ArticlePDF Available

What Makes an Effective EFL Teacher From Saudi Preuniversity Students’ Perspective

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

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.
Content may be subject to copyright.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0022057420988702
Journal of Education
1 –9
© 2021 Trustees of Boston University
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/0022057420988702
journals.sagepub.com/home/jex
Original Research Report
Introduction
The emerging evolutions in learning and teaching
approaches such as learner autonomy and student-centered
learning amid information and technology-enhanced envi-
ronments have moved students to the top of the educational
pyramid. In this regard, as an important part of the success
and progress of foreign language learning, it is very neces-
sary to identify what types of attributes that students expect
in their English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers to
help them improve their language learning process. The
phenomenon of good attributes that EFL teachers should
possess has been attracting the researchers’ attention for the
last two decades. A very limited number of studies on the
aspect of “a good EFL teacher” has been conducted in the
Middle East region (Abu-Rahmah, 2008; Al-Mahrooqi
et al., 2015). The need for this study stems from the huge
diversity of EFL teachers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
There are many nationalities of EFL teachers working in
Saudi Arabia who can be classified under three categories:
nonnative speakers of English, near-native speakers of
English, and native speakers of English. Therefore, it is
important to identify the preuniversity students’ criteria that
they follow when selecting good EFL teachers, thus con-
tributing to their language learning success. This study is
also of a significance in helping teachers improve the quali-
ties valued by students.
Review of Literature
Good EFL Teacher: Definition and Qualities
Teachers being considered as a key figure to the success of
language learning process should be aware of the qualities
that interest and influence their students’ progress
(Al-Seghayer, 2017). Good language teachers are defined as
those who have a good command of language proficiency,
are able to think and reflect on the culture of the target lan-
guage, can vary their teaching methods, and have positive
relationships with students (Borg, 2006). An effective lan-
guage teacher should have a degree in English language, be
an enthusiast with the language, good critical thinking, self-
continuous improvement, self-subordination, cultural
988702JEXXXX10.1177/0022057420988702Journal of EducationAlzubi
research-article2021
1Najran University, Saudi Arabia
Corresponding Author:
Ali Abbas Falah Alzubi, Assistant Professor, Applied Linguistics,
Faculty of Languages, Najran University, P.O. 1988, Najran 55461,
Saudi Arabia.
Email: aliyarmouk2004@gmail.com
What Makes an Effective EFL Teacher From
Saudi Preuniversity Students’ Perspective
Ali Abbas Falah Alzubi1
Abstract
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.
Keywords
attributes, effective EFL teacher, perceptions, preuniversity students, Saudi Arabia
2 Journal of Education 00(0)
adaptability, professional citizenship, and work excitement
as argued by Allen (1980, as cited in Brown, 2007). More
specifically, students stressed the English language teacher’s
communicative skills through discussion and activities, use
of real examples to facilitate learning vocabulary and gram-
mar, abilities to interest and motivate and respect their per-
sonal differences, and abilities to write, read, speak, and
understand the target language (Febriyanti, 2018).
Research on effective EFL teachers has revealed a num-
ber of qualities that contribute to students’ language learn-
ing 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 qual-
ities into five main categories: cognitive knowledge, con-
tent 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 ele-
ments: 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. Gabrielatos added the word language to Edge’s
term, so it fits in the realm of language teaching (Person-
who-teaches-language). Table 1 displays the elements and
outlines the key aspects.
Effective EFL Teacher and Gender
The gender has been correlated with students’ and teachers’
choices of EFL teacher effectiveness and various findings
have been revealed. Some studies reported differences in
the choices of respondents attributed to genders (Abu-
Rahmah, 2008; Chen & Lin, 2009; Ramazani, 2014; Taqi
et al., 2015). However, some other studies showed that the
genders did not have any effect on the respondents’ choices
regarding the qualities of effective EFL teacher (Nghia,
2015; Wichadee, 2010).
Abu-Rahmah’s (2008) examination of 273 EFL male
and female teachers’ qualities of good EFL teachers in three
Arab countries (Oman, Egypt, & Saudi Arabia) using a
quantitative questionnaire revealed significant differences
attributed to genders in favor of female participants who
valued almost all the qualities of a good EFL teacher in
terms of personality, methodology, and language. Although
there was a census on the qualities of a good EFL teacher
among the respondents, the findings cannot be generalized
because no randomization was used in the selection of the
sample and no female students from Saudi Arabia partici-
pated. In addition, the findings would be more valid if the
researcher had also examined the students’ perceptions on
what makes effective EFL teacher as teachers might have
tended to value all good qualities. Similarly, Chen and Lin
(2009) revealed differences between 198 male and female
school students’ perceptions of effective EFL teachers in
Taiwan in favor of female students who valued the teacher
as a person, his or her relationships to students, motivation
of learners, and cultural awareness of the target language,
whereas male students considered respect and ethics of
teachers as more important. Moreover, 121 Iranian teachers
and 348 students’ views of effective language characteris-
tics in Urmia universities were examined using a self-report
questionnaire. The findings on genders revealed the female
students reported different characteristics from the male
students in socioaffective skills (Ramazani, 2014). Finally,
Taqi et al.’s (2015) study of 146 Kuwaiti female students
concluded that gender is one of the criteria that students
considered when choosing their English teachers.
