Achieving quality and accountability in English teaching

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This qualitative study investigates the qualities of the professional ELT TE and what implications such qualities have for achieving accountable and quality Second Language Teacher Education (SLTE).
1. Cogent Education
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Qualities of the professional English language
teacher educator: Implications for achieving
quality and accountability
Ali S.M. Al-Issa |
To cite this article: Ali S.M. Al-Issa | (2017) Qualities of the professional English language teacher
educator: Implications for achieving quality and accountability, Cogent Education, 4:1, 1326652,
DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2017.1326652
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2. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
Qualities of the professional English language
teacher educator: Implications for achieving quality
and accountability
Received: 15 January 2017 Ali S.M. Al-Issa1*
Accepted: 02 May 2017
Published: 01 June 2017 Abstract: There is a growing body of literature about the qualities of professional
*Corresponding author: Ali S.M. Al- teacher educators (TEs) and their impact on preparing professional teachers.
Issa, Department of Curriculum and
Instruction, College of Education, Sultan
However, English Language Teaching (ELT) research has fallen behind in this regard,
Qaboos University, P.O. Box 3058, Ruwi despite the fact that different programs worldwide suffer from different limitations,
112, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
due to certain aspects related to TEs’ qualities. This qualitative study investigates
the qualities of the professional ELT TE and what implications such qualities have
Reviewing editor:
Marion Engin, Sheffield Hallam for achieving accountable and quality Second Language Teacher Education (SLTE).
University, UK A form comprising a set of closed and open ended questions was distributed to 63
Additional information is available at participants representing 23 countries. Findings and discussion have revealed that
the end of the article
the professional ELT TEs are empowering educators and holders of strong disciplin-
ary knowledge who pursue achieving social justice ELT education. The findings can
be considered a milestone and have important implications for preparing profes-
sional English language teachers and achieving quality and accountability in SLTE.
Ali S.M. Al-Issa has a PhD in Education (TESOL) English language teacher educators (TEs) have
from University of Queensland in Australia and a a significant role to play in affecting the quality
Master of Arts in Education in TESOL from Institute and accountability of rapidly spreading and
of Education, University of London. evolving English language education teachers
Al-Issa, PhD, has extensive experience in at schools provide to millions of children around
different areas of TESOL. He is currently an the world. Based upon data collected from 63
associate professor of TESOL at the Department of ELT professionals representing 23 nationalities,
Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, this study discusses the qualities teaching TEs
Sultan Qaboos University, Sultanate of Oman. should have for preparing good and effective
Al-Issa, PhD, has presented and published English language teachers and the implications
widely about teaching English in Oman. He is such qualities have for achieving quality and
a recipient of several local and international accountable ELT education at schools. It was
teaching and research awards and recognitions. found that TEs are required to have strong
Al-Issa is currently the most widely cited Omani knowledge about the English language, teaching
TESOL researcher. His research interests include, methods, and approaches and ways of developing
but are not limited to, foreign/s language professionally. Clearly these qualities can reflect
education policy and planning and teacher positively on prospective teachers’ beliefs,
training and education. knowledge, and practices as social justice ELT
education practitioners, who can influence change
in the culturally, economically, and politically
oriented globalization era. Understanding such
qualities can help improve teacher education
and training worldwide and assist in designing
academic programs that serve graduating better
prepared teachers.
© 2017 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution
(CC-BY) 4.0 license.
Page 1 of 17
3. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
Subjects: Social Sciences; Education; Humanities; Language & Literature
Keywords: professional; qualities; social justice education; English language teaching;
teacher educators; student teachers
1. English and English language teaching today
English has become a global lingua franca or a hyper-central language in an ever shrinking world
witnessing cultural fusion (Al-Issa, 2016). It has taken on new roles locally and globally (Al-Issa,
2016). People around the world learn it for different purposes (Al-Issa, 2016). It is taught and learnt
worldwide by millions of teachers and students, respectively (Al-Issa, 2016). According to Al-Issa
(2017), students today bring all kinds of backgrounds, needs, interests, abilities, and expectations to
the English Language Teaching (ELT) classroom. Along with this evolution came a shift in paradigms
and beliefs gathering momentum about the multiple theories, approaches, methods, and method-
ologies that govern an expanding field like ELT (Al-Issa, 2016).
