
I have expanded Julian Edge's term 'person-
into 'person-
language'. Each word points towards an indispensable element in a language teacher's
profile (Fig. 1).
knowledge and skills
knowledge and use
Fig I
The following tables show the key aspects of each element.
Interpersonal skills
Ability to observe, think critically,
use experience
Sensitivity to context
Attitude towards change,
diversity, quality, co
Perception of learning,
teacher/learner roles, development
Views on methodology
Available materials
Own views on learning/teaching
Seeing implications of theory
Planning and teaching
Balancing support and challenge
Action research
Views on language
Awareness of own views on
Own language use
Ability to see the implications of
language analysis, draw conclusions
from own contact with language
Sensitivity to learners' language level
This framework depicts a teacher's effectiveness as the area of a triangle, with each
side representing the degree of develo
of an
(Fig. 2). The larger the area,
the higher the effectiveness.
Fig. 2
Apart from comparing different triangles, it Is also helpful to compare the sides of
individual triangles, that is, examine the
relative degree
of each element.
All elements are
They are utilised to their full capacity and
combined to maximum effect (Fig. 2).
One element is far
The less developed element limits the effect of
others (Fig. 3). This representation can also explain why teachers using different
methodologies show comparable success: combinations of different levels of
can produce equal triangles.
One element is far
. The more de
veloped element cannot be fully
(Fig. 4).
There is some overlap between the elements. For example, teachers' perception/
knowledge of language will influence their teaching; their general level of self-
will affect their awareness of their beliefs about language/learning.
Fig. 4
Some observations
An equilateral triangle will have the largest area of any triangle of the same perimeter.
This can be seen as a metaphor for the benefits of well
balanced development.
It is essential that all three elements are above
'threshold of acceptability'. True,
such cut-off points are arbitrary, but such thresholds are already used in education and in
determining entrance to professions.
Limited/faulty language knowledge will communicate inaccuracies. Inappropriate
methodology will make learning too time-consuming and may discourage learners. An
uninterested or offensive teacher will offer little support and few opportunities, and may
tivate learners.
The triangle framework is a crude representation of the complex interrelations that make
up the profile of a language teacher. It is proposed as a point of departure, a way to
visualise the interaction of the basic elements contributing to a language teacher's
... Research on effective EFL teachers has revealed a number of qualities that contribute to students' language learning success. These qualities have mostly revolved around a number of categories: personality, language knowledge, teaching methods, organization and communication skills, and socioaffective skills (Abu-Rahmah, 2008;Al-Mahrooqi et al., 2015;Baytur & Razi, 2015;Brosh, 1996;Febriyanti, 2018;Gabrielatos, 2002;Park & Lee, 2006;Salahshour & Hajizadeh, 2013;Taqi et al., 2015;Wichadee, 2010). In addition, having reviewed literature on the effectiveness of EFL teachers, Al-Seghayer (2017) summarized those qualities into five main categories: cognitive knowledge, content knowledge, language proficiency, personality traits, and other related key variables that can be achieved through a number of channels, including initiatives and training programs and support and professional development opportunities. ...
... The effectiveness of a language teacher is determined by two broad views: language and methodological knowledge/ skills, and personality. Gabrielatos (2002) combined these two views into one framework that includes three main elements: personality, methodology, and language. Gabrielatos elaborated on Edge's (2002, as cited in Gabrielatos, 2002 term "person-who-teaches" in which personality of teacher is stressed. ...
... The findings have showed that very little research, if not, has been conducted about the qualities of effective EFL teachers in students' perspective in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this study will make use of Gabrielatos's (2002) framework of effective EFL teacher that focuses on three areas: personality, methodology, and language to answer the following questions: ...
Full-text available
The successful output of language learning process should ensure effective inputs by the key figures (teacher, student, stakeholder, and curricula) of education. This study aimed to examine preuniversity students’ perceptions on the attributes of an effective English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher in Saudi Arabia. Mixed-methods research design was applied to a sample of 231 students (135 males & 96 females) enrolled in the preparatory year program at a Saudi public university in the southern region of Saudi Arabia. The data were collected using two instruments: 5-point Likert-type scale and open-ended questions. The students’ responses on the closed questionnaire were analyzed using descriptive analysis and independent t test, whereas the data from the open-ended questions were analyzed by chi-square (cross tabulation) and MS Excel using thematic analysis. The findings indicated that 88% of Saudi preuniversity students agree on the high importance of the attributes of personality, methodology, and language knowledge that make an effective EFL teacher. Cultural awareness is of significance to the effectiveness of EFL teacher. However, gender was reported as an insignificant variable to the effectiveness of EFL teacher. In addition, fame, age, and country of EFL teachers did not reveal any connection to the teaching effectiveness of EFL teachers. Recommendations, implications, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
... This is done to arrive at an understanding of the subject of teacher characteristics and its relation to effective teaching and learning and to provide a platform from which to advance the idea of English language teacher profiling. A framework proposed by Gabrielatos (2002) is used for this purpose because of its relevance to the discussion on teacher characteristics and teaching effectiveness. The views and opinions of language instructors on the X factor characteristics profile of an English language teacher were also obtained from instructors who have had twenty years' experience in the field of ELT (English Language Teaching) in one of the local public universities. ...