On the contrary, Nghia (2015) examined the qualities of
Vietnamese English teachers from students’ perspective
through interviews and surveys. The results reported 12
effective qualities related to English competence, teaching
Table 1. Framework of Effective Language Teacher.
Elements Areas Key aspects
Personality Self-awareness, interpersonal skills, ability to observe, think critically, use experience,
sensitivity to context, attitude toward change, development, diversity, quality,
cooperation, authority, perception of learning, teacher/learner roles, development
Methodology Knowledge Views on methodology, available materials, own views on learning/teaching
Skills Seeing implications of theory, planning and teaching, balancing support and challenge,
action research
Language Knowledge Views on language, awareness of own views on language
Use Own language use, ability to see the implications of language analysis, draw
conclusions from own contact with language, sensitivity to learners’ language level
Alzubi 3
methods, and socioaffective skills. In addition, the gender
proved not to be significant for the perceptions of effective
EFL teaching. Likely, Wichadee (2010) who examined 400
Thai university students’ and 53 teachers’ views about
effective English teachers using a scale claimed that stu-
dents perceived organization and communication skills as
the most important quality. However, teachers perceived
English language proficiency as the most important quality.
The results also showed that gender of participants was not
significant in their views of effective language teachers.
Perceptions of a Good EFL Teacher
Interest in searching the qualities of effective EFL teachers
has been emerged to the surface since 1990s in relation to
different perspectives such as field of study, gender, learn-
ing context, and age. For example, Brosh (1996) examined
the teaching characteristics of the effective language
teacher contributing successful language learning (foreign
and mother) by 200 teachers and 406 pupils in Israel at 10
heterogeneous schools through a questionnaire and inter-
views about personal, pedagogical, and interactional quali-
ties. Findings revealed that the teacher’s knowledge and
command of the target language; ability to organize,
explain, and clarify as well as to arouse and sustain interest
and motivation; fairness; and availability to students were
the most highly stressed qualities that contribute to the
effectiveness of language teachers. In a study by Shishavan
and Sadeghi (2009), 215 EFL learners in both public and
tertiary education stressed the first language (Persian) as a
major quality of an effective English language teacher in
addition to other qualities that relate to the teacher’s per-
sonality and behavior. In another Iranian study, school stu-
dents put more emphasis on the EFL teacher’s interest in
his job, responsibility, encouragement to students, and use
of time and evaluation (Salahshour & Hajizadeh, 2013).
Baytur and Razi (2015) revealed that school students’ per-
ceptions of the characteristics of effective English lan-
guage teachers in Turkey focused on the teacher’s qualities
of being friendly, having accurate pronunciation, and effec-
tive classroom management skills. Al-Mahrooqi et al.
(2015) stressed the qualities of English language profi-
ciency and treating students equally as of high priority by
EFL Omani students and teachers, whereas knowledge
about the Western culture and the use of technology and
supplementary materials were not important. Finally,
Febriyanti (2018) showed that Indonesian EFL tertiary stu-
dents reported that EFL teachers must have ability to orga-
nize and communicate skillfully, pedagogical knowledge,
socioaffective skills, and English proficiency.
To conclude, the literature has reviewed the definitions
and qualities that EFL teachers should have, so they are
effective and can contribute successfully to language learn-
ing. Effectiveness of EFL teacher has been also reviewed in
relation to the factor of genders. 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:
1. What are the qualities of an effective EFL teacher
from the perspective of preuniversity learners in
Saudi Arabia?
2. Are there differences and similarities between
preuniversity male and female learners’ perceptions
of an effective EFL teacher?
Method
This study followed the mixed-methods research design in
which a close-ended questionnaire and open-ended ques-
tions were administered online to collect the necessary data
about what makes an effective EFL teacher. The closed
questionnaire targeted the quantitative data about the stu-
dents’ perceptions of the attributes of an effective EFL
teacher, whereas the open-ended questions were employed
to gain more in-depth qualitative explanations about other
qualities of an effective EFL teacher.
Sample of the Study
The population of the study were preuniversity male and
female students enrolled in the preparatory year program in
the first semester of the academic year 2019–2020 at a gov-
ernmental university in the southern region of Saudi
Arabia. In the preparatory year program, students study
English language skills, communication skills, computer
skills, and math skills for two semesters ahead of special-
ized science faculties. The total number of population is
680 male and 360 female students. Stratified random sam-
pling was used to choose the sample of the study based on
gender and level of study. Students at the Saudi universities
are segregated based on gender where female teachers
teach female students and male teachers teach male stu-
dents and level of study; the program of preuniversity is
two levels (1 and 2). After that, sample randomization was
applied to choose a representative sample from both male
and female sections. A total of 346 questionnaires were dis-
tributed to targeted students during English classes at the
same time to ensure that a student did not respond to the
questionnaire more than one time and 231 (135 male & 96
female) valid copies were collected. The participants in the
sample of the study share a number of common features
related to culture and nationality (Saudi), age (18–20 years
old), English background (8 years at school), and track at
high school (science stream).