Like English, ELT too, and through the incorporation of “informationalism” (Warschauer, 2000),
else known as the “new global” or “post-industrial economic order”, has given rise to the challenging
and demanding Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach, which through using
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) specially in developing and newly industrialized
countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, emphasizes functional interaction and assists students
to develop critical literacy and critical inquiry to impose their voices on the world through using
English as a discourse for integration and empowerment. This has important implications for the
decisions practicing ELT in different parts of the world make. It further has important implications for
the knowledge held and roles played by Teacher Educators (TEs), who in the age of globalization, and
according to Warschauer, “spend much of their time analyzing symbol-based (numerical and tex-
tual) information” (p. 517) to help “societies compete in the international economy” (p. 517) where
a mastery of “highly advanced communication skills in English” (p. 519), was achieved through
adopting approaches like English for Specific Purposes (ESP) in general and English for Occupational
Purposes (EOP) in particular to assist learners “to compete for the better jobs in society” (p. 519).
2. ELT TEs at present
TEs have been striving throughout the world to encourage and facilitate their Student Teachers’
(STs) learning “implicitly” and “explicitly” (Boei et al., 2015) through designing and implementing
courses and programs and attempting to commit to blending teaching and research in their classes
that can help empower their STs and hence prepare them as professional practitioners and informed
reform agents in a complex world governed by cultural, economic, political, and social competing
agendas shaping educational policies and practices (Apple, 2011). In fact, “the TE stands at the
centre of the process of building the profession” (Shagrir, 2010, p. 46) and the work of TEs “… greatly
influences the quality of teachers” (Vloet & van Swet, 2010, p. 149). Professional teachers are re-
quired to continue learning to cope with the ever evolving, challenging, and demanding world of ELT.
Professionally prepared teachers are thus central to student success. According to Maley (1992),
teachers are always expected and demanded to be committed professionals through “conscientious
workmanship” and “application of skilful work to a high standard of performance” (p. 96). This is
particularly the case as students today bring all kinds of backgrounds, needs, interests, abilities, and
expectations to the ELT classroom (Al-Issa, 2017). Goodwin et al. (2014) established a relationship
between students’ learning and the quality of their teachers and consider teachers as the most im-
portant factor in student achievement. Goodwin et al. (2014) stressed that “commonsense reason-
ing tells us that quality teacher education relies on quality TEs” (p. 284).
However, different aspects of the different ELT teacher education and training programs around
the world have been reported as failing to support STs’ learning (Al-Darwish, 2006; Al-Issa, 2005,
2010; Coskun & Daloglu, 2010; Jones & Jones, 2013; Kömür, 2010; Kourieos, 2012; Muthanna, 2011;
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4. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
Ochieng’ Ong’ondo & Borg, 2011; Oder, 2014). Conclusions were reached by different authors (Al-
Issa, & Al-Bulushi, 2010; Kourieos, 2012) regarding TEs’ lack of engagement in academic profes-
sional development, which has negatively affected their pedagogical and interpersonal competence
and reflected badly on preparing effective and competent teachers with the necessary skills and
knowledge to influence change.
Richards (2008) thus raises questions about the need for quality and accountability in Second
Language Teacher Education (SLTE) in the value-laden politically, economically, and culturally driv-
en age of globalization, which has its direct and indirect effect on the practitioners’ hidden curricu-
lum and policies and practices. Richards views accountability as complex and looks at it from three
different perspectives. First, the standards of SLTE programs, which involve the what and how knowl-
edge the English teacher should have. Second, the impact of SLTE programs on STs’ beliefs, under-
standings, knowledge, and practices. Third, the evaluation of SLTE programs with respect to the
short and long-term impact they can have on the STs’ professional development. The role of the
professional TEs is obviously highly critical in all three aspects.
3. What makes a professional TE?
A review of the non-ELT literature revealed that the professional TEs are those who possess strong
disciplinary knowledge, as in pedagogical content knowledge and academic reflective practice
knowledge (Goodwin et al., 2014; Shagrir, 2010), and those who can empower their STs’ affective/
cognitive and academic aspects (Conklin, 2015). As far as the former is concerned, the quality and
quantity of TEs’ complex knowledge and the modes of delivery powerfully affect the theories and
practices STs’ adopt (Shagrir, 2010). The professional TE’s pedagogical content knowledge thus en-
tails aspects like supporting STs’ learning through conscious and unconscious modeling of teaching
and the role of teachers (Ben-Peretz, Kleeman, Reichenberg, & Shimoni, 2010; Goodwin et al., 2014;
Korthagen, Loughran, & Lunenberg, 2005; McKeon & Harrison, 2010; Shagrir, 2010).