... This part of the paper starts by looking at the Framework of Effective Language Teachers proposed by Gabrielatos (2002), as illustrated in Figure 1.0. The framework illustrates the relationship between three elements namely, methodology, language and personality. ...
... The framework forms the basis of the term 'person -who-teaches ' (Julian Edge, 1999). This framework is adopted by Gabrielatos (2002) to illustrate further the context of ' person -whoteaches -language". ...
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Phrases such as 'learning English is fun' or 'English is fun' are often heard when one speaks about learning English especially in a context where English is not the mother tongue of the learners. What about when the focus shifts to English language teachers on the other hand, who are non-native speakers of English? The focus on the teacher other than the curriculum, syllabus, material and pedagogy needs considerable attention in promoting effective English language learning. What are the profile characteristics of an English teacher that can help most importantly first boost the students' motivation and interest to learn English. Studies have explored in general the characteristics of effective language teachers but to what extent has it identified the 'X' factors. This paper addresses a discussion on the the profile characteristics of specifically non – native English language teachers. It focuses on the relevance of the 'qualities' of English language teachers' in relations to English teacher attributes specifically.We gathered the views and opinions of English language instructors teaching English at one of the local higher institutions who are non-native and who have had twenty years' experience in the field of ELT (English Language Teaching) on what they believe is the X factor characteristics profile of an English language teacher.
... In order to reach the aim of the study, the author first analysed theoretical and methodological literature on what constitutes good teaching and learning of English as a foreign language. Literature analysis proves that in spite of reforms in education and changing times, good teaching continuously involves three main constituent elements which are a teacher's personality, a teacher's knowledge of the language itself and a teacher's skills to apply relevant language teaching and learning methodology (Johnson & Golombek, 2020;Goksel & Rakicioglu-Soylemez, 2018;Darling-Hammond, 2006;Gabrielatos, 2002). Gabrielatos (2002) provides a visual comparison of the relationship of the three elements to those of an equilateral triangle, which is stable only if all three sides are of equal length. ...
... Literature analysis proves that in spite of reforms in education and changing times, good teaching continuously involves three main constituent elements which are a teacher's personality, a teacher's knowledge of the language itself and a teacher's skills to apply relevant language teaching and learning methodology (Johnson & Golombek, 2020;Goksel & Rakicioglu-Soylemez, 2018;Darling-Hammond, 2006;Gabrielatos, 2002). Gabrielatos (2002) provides a visual comparison of the relationship of the three elements to those of an equilateral triangle, which is stable only if all three sides are of equal length. He proposes an idea that such interaction of the three elements fosters efficiency of language teachers. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Education has always been a subject to changes structure and content wise; its quality has been an issue all the time. In Latvia, the recent reform named School 2030, which essence is a competence approach to the curriculum, is introducing its requirements. Additionally, the government has planned to introduce a system monitoring the quality of education by 2023. Consequently, questions like what a good school, teacher and teaching are gain certain attention. The particular qualitative approach research concentrates on finding out student teachers’ answers to these questions as core values they remember to be the most significant ones to make them think of their schools, teachers and their teaching as good. The aim of the research is to examine how student teachers of English who have begun their teacher education studies recently perceive good teaching. To provide answers, they filled out Personal Statement – an introductory part of the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages. The research sample of the case study consists of 55 second and fourth year full and part-time students who have decided to become teachers of English. They are studying at the faculty of Education, Psychology and Art, the University of Latvia. To analyse student teachers’ opinions, content analysis was used. The data allows concluding that student teachers’ perception of good teaching is characterised by three key elements: good classroom management techniques, relevant teaching methodology and teachers’ personalities. Furthermore, student teachers of English are of the opinion that in good teaching environment teachers take into account their pupils’ personalities. The same ideas prevail in the answers revealing what student teachers want to master in their studies. That implies student teachers of English long to see academic staff at the university as role models of good teaching.
... Thus, they may not consider such exceptional cases while evaluating their general practice. Gabrielatos (2002) emphasizes the importance of teachers' personalities and teaching skills in language teaching. He states that teachers need to be willing to help learners overcome the problems they face in the learning process. ...
... Because teachers may vary in the degree of willingness to help, students may have different perceptions of different teachers' practices. Gabrielatos (2002) uses a triangle to describe the factors that influence a language teacher's success in teaching. He states that teachers need to be knowledgeable in terms of methodology of language teaching, efficient users of the language in all skills, and also have personalities that help learners overcome the problems they face in the learning process. ...
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This study investigates the effect of teachers’ self-efficacy on personal teaching and external influences. The study involves 18 novice and 18 experienced English teachers teaching at Ilam high schools from March to September of 2014. Data were collected through a questionnaire. Teacher's questionnaire consisted of 36 Likert scale items. To analyze the data, t-tests were applied. When the two groups were compared, novice and experienced teachers were found to differ in their self-efficacy for classroom management, but not in their efficacy for personal teaching and external influences. In order to improve teachers’ efficacy for personal teaching and external influences in-service training programs and regular meetings where teachers share their experiences can be held.