4 Journal of Education 00(0)
Instruments
Two instruments were used in this study: close-ended and
open-ended questionnaires to collect data about what
makes an effective EFL teacher from the perspective of
preuniversity students. The close-ended questionnaire was
based on the theoretical framework by Gabrielatos (2002)
in which three main elements that make a language teacher
effective (personality, methodology, and language) are
included. The questionnaire composed of 35 items under
three main categories: personality (15 items), methodology
(12 items), and language (eight items). The items were
adapted from a study by Abu-Rahmah (2008). The partici-
pants’ responses were rated based on a 5-point Likert-type
scale: 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4
= agree, 5 = strongly agree.
The qualitative data were collected using an open-ended
questionnaire for more insightful and in-depth information
about students’ perceptions on what makes an effective EFL
teacher in relation to extra qualities (not mentioned in the
scale) that students may consider or wish to have in a good
EFL teacher. The open-ended questionnaire included six
questions adapted from Shishavan and Sadeghi (2009). They
addressed issues on the role of EFL teachers’ fame, age,
nationality, and culture. The collected data were analyzed
through two types of analysis: chi-square (cross tabulation)
for yes and no answers and Excel programing following the
steps of thematic analysis approach by Braun and Clarke
(2006). The data were classified under the questions, and stu-
dents were given coded. Then, the data were read and initial
codes were extracted and classified under the main themes,
and the final report was written supported with quotes.
Validity and reliability were checked through experts
and a pilot study. The survey was checked by four profes-
sors in the field of English language teaching and curri-
cula. The suggestions concerned issues about rewording
of some items that may not seem clear to respondents,
deletion of some items that are neither applicable to the
context like gender of teacher because female teachers
teach only female students and male teachers teach only
male students nor represent any of the three main catego-
ries, and addition of some items that are necessary to some
factors. After that, the survey was piloted to 34 students
other than those who participated in the main study. Using
Cronbach’s alpha, the internal consistency of the scale
scored .92 (see Table 2). Descriptive analysis was used to
analyze the quantitative data looking for means, standard
deviations, and correlation.
Results
Closed-Ended Questionnaire
Table A1 in the appendix reflects students’ responses on
what makes an effective EFL teacher from their points of
view with regard to three categories in terms of means, stan-
dard deviations, and percentages. As shown in Table A1,
88% of the students agree on the attributes that they
responded to and believe that they are very important for an
effective EFL teacher. This total agreement is also extended
to all three domains that make an effective EFL teacher. The
attributes of personality (M = 4.46, SD = 0.380) and lan-
guage knowledge (M = 4.44, SD = 0.532) scored 89%,
whereas methodology (M = 4.34, SD = 0.509) received
87%. In other words, students highly agreed on the person-
ality, methodology, and language knowledge attributes that
form his or her EFL teaching effectiveness.
Table A2 depicts students’ perceptions of the attributes of
personality knowledge of an effective EFL teacher. This
domain included 15 items. Table A2 shows that attributes of
personality scored first (M = 4.46, SD = 0.380), which
means that students highly valued the EFL teacher’s charac-
teristics related to his or her personality. That teachers should
be helpful (M = 4.69, SD = 0.590) and treat students justly
(M = 4.68, SD = 0.634) received the highest priority.
Having a moderate appearance did not touch students’ inter-
ests highly and came last (M = 3.66, SD = 1.112).
Table A3 displays students’ responses on the attributes of
language knowledge of effective EFL teacher. which is
composed of eight items. Language knowledge came sec-
ond (M = 4.44, SD = 0.532). Students highly stressed this
quality and almost all of the items received highly close
means. Language proficiency and culture awareness were
the most valued characteristics under this category (M =
4.57, SD = 0.626; M = 4.57, SD = 0.642, respectively).
Knowledge about the students’ social cultural background
and contribution to curriculum development were the least
received priority (M = 4.25, SD = 0.976; M = 4.28, SD =
0.918) in order. If of any indication, this means that students
cared a lot about what affects their language proficiency
and achievement.
In Table A4, students’ perceptions on effective EFL
teachers’ methodology knowledge are displayed. This
domain had 12 items and came last. The category of method-
ology knowledge scored the lowest means (M = 4.34, SD =
0.509). This does not mean that students did not value the
qualities of teaching methods. On the contrary, almost all the
items scored high as shown in the means column. The use of
different methods of teaching and execution of appropriate
lessons had the highest means (M = 4.49, SD = 0.851; M =
4.50, SD = 0.741) in order. Using supplementary materials
Table 2. Internal Consistency of Closed-Item Questionnaire.
Domain NItems Cronbach’s α
Personality 34 15 .83
Methodology 34 12 .84
Language 34 8 .85
Overall 34 35 .92
Alzubi 5
was of interest for students but had the lowest means in this
category (M = 3.97, SD = 1.034). Students’ less preference
of EFL teachers’ knowledge about teaching methods over
personality and language aspects may be connected to their
direct reflection on their personality and language learning
and less experience in being able to evaluate the EFL teach-
ers’ use of teaching methods.
Students’ perceptions on the attributes of effective EFL
teacher were computed based on gender (male and female)
using independent samples test as shown in Table A5. Table
A5 shows that there are no any statistically significant dif-
ferences between the male and female students’ perceptions
on what makes an effective EFL teacher on the whole (M =
4.41, SD = 0.410; M = 4.42, SD = 4.42, respectively),
t(227) = −.287, p = .774. The three categories also did not
have any significance based on the genders of students. This
means that male and female students share the views on the
attributes that make an effective EFL teacher.