The professional TE’s pedagogical content knowledge further includes serving as “brokers” or
“gatekeepers” who engage in actively designing and implementing instruction and transforming the
array of possible curricula, resources, and instructional strategies in order to provide concrete learn-
ing activities for their STs (Lunenberg, Dengerink, & Korthagen, 2014). Swennen, Jones, and Volman
(2010) and Tack and Vanderlinde (2014) argued that while modeling, as an “implicit” means of en-
couraging and facilitating learning (Boei et al., 2015), is good and important, it is insufficient. They
argued for “explicit modelling” or “practical knowledge articulation” to show how innovations work
in practice.
Moreover, professional TEs are required to pursue academic professional development (­Ben-Peretz
et al., 2010; Boei et al., 2015; Dengerink, Lunenberg, & Kools, 2015; Goodwin et al., 2014; Minott, 2010)
through engaging in conducting research (Boei et al., 2015; Goodwin et al., 2014; Loughran, 2014;
Lunenberg et al., 2014; Shagrir, 2010; Swennen et al., 2010; Tack & Vanderlinde, 2014). Thus, academic
professional development, where TEs strive to become the best professionals they can be, was divided
into three subjects: “institutions, subject domains, and the academic individuals themselves”
(Shteiman, Gidron, Eilon, & Katz, 2010, p. 341). It was viewed to include self-directed inquiry as in re-
flection-in-action and reflection-on-action, which allowed for “self-analysis of professional practice” of
TEs (Dengerink et al., 2015, p. 80) and which primarily referred to addressing and ­empowering indi-
vidual professional needs, “… updating and build up work-related knowledge” in a rapidly expanding
information era (Minott, 2010, p. 326).
Furthermore, TEs are responsible for empowering their STs and equipping them with the neces-
sary strategies to become “independent professionals” (Leung, 2009) and take responsibility for
their professional development in their respective contexts. Conklin (2015) was critical of the limited
preparation TEs received prior to becoming TEs. Conklin called for more explicit and systematic prep-
aration of TEs due to the changing social and political contexts so as to allow TEs “to address
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5. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
diversity and equity in their work preparing teachers” (p. 318). She articulated “a framework to guide
coursework focused on the pedagogy of teacher education with a specific emphasis on critical, so-
cial-justice pedagogies” (p. 320). The framework took into consideration the learning needs of the
STs “in the context of larger social and political forces” (p. 321), which shaped “who is engaged in
teacher learning, what they are learning, and how they are learning” (p. 321) to inform and improve
TEs’ practices, which suggested that student teaching “is a complex phenomenon that requires at-
tention to many factors and influences” (p. 320).
Thus, Goodwin et al. noted the worldwide questioning of university-based TE programs and the
fading public confidence in schools of education, despite the fact that entry to teacher education is
linked to holding a degree in higher education, which facilitates achieving accreditation and quality
control and measurement (Snoek, Swennen, & van der Klink, 2011). Goodwin et al. (2014) were criti-
cal of the fact that research has given scant attention to “… what TEs should know and be able to do”
(p. 284), which makes TEs a “distinct professional group with its own policy measures” (Snoek et al.,
2011, p. 661) and has direct bearing on their STs’ underperformance and shifts accountability to TEs
as professional and knowledgeable practitioners.