... One another implication is that analyzing only self-efficacy of teachers' and decide on their readiness is not a fair practice. On condition that the aim is to have thorough investigation of teachers' readiness level, teachers' knowledge, usage of language skills, and personality should be exposed to the lens of microscopy (Gabrielatos, 2002). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The title of teachers’ readiness regarding handling the encountered problems in the immediate education environment brings the self-efficacy issue to the stage to be discussed: since, this issue has different outputs from novice and experienced teachers’ perspectives. In the present descriptive case study, teachers’ readiness for the 21st century classrooms in terms of self-efficacy was analysed, and the differences between novice and experienced teachers were examined. A self-report instrument – Likert scale type with 6 factor model- called as ‘Teachers’ Self-efficacy Questionnaire’ developed by Emmer and Hickman in 1999 was benefitted to collect the data from 30 English Language Teaching teachers in the prep department of a mid-size School of Foreign Languages at a State University located in the east part of Turkey. Independent samples t-test was used to analyse the data in order to see the whole picture regarding the comparison of novice and experienced teachers’ self-efficacy rate. It was seen that self-efficacy levels of teachers in both groups were too close to each other in the context of the study. So, it is possible to comment on the issue of balanced self-efficacy level of both novice and experienced teachers. Keywords: self-efficacy, teachers’ readiness, novice teacher, experienced tecahers
... Teachers' beliefs about students' language use greatly influence their decisions about classroom instruction and, ultimately, play a significant role in student literacy development (Gabrielatos, 2002) . Therefore, teachers' perceptions, prior beliefs, and knowledge will affect the way they approach teaching. ...
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This paper examines pre-service English teachers’ beliefs towards grammar studying at two Turkish Universities. A total of 90 pre-service English teachers, 57 of whom were studying at Muğla University and 33 of whom were studying at Onsekiz Mart University in Turkey, were involved in this study. The research participants completed two questionnaires. The aim of this paper is to look into pre-service English teachers’ beliefs towards grammar and its teaching as well as their knowledge on the metalanguage of grammar. The findings reveal that although a great majority of the participants favour the use of metalanguage in teaching grammar, and support the deductive grammar teaching practises, they themselves still have serious problems even with the most basic grammatical terminology. © 2012, Australian International Academic Centre PTY LTD. All rights reserved.
... Some speculations have been made concerning the relationship between teachers' methodology and attitude. To this end, Gabrielatos (2000) stated that teachers have different attitudes toward methodology selection ; they may combine any number of these attitudes in varying degrees .Some teachers use the course book and other published materials .Consequently , teachers need to adapt published materials according to the needs of particular classes .However , appropriate adaptation requires teachers; attitudes towards the teaching contexts, e.g., the course and the students . Teachers need to be conscious of their own methodological orientation, e.g., their theories and beliefs about the nature of language and teaching/learning (Woods, 1996). ...
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This paper investigates the relationship between EFL teachers, attitudes, teaching techniques and classroom type. To this end, 100 EFL teachers teaching in different contexts have been chosen, then a two-set questionnaire consisting of a five-point scale and Yes/No questions about large and small classes was distributed among them Also, a per-formed interview was done with twenty randomly selected teachers. Results indicate that teachers have different attitudes toward using and applying teaching techniques in different class sizes. The data analysis reveals that: 1) all the teachers tended to work and use more teaching techniques in small classes than large ones. 2) Comparing male and female teachers' attitudes showed that female teachers tended to use more teaching techniques in their teaching, processes than their counter parts. 3) Professional and nonprofessional teachers' attitudes were the same regarding using teaching techniques in both settings. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
... What an English language teacher has to know and how new English language teachers should acquire this knowledge are ongoing debates among researchers as well as practitioners. Gabrielatos (2002) suggested three main elements that comprise a language teacher's profile: personality, methodology (knowledge and skills), and language (knowledge and use). These three elements together form a triangle, and ideally all elements are developed equally or in a balance to form an equilateral triangle. ...
... ELT observers would be wise to treat observations as sample-collection procedures. A teacher's classroom practices are the composite of a multitude of elements relating to the teacher's knowledge, skills and personality (see Gabrielatos, 2002). Observations and observer-teacher discussions cannot offer clues to every single element contributing to the teacher's behaviour. ...
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Two problematic aspects of observation T he observation of lessons, a central aspect of teacher preparation and development, is a sensitive issue for both observers and observed, all the more so when the observations are carried out for the purpose of evaluation or assessment. Observing lessons in order to make any type of evaluative comment poses two interrelated problems. The one concerns the quantity and quality of insights an observed lesson affords into the normal classroom practices, and consequently the abilities and professionalism, of the observed teacher. The other concerns the psychological effects of the observation on teachers, and the attendant influence on their preparation for, and behaviour during, the lesson.
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