Open-Ended Questionnaire
The open-ended questionnaire targeted students’ percep-
tions on other attributes not mentioned in the closed ques-
tionnaires. Students were asked about their choice of EFL
teacher, fame, age, country, and cultural awareness in rela-
tion to his or her EFL teaching effectiveness. Table A6
depicts the students’ yes and no answers to the questions in
terms of frequencies, percentages, and significances.
As shown in Table A6, 57% of the students agreed that
they are given the choice to choose their EFL teacher during
the period of deletion and addition of sections and courses
at the beginning of the semester. About 57.5% of the stu-
dents stressed the fame as one of the attributes that contrib-
utes to his or her teaching effectiveness. However, age,
country, and cultural awareness of the teacher did not have
any effect on his or her teaching effectiveness of language
(72%, 58%, and 52%, respectively).
The content analysis of the data collected through open-
ended questionnaire has revealed rich results about factors
not mentioned in the closed questionnaires. Four main fac-
tors were questioned in this part: fame, age, country, and
culture of EFL teacher in relation to his or her language
teaching effectiveness. Students agreed that the fame of
effective EFL teacher is a very important variable that con-
tributes to his or her language teaching positively for many
reasons in connection with the themes of experience, per-
sonal traits, teaching methods, and proficiency. To provide
some excerpts, a student (MS-175) wrote, “Fame means
that teacher has a good experience.” Another student (MS-
125) argued, “From the ex-students who were taught by the
good fame teacher and for his sense of humor.” Regarding
teaching methods, a student (MS-124) provided, “because
of his style in teaching” and another student (FS-164) said,
“because famous teacher can deliver information quickly.”
EFL teachers are famous for their proficiency as shown in
the students’ answers like what FS-214 wrote that fame
means: “it reflects his proficiency that helps me improves
my language and skills.”
Age has been valued by most students as one of the
important factors of an effective EFL teacher. However,
28% stressed the factor of age and associated it with a num-
ber of issues. The students’ justifications have revolved
around six themes: understanding, communication, experi-
ence, mental functioning, personal traits, and thought differ-
ences. To cite some of the students’ words, a student (MS-15)
emphasized that the more the teacher is close to their ages,
the more they understand as clear in the following excerpt:
“yes, it does, because when he is young, he will be close to
the students’ understanding.” Age may affect the teacher’s
information communication to the students that he or she
may lose desire and motivation to teach as provided by stu-
dent FS-160: “yes, it has an effect on students as teachers
may lose desire and motivation to communicate knowledge
and information to students.” Age can increase the teacher’s
teaching experience and assist in the students’ better under-
standing and learning. A student (SF-216) argued, “when
teacher is older this means that he will have various teaching
experiences and skills which reflect positively on students.”
However, old teachers may be influenced by some mental
problems such as forgetting information and inaccuracy. A
student (MS-14) explained, “yes, because he may forget
information and may not be accurate which will decrease his
efforts and abilities to teach.” Age has been linked with the
teacher’s personal traits such as activeness, appreciation,
patience, respect, and sense of humor. A student (MS-132)
added, “yes, young teacher is more active and is not tired
from explanation and reexplanation to students.” Another
student (MS-135) said, “old teachers are more understand-
ing and patient.” Finally, age has been associated with differ-
ences in teachers’ thoughts due to different generations,
ideas, and texts. To cite some of the students’ replies, a stu-
dent (FS-226) added, “yes, if he was old, this may lead to
some difficulties understanding the new generation due to
different ideas and thoughts.”
The relationship between country and attributes of effec-
tive EFL teacher has indicated that 58% of the respondents
provided that there was no connection, whereas 42% pro-
vided positive relationship as country of the language
teacher may influence his or her comprehension, accent,
culture, diversity, and communication. Country may have
an effect on the students’ comprehension in terms of better
explanation of difficult points as students provided. One
student (MS-81) argued, “yes, so he is able to explain
unclear ideas to the students.” The term accent has been
repeated a lot by the respondents in connection with country
of EFL teacher. Students explained that the country of EFL
teacher would affect his or her accent of English language.
A student (MS-105) provided, “yes, it does because English
language has many dialects which differ from one country
to another.” Country has also been associated with diversity
6 Journal of Education 00(0)
and culture as clear in one of the students’ answers (FS-
153): “Diversity is beautiful.” “Yes, the differences of cul-
tures and discourse style” (MS-44). Finally, some students
attributed the influence of the EFL teacher’s country to his
or her communication skills as clear in this student’s words
(FS-160): “Yes, because he may have difficulty communi-
cating information.” More evidence is shown in the stu-
dent’s excerpt (FS-200): “Yes, if the teacher was from an
Arab country, he will explain better and I will be able com-
municate with him in case of any difficulties.”