4. What makes a professional ELT TE?
Like the literature on non-ELT teacher education, but notably to a lesser degree, there has been
some discussion in the SLTE literature about TEs as being “powerful socialization models” and “influ-
ential role models for their prospective teachers” (Al-Issa, 2005, p. 347). However, the literature on
SLTE problematized ELT TEs’ knowledge and found it conscious, deep, comprehensive, and consist-
ing of “micro” and “macro” categories (Moradkhani, Akbari, Ghafar Samar, & Kiany, 2013) with
knowledge of the target language being rated highest specially by non-native English speaking
stakeholders (Moradkhani et al., 2013). Other types of complex and strong disciplinary knowledge
such as pedagogical content knowledge and professional development knowledge are acquired
through two channels. First, conduct different types of research (Farmer & Nucamendi, 2004;
Moradkhani et al., 2013) to raise one’s awareness about the latest findings in the field and “critically
examine new ideas and their potential for application” (Moradkhani et al., 2013, p. 135). Second,
collaborate with their colleagues (Moradkhani et al., 2013) to critically reflect on one’s own profes-
sional knowledge and STs’ learning and experiences through looking at the different artifacts avail-
able at their disposal in the different contexts in which they exist (Singh & Richards, 2006). This is
bound to help them adjust their teaching and adopt the latest educational and pedagogical pro-
cesses and practices like “co-operative learning”, “student-centred”, and “reflective inquiry” (Singh
& Richards, 2006, p. 14), for example, which according to Farmer and Nucamendi, is a reflection of
“ethical commitment” and has the potential to impact STs’ learning (Brookfield, 1995). This way, TEs
bridge the gap between theory and practice (Moradkhani et al., 2013), establish new practices, and
take new roles (Hawkins, 2004 cited in Singh & Richards, 2006) since training is evolving and is “…
closely associated with political, economic, social, and cultural contexts” (Al-Issa, 2005, p. 347).
The ELT literature also discussed the role and impact of TEs as being empowering educators
(Moradkhani et al., 2013; Singh & Richards, 2006). Through the sociopolitical and contextual knowl-
edge they possess (Moradkhani et al.) professional TEs are in a position to critically examine the SLTE
course room and the complex nature of teaching and learning to shape their STs’ knowledge. Such
knowledge, is affected by multiple implicit and explicit factors and can have direct bearing on STs’
affective/cognitive and professional development and help them develop as progressive teachers,
informed and dynamic thinkers, critical inquirers and professionals, theory generators and develop-
ers and new knowledge and meaning sharers and constructors, autonomous and critical reflective
practitioners, and powerful agents of change. Singh and Richards outlined a wide host of sugges-
tions such as collaborative and discovery learning, social active participation, and acquisition and
sharing of new professional knowledge and discourse as their points of departure, which redefine
the roles and responsibilities of ELT TEs as powerful and significant empowering educators.
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6. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
Farmer and Nucamendi (2004) thus viewed these qualities as possessed by the professional ELT
TE as leading to achieving “Total Quality Management” in ELT and “accountability” to “individual
clients” and to the “society as a whole” (p. 7). This is particularly important at a challenging era wit-
nessing a shift in beliefs about ELT (Hawkins, 2004 cited in Singh & Richards, 2006) and characterized
as post or anti-method where “principled eclecticism” (Brown, 2002; Larsen-Freeman, 2000; Mellow,
2002) has become a commonly discussed proposition across the many diverse international con-
texts and in a world described by Farmer and Nucamendi as “uncertain”.
5. Rationale
When it comes to the qualities of the professional ELT TE one can argue that it is generally an under-
explored area. The current research conducted on this issue can be described as limited, fragment-
ed, and underdeveloped and there is an urgent need to pursue further studies that can investigate
the topic at more depth since there is a need to enrich the existing literature, provide insights into
the topic, and expand our understanding about it. Thus, taken together, many of the qualities of the
professional ELT TE described above are recognized indirectly, as the reviewed studies and position
papers focus on TEs’ qualities and theoretical and practical knowledge. Furthermore, the present
study attempts to lay the initial groundwork that will lead to future studies about the qualities of the
professional ELT TE. Moreover, the discussion of the professional ELT TE should help us understand
what implications the qualities have for preparing professional English language teachers and
achieving accountable and quality SLTE.
6. Research questions
This study seeks to answer the following questions:
(1) What are the perceptions of ELT practitioners on the qualities of the professional ELT TE?
(2) What implications do the qualities of the professional ELT TE have for preparing professional
English language teachers?
(3) What implications do the qualities of the professional ELT TE have for achieving quality and
accountability in SLTE?
7. Method
7.1. Research participants
Sixty-three ELT practitioners, or knowledgeable professionals, from 23 countries participating in
three different international ELT conferences held in different parts of the world—Europe, the Middle
East and the Far East—were asked to complete a questionnaire about the qualities of the profes-
sional ELT TE they were trained by and the qualities of the professional ELT TE (see Table 1).
The study participants, who had variable experience in their areas, were school teachers, TEs, su-
pervisors, and college faculty members, with the last being the majority. They also held different
qualifications. While some were holders of a first degree, others were more qualified. Additionally,
some of the participants were trained in one country, while others received their training in as many
as five countries (see Table 2).
7.2. Data sources
This study employs a qualitative approach to data collection and analysis by means of asking the
research participants a set of closed and open ended questions to elicit their answers about what
makes a professional ELT TE. For the purpose of this study, professional ELT TEs are considered those
professionals who teach or coach (student) teachers with an aim of supporting their professional
development (Lunenberg et al., 2014).
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7. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
Table 1. Research participants’ information
No. Countries of origin Number of participants
1 Oman 14
2 Malaysia 5
3 UK 5
4 USA 5
5 Bangladesh 3
6 The Netherlands 3
7 Thailand 3
8 Turkey 3
9 Belgium 2
10 Canada 2
11 Egypt 2
12 Italy 2
13 Poland 2
14 Russia 2
15 South Africa 2
16 Australia 1
17 Cuba 1
18 Finland 1
19 India 1
20 Japan 1
21 Ireland 1
22 Sweden 1
23 Switzerland 1
Total 63
The questions were largely inspired by Mullock’s (2003) experience survey instrument used to in-
vestigate the perceptions of postgraduate TESOL students about what constitutes a “good teacher”.
The aforementioned discussion has shown the great similarities between English teachers and TEs
in the sense that both parties need to be reflective practitioners, researchers, competent practition-
ers, and models.
Question Six is closed and attempts to elicit answers about whether the participants have had an
ELT TE that they would describe as professional. Questions Seven and Eight are open ended. While
the first one is built on Question Five and asks the participants to rely on their past experience about
what qualities made their ELT TE professional, the second question is geared more toward partici-
pants who have not had formal training in ELT, and hence did not have an educator. Such partici-
pants are required to rely on their views about the qualities of the professional ELT TE.
The reason underlying including Question Eight was due to the researcher’s knowledge about
certain teachers in certain contexts around the world, who do not come from ELT background, but
who have practiced teaching for a long time, and hence get hired as teachers of English for their
experience. This is the case in the six Gulf countries, for example. It is noteworthy that some partici-
pants who answered Question Seven also answered Question Seven and provided different informa-
tion to what was provided in Question Seven.
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8. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
Table 2. Research participants’ coding
No. Nationality Countries trained in Qualification Current job
1 Russian Russia PhD Language instructor
2 British UK MA ESP instructor
3 Bangladeshi Bangladesh and K.S.A MA Language instructor
4 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
5 Canadian Japan, UK and USA MA ESP instructor
6 Dutch The Netherlands MA CLIL instructor
7 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
8 British Wales MA ESP instructor
9 Omani Oman MEd Regional supervisor
10 Finnish Finland and Canada MA CLIL instructor
11 British England MA ESP instructor
12 Irish Ireland MA Teacher trainer
13 Swedish Sweden MA CLIL instructor
14 Malaysian Australia MA CLIL instructor
15 Polish Poland MA CLIL instructor
16 American Germany MA ESP instructor
17 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
18 Thai Thailand MA Language instructor
19 South African South Africa MA CLIL instructor
20 Turkish Turkey MA Language instructor
21 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
22 American The Netherlands MA ESP instructor
23 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
24 American UK MA ESP instructor
25 Omani Oman MEd Language instructor
26 South African South Africa PhD Professor of applied linguistics
27 American USA MA ESP instructor
28 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
29 Australian Australia MA ESP instructor
30 Malaysian Malaysia MA Language instructor
31 Polish Poland MA CLIL instructor
32 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
33 American USA MA ESP instructor
34 Swiss Switzerland, Germany and USA MA CLIL instructor
35 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
36 Dutch The Netherlands MA CLIL instructor
37 Egyptian Egypt, Australia, Britain, Canada and MA College instructor
38 Italian Italy MA CLIL instructor
39 American USA MA ESP instructor
40 Omani Oman BEd School teacher
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9. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
An additional source of data leading to triangulation is the selective literature about the qualities
of the ELT TE. Much has been written and published about the role of TEs in affecting their STs’ theo-
retical and practical knowledge. This work will be synthesized and used here as a significant source
of data leading to expanding our knowledge about the qualities of the professional ELT TE.