Finally, 42% of the students reported that the cultural
awareness of EFL teacher affects his effectiveness. They
justified the effect of cultural awareness on the effective-
ness of EFL teacher by a number of issues related to teach-
ing methods, personality, students’ improvement, and
knowledge. Regarding teaching methods of the effective
EFL teacher who is aware of his or her culture and the target
language culture, students provided reasons for the connec-
tion between culture and teaching methods that revolved
around the provision of more examples, various styles of
teaching, lesson explanation, and better delivery of ideas.
To cite some excerpts, a student (MS-101) said, “Yes,
because this will help him provide more examples under-
stand better.” Another student (FS-201) argued, “Yes,
because he will know how to deliver information by more
than one way.” Culture may affect the EFL teacher’s per-
sonality in terms of wisdom, behavior, creativity, coopera-
tion, and appreciation. A student (MS-4) answered, “yes,
because it related to the teacher’s wisdom and behavior.”
Another student (MS-99) added, “if he knows the culture,
he will be more creative.” Students linked the EFL teacher’s
cultural awareness to their language improvement in terms
of enrichment, comprehension, ways of thinking, and profi-
ciency. A student (MS-55) replied, “yes, because it will
enrich the students’ information.” Another student (MS-
127) wrote, “yes, because culture assists in comprehending
students’ thoughts.” Finally, increasing the knowledge of
teachers and students has been attributed to the teachers’
cultural awareness. One student (MS-15) argued, “the more
his culture is, the more his knowledge will be.” “Yes, there
may be new vocabulary and meaning for me” (FS-199).
The findings of open-ended questions have mainly
emphasized and confirmed the students’ responses on the
items in the closed questionnaire. That to say, students have
linked the variables of EFL teacher’s choice, fame, age,
country, and culture to the main constructs of effective EFL
teacher: personality, methodology, and language knowledge,
in addition to other qualities such as students’ improvement,
diversity, knowledge increase, and communication.
Findings and Discussion
This study aimed at examining preuniversity students’ views
on the attributes of effective EFL teachers. Three main find-
ings have been revealed. Students highly agreed
on the personality, methodology, and language knowledge
attributes that form his or her EFL teaching effectiveness, in
addition to his or her cultural awareness of the language. The
variables of fame, age, and country of EFL teachers did not
reveal any connection to their teaching effectiveness. The
study has also revealed that there were no any statistically
significant differences between the male and female stu-
dents’ perceptions on what makes an effective EFL teacher.
The findings of this study confirm the previous literature
having stressed the characteristics that EFL teachers should
have, so they are effective teachers, which, in turn, reflect
on the learners’ language learning level. About 88% of the
students agreed that the attributes of personality, methodol-
ogy, and language knowledge are very important for an
effective EFL teacher. This finding is supported by previous
literature such as Abu-Rahmah (2008), Al-Mahrooqi et al.
(2015), Park and Lee (2006), and Brosh (1996). Students
having emphasized the EFL teachers’ attributes of personal-
ity, methodology and knowledge means that they are of
importance to them and contribute to their language learn-
ing improvement. Al-Seghayer (2017) argued that the quali-
ties of effective EFL teachers have impacts on the successful
teaching English and assist teachers in solving problems
that learners encounter in their language learning process.
The study has also revealed that there were no any statis-
tically significant differences between the male and female
students’ perceptions on what makes an effective EFL
teacher which means that male and female students share
similar views on the attributes that make an effective EFL
teacher. This finding is in line with Nghia (2015) and
Wichadee (2010) who reported no significance in the male
and female students’ responses on the effective qualities of
EFL teachers attributed to the participants’ genders.
Unlikely, this finding does not match with the studies by
Abu-Rahmah (2008), Chen and Lin (2009), Shishavan and
Sadeghi (2009), and Ramazani (2014) who reported statisti-
cal significance in the qualities of EFL teachers based on
genders in favor of female students. Shishavan and Sadeghi
(2009) reported that the genders of participants yielded dif-
ferent views on the EFL teachers’ efficacy. Most male par-
ticipants favored female teachers as they are more effective,
whereas female students liked male teachers as being
stricter and having better control of the class.
Conclusion
This study has shined a light on the EFL preuniversity male
and female students’ perceptions on what makes an effec-
tive EFL teacher. Students’ high emphasis on the attributes
of effective EFL teachers of personality, teaching methods,
and language knowledge is because these attributes contrib-
ute to their improvements in the aspects of personal traits,
language improvement, communication, cultural aware-
ness, and better understanding. The study implicates that
students value their EFL teacher bases on views related to
Alzubi 7
his or her qualities of personality, teaching methods, and/or
language knowledge. Therefore, it is recommended that
stakeholders take into consideration their students’ favorite
attributes of EFL teachers, which assist in improving their
language learning improvement and personality, especially
in educational institutions in the Gulf countries where many
sections of the same course are connected to many multina-
tional teachers and students can choose their favorite.
Stakeholders need to maximize their students’ perceptions
on their EFL teachers and conduct training programs that
help teachers improve the effective teaching qualities that
students appreciate. The study findings are only generalized
on the preuniversity students where it took place. Further
research on correlating students’ and teachers’ perceptions
on the effective qualities of EFL teacher to assist in elevat-
ing the quality of language learning and teaching processes
and reach the targeted learning outcomes is encouraged.
Future studies may examine the effects of information and
communication technology on EFL teachers’ effectiveness
as more and more online classes are being delivered.
Table A1. Students’ Perceptions on the Attributes of Effective EFL Teacher.
Attributes of effective EFL teacher N M SD %
Personality 229 4.46 0.380 89
Language 229 4.44 0.532 89
Methodology 229 4.34 0.509 87
Overall 229 4.42 0.391 88
Note. EFL = English as a Foreign Language.
Appendix
Table A2. Students’ Perceptions on Personality Knowledge.
Domain N M SD
Personality 229 4.46 0.380
Be tolerant with students 229 4.53 0.704
Be enthusiastic about teaching 229 4.57 0.720
Be patient with students 228 4.67 0.566
Have a good sense of humor 229 4.22 0.830
Be helpful 229 4.69 0.590
Be kind 229 4.65 0.622
Care about all students 229 4.59 0.679
Treat students justly 229 4.68 0.634
Have positive attitudes toward students 229 4.58 0.687
Have a moderate appearance 229 3.66 1.112
Be punctual for academic commitments 229 4.03 0.977
Be confident 229 4.47 0.717
Be cooperative 229 4.66 0.634
Motivate learners 229 4.65 0.733
Establish good rapport with students 229 4.28 0.923
Table A3. Students’ Perceptions on Language Knowledge.
Domain N M SD
Language 229 4.44 0.532
Have a high level of English proficiency 229 4.59 0.626
Be aware of English language culture 229 4.57 0.642
Know about the social and cultural background of students 229 4.25 0.976
Know how to evaluate students 229 4.46 0.763
Be aware of current trends in English teaching 229 4.49 0.717
Know how to specify teaching 229 4.54 0.728
Be able to contribute to curriculum development 229 4.28 0.918
Have perception of professional development 229 4.35 0.853
8 Journal of Education 00(0)
Table A4. Students’ Perceptions on Methodology Knowledge.
Domain N M SD
Methodology 229 4.34 0.509
Use different methods of teaching to meetall students’ needs 229 4.49 0.851
Exploit language inputs to match learners’ interests 229 4.42 0.842
Have classroom management skills 229 4.42 0.760
Have organizational skills 229 4.40 0.769
Make the best use of available resources 229 4.41 0.782
Execute appropriate lessons 229 4.50 0.741
Use technology in education 229 4.10 0.995
Give students feedback 229 4.33 0.909
Use suitable supplementary materials for students 229 3.97 1.034
Be able to reflect upon his or her teaching 229 4.43 0.761
Have the skills to develop autonomy in learners 229 4.47 0.797
Be able to solve practical problems through action research 229 4.19 0.881
Table A5. Attributes of Effective EFL Teacher Based on Gender.
Domain Gender N M SD t df Sig. (two-tailed) Mdifference
Personality Male 133 4.45 0.393 −.257 227 .797 −.013
Female 96 4.47 0.363
Methodology Male 133 4.35 0.516 .116 227 .908 .008
Female 96 4.34 0.503
Language Male 133 4.42 0.557 −.749 227 .454 −.053
Female 96 4.47 0.498
Overall Male 133 4.41 0.410 −.287 227 .774 −.015
Female 96 4.42 0.366
Note. EFL = English as a Foreign Language.
Table A6. Students’ Responses on Open-Ended Questions.
Question Gender NNo Yes Exact sig. (one-sided)
Choice of teacher Male 121 40 81 .000
Female 91 52 39
Total 212 92 120
% 43 57
Fame of teacher Male 126 54 72 .892
Female 93 39 54
Total 219 93 126
% 42.5 57.5
Age of teacher Male 126 92 34 .627
Female 90 63 27
Total 216 155 61
% 72 28
Country of teacher Male 126 75 51 .546
Female 92 51 41
Total 218 126 92
% 58 42
Cultural awareness of teacher Male 120 76 44 .000
Female 91 33 58
Total 211 109 102
% 52 48
Alzubi 9
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with
respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this
article.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
ORCID iD
Ali Abbas Falah Alzubi https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6252-9522
References
Abu-Rahmah, M. I. (2008). Qualities of the good language teacher
as perceived by prospective teachers of English in the Arab
world. Journal of Educational and Psychological Studies,
2(1), 98–144.
Al-Mahrooqi, R., Denman, C., Al-Siyabi, J., & Al-Maamari, F.
(2015). Characteristics of a good EFL teacher: Omani EFL
teacher and student perspectives. SAGE Open, 5(2), 1–15.
https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244015584782
Al-Seghayer, K. (2017). The central characteristics of success-
ful ESL/EFL teachers. Journal of Language Teaching and
Research, 8(5), 881–890.
Baytur, B., & Razi, S. (2015). Characteristics of effective EFL
teachers from the perspective of Turkish EFL learners. The
International Journal of Human and Behavioral Science,
1(2), 1–9.
Borg, S. (2006). The distinctive characteristics of foreign lan-
guage teachers. Language Teaching Research, 10(1), 3–31.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psy-
chology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.
Brosh, H. (1996). Perceived characteristics of the effective lan-
guage teacher. Foreign Language Annals, 29(2), 125–136.
Brown, H. D. (2007). Teaching by principles: An interactive
approach to language pedagogy. Pearson Education.
Chen, Y.-J., & Lin, S.-C. (2009). Exploring characteristics for
effective EFL teachers from the perceptions of junior high
school students in Tainan. STUT Journal of Humanities and
Social Sciences, 2, 219–249.
Febriyanti, E. R. (2018). Investigating English department stu-
dents’ perceptions about a good English language teacher.
International Journal of Language Education, 2(2),
83–95.
Gabrielatos, C. (2002, March 23–27). The shape of the language
teacher [Paper presentation]. 36th Annual International
Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language
Conference, York, England.
Nghia, T. L. H. (2015). Vietnamese students’ perception of English
teacher qualities: Implications for teacher professional devel-
opment. International Journal of Academic Research in
Education and Review, 3(1), 7–19.
Park, G. P., & Lee, H. W. (2006). The characteristics of effec-
tive English teachers as perceived by high school teachers
and students in Korea. Asia Pacific Education Review, 7(2),
236–248.
Ramazani, M. (2014). Mismatches in beliefs between teachers and
students, and characteristics of effective English teacher: An
Iranian context. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences,
98, 1518–1527.
Salahshour, N., & Hajizadeh, N. (2013). Characteristics of
effective EFL instructors. Procedia-Social and Behavioral
Sciences, 70, 163–173.
Shishavan, H. B., & Sadeghi, K. (2009). Characteristics of an
effective English language teacher as perceived by Iranian
teachers and learners of English. English Language Teaching,
2(4), 130–143.
Taqi, H. A., Al-Darwish, S. H., Akbar, R. S., & Al-Gharabali,
N. A. (2015). Choosing an English teacher: The influence of
gender on the students’ choice of language teachers. English
Language Teaching, 8(12), 182–190.
Wichadee, S. (2010). Defining the effective English language
teacher: Students’ and teachers’ perspectives. In A. M. Stoke
(Ed.), JALT2009 conference proceedings (pp. 27–35). JALT.
... Some Thai students preferred a Thai teacher as the students would be more relaxed and understand easier, while others preferred the authenticity and proficiency improvement that a native speaker brings, preferably one that could speak Thai, with some claiming that they did not want to study with a teacher who could not speak Thai (Chen, 2012). This agrees with Saudi students who stated that if they had an Arab teacher, they would be able to understand them easier when they were having trouble (Alzubi, 2021). However, it contrasts with the views of some teachers, who claimed that it was not important to be able to speak the student's native language (Meksophawannagul, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the characteristics of effective English language teachers in the Thai cultural context. A survey comprising 68 Likert-scale items was administered to students (n = 124) and teachers (n = 11) in the intensive English program (IEP) of a Thai university. The survey measured the participants’ perception of the characteristics of effective teachers in seven areas: general characteristics, affective variables, knowledge about students, pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge, knowledge about classroom management, and professional development. A comparison of the responses showed a statistically significant difference between the median responses of teachers and students in three areas: affective variables, knowledge of students, and professional development. In all three areas, students ascribed a higher level of importance. These findings have implications for teachers, who may underestimate the value that their students place on the personal and affective aspects of education and on professional development.
Article
Full-text available
Teaching is a lifelong learning process and even if a teacher may have years of experience in teaching English as a foreign language, one might not know whether he/she has become a good teacher or not. The perceptions about a “good” English language teacher have been varied among the language learners and the teachers themselves. However, it is important to find out what kind of a “good” English language teacher based on learners’ perceptions in order to discover what they believe and what they expect from their English teachers when they are learning the language. This present study aims at investigating and describing the qualities or the characteristics of a good English teacher based on the learners perceptions. The population for this study are the students of English Department of FKIP Lambung Mangkurat University Banjarmasin in three batches (batch 2015, 2016, and 2017), and when the time data collected they were at the sixth, the fourth and the second semester. The questionnaire given is in the form of close-ended questions and analysed quantitatively. The findings of this study are expected to help teachers to reflect or evaluate themselves and refresh their teaching practice when necessary, as well as for their own improvement and further professional development.
Article
Full-text available
This mixed-method study sought to identify the qualities of English teachers that Vietnamese students perceived to enhance their English learning in the informal education sector. Interviews and surveys were used to collect qualitative and quantitative data from English learners at nine cities in the South of Vietnam. Students reported 12 qualities perceived as significant factors that influenced their learning. English competence, teaching methods and socio-affective skills were perceived to be the most important teacher qualities by all students. In addition, teachers’ knowledge of cultures of English speaking countries and of Vietnam and the ability to apply information technology into teaching were recognized to affect students’ learning, although they were not rated as highly as the other qualities. The study also found that students appeared to demand teachers to conduct their teaching and behave professionally in the class probably because in the informal education sector they were aware of their role as customers, not solely students. Therefore, it is recommended that English teachers in the informal education sector need to continuously improve their qualities and adapt to students’ various learning needs to facilitate their students-as-customers’ learning.
Article
Full-text available
Achieving optimal success in teaching English as a second language (ESL) or English as a foreign language (EFL) requires teachers to demonstrate varying essential characteristics that consist of several underlying and interacting constructs. The purpose of this article is to orient the reader and succinctly identify the key variables that lead ESL/EFL teachers to distinctive success. It clearly delineates the characteristics of successful ESL/EFL teachers embedded within five central dimensions, along with their underlying structures. It also provides common taxonomies of successful EFL teachers’ attributes without burdening the reader with unnecessary detail concerning the many other validated attributes associated with ESL/EFL teachers’ salient attributions of success. To this end, this discussion contributes to a theoretical understanding of the development of successful ESL/EFL teachers and to improved knowledge of the key characteristics of successful ESL/EFL teachers.
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to identify the qualities of the good language teacher as perceived by student teachers of English in the Arab World. In Fall 2006, a questionnaire including 69 qualities of the good language teacher representing three dimensions (knowledge, teaching skills and personality) was developed, validated and administered to 273 prospective teachers of English in three countries of the Arab world (Egypt, Oman and Saudi Arabia). ANOVA test results indicated that there were statistically significant differences between the three groups as to the perception of theses qualities. There were statistically significant differences in the perception of the qualities between the male subjects and the female subjects in favour of females. It was concluded that (1) both the Saudi and Egyptian prospective teachers of English have similar views for the knowledge, and personality dimensions, whereas they have different views as to the teaching skills dimension, (2) both the Saudi students and the Omani students have different iiviews as to the qualities of the good language teacher, whereas the Egyptian students and the Omani students have the same views, and (3) the views of the female students as to the qualities of the good language teacher are different from the views of the male students. Accordingly, it was i recommended that two further studies are needed: (1) a l study to identify the qualities of the good language teacher using a large sample from different universities of the Arab World, and (2) an ethnographic study to investigate qualitatively and thoroughly what makes a good language teacher.
Article
Full-text available
Gender and teaching are gaining increasing attention in the field of higher education. The significance of teacher gender seems even more crucial in an environment based on gender segregation. In the scope of language teaching and gender, this study investigates the influence of gender on the students’ selection of teachers in general, and language teachers more specifically. The participants, 146 English major students in an all-female college of education, were given a questionnaire of 32 statements--to be answered on a 5-point likert scale--and four open-ended questions; all of which aim at examining the difference between male and female English language teachers in terms of attitude, grades, teaching and even appearance. The statistics were analyzed in terms of frequency, mean and variance in correlation with the independent variables of age, social status, GPA and years in college. It was found that most students prefer male teachers as they believe that the positive personal traits of the male teachers far exceed those of the female teachers. Nonetheless, the statistics have revealed that both genders (and sometimes female more than male teachers) are good language teachers. Hence, reflecting the main finding: gender is not a criterion for good language teaching, but it is our students’ criterion for choosing a language teacher.
Article
Full-text available
Researchers have long been interested in the characteristics associated with “good” teaching. However, most relevant studies have been conducted in Western contexts. As cultural background has a strong influence on the way good teaching is perceived, it was considered important to explore this issue in the Arab Gulf. The current study sought to compare Omani school students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the characteristics of good English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers in the Omani context. To achieve this, 171 Omani students and 233 English teachers responded to a seven-category, 68-item questionnaire utilizing a 4-point Likert-type response key. Descriptive statistics and t tests were used to determine perceptions of good teacher characteristics and differences between students’ and teachers’ responses. Results indicate that Omani students and teachers generally agree about the importance of all characteristic categories, with those related to English language proficiency and treating students equally being of special importance. Participants also agreed that knowledge of Western culture/s and the use of technology were relatively unimportant. Implications of these findings for EFL teaching in Oman are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
This study examines the characteristics of effective English teacher from the view of 121 teachers and 348 students in Urmia universities, Iran. Data were gathered with a self-report questionnaire comprised of three sections: English proficiency, pedagogical knowledge, and socio-affective skills. The results revealed that there is a great mismatch with teachers’ and students’ perceptions. While teachers ranked English proficiency as the highest, students perceived pedagogical knowledge as a significant characteristic of an effective teacher. The characteristics reported by high achieving students and low achieving students were different in terms of pedagogical knowledge and socio-affective skills, while the female students demonstrated different characteristics from the male students in socio-affective skills. There were also disparities in student subgroups regarding effective teaching. The findings have implications to remediate pre-service and in-service training of teachers.
Article
The purpose of this study was to identify the qualities of the good language teacher as perceived by student teachers of English in the Arab World. In Fall 2006, a questionnaire including 69 qualities of the good language teacher representing three dimensions (knowledge, teaching skills and personality) was developed, validated and administered to 273 prospective teachers of English in three countries of the Arab world (Egypt, Oman and Saudi Arabia). ANOVA test results indicated that there were statistically significant differences between the three groups as to the perception of theses qualities. There were statistically significant differences in the perception of the qualities between the male subjects and the female subjects in favour of females. It was concluded that (1) both the Saudi and Egyptian prospective teachers of English have similar views for the knowledge, and personality dimensions, whereas they have different views as to the teaching skills dimension, (2) both the Saudi students and the Omani students have different iiviews as to the qualities of the good language teacher, whereas the Egyptian students and the Omani students have the same views, and (3) the views of the female students as to the qualities of the good language teacher are different from the views of the male students. Accordingly, it was i recommended that two further studies are needed: (1) a l study to identify the qualities of the good language teacher using a large sample from different universities of the Arab World, and (2) an ethnographic study to investigate qualitatively and thoroughly what makes a good language teacher.