7.3. Data collection
The data were collected at three international ELT conferences—the Far East, Europe, and the Middle
East. A hard copy of the form that contains the questions (see Appendix B) and a cover letter (see
Appendix A), which includes information about the nature and purpose of the research, were shown
to the members of the three conference organizing committees,’ who all thanked the researcher for
his initiative and gave their informed consent.
While the conference in the Far East was organized by a private organization, the other two con-
ferences were held in Europe and the Middle East and were organized by universities. In the former
case, the researcher needed to gain ethical clearance from the conference organizing committee,
which was granted to him verbally after showing the members of the conference organizing com-
mittee a copy of the form and information letter. The same procedures applied to the conference
held in Europe, where the researcher asked the conference organizing committee about his interest
in conducting the study and showed them a copy of the necessary documents and received their
verbal consent. As far as the conference in the Middle East was concerned, the researcher was famil-
iar with the university departments and procedures, as he was one of its faculty members. He ap-
proached the Deanship of Research and requested an ethical clearance, which was granted to him
in writing and which he then submitted to the conference organizing committee.
Hard copies of the form and the letter were then printed and distributed to 66 participants using
a non-random haphazard sampling approach, taking into account certain practical criteria such as
subjects’ availability and accessibility, their geographical proximity, availability of subjects at the
data collection time and the subjects’ willingness to participate in the study. The participants were
selected on face-to-face basis. They gave their informed consent to participate in the study. A spe-
cial file was used to store the completed forms, which were chronologically numbered from 1 to 63.
In order to avoid confusion, and since teacher education can mean different things to different
people depending on their respective contexts, a definition of TE was provided in the information
The participants had their name tags on, which indicated their affiliations too. It was important for
the researcher to target participants representing different nationalities, backgrounds, and experi-
ences to be able to draw on data from various contexts and multiple dimensions of the professional
ELT TE. Sixty-one participants completed the form and returned it either at the same time or on the
same day. Two participants scanned and e-mailed their forms to the researcher after the confer-
ence. Three participants took copies of the questionnaire but did not return them for unknown
A very small number of the participants did not undergo any formal ELT training, and hence did
not have an educator they considered particularly excellent. However, they managed to answer
Question Seven, which asked them to mention the qualities that make a professional ELT TE. While
some participants listed individual words, others wrote short sentences and a third category wrote
paragraphs of variable lengths and corroborated their answers with examples.
7.4. Data analysis
Data analysis in this study follows a “realist/essentialist” approach/paradigm to thematic analysis.
Additionally, it follows a “semantic/explicit” process of thematic identification to allow progression
from description to interpretation in “an attempt to theorize the significance of the patterns and
their broader meanings and implications” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 13).
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10. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
To answer the first research question, the researcher followed an inductive or bottom up way to
identifying the study themes, where thematic analysis is data-driven and theory is grounded in the
data. He first immersed himself in the data and read and re-read it for familiarization purposes and
noted down initial ideas in the margins. Different highlighting colors were used to highlight recurring
terms and statements that are descriptively linked by a common idea to manually generate initial
codes. Using file cards, individual extracts were then copied from the texts and collated each code
separately. The different codes were sorted out theoretically or analytically.
Two themes emerged from the data. Each of those themes was given a short and compelling
name that conveyed an immediate essence of the theme. One of the two overarching themes, which
ran across the data and described the essence of the professional ELT TEs, was empowering educa-
tor while the other one was strong disciplinary knowledge. In fact, both overarching themes cap-
tured the meaning of a professional ELT TE. Each theme included three sub-themes. After having
identified and named the two overarching themes, the sub-themes were revisited and checked for
their properties and names to make sure that they fit as parts of a whole.
In addition, the pertinent literature was used to answer the second and third research questions.
Relevant knowledge was found in the different texts about ELT and general education regarding the
implications of the qualities of the professional ELT TE for preparing professional English teachers
and achieving accountability and quality in SLTE.
The participants quoted in Section 8 were coded and will be referred to by their numbers in Table
2. Information about their nationalities, the countries in which they trained, and their current jobs
were provided in order to show the variation in perceptions about what makes a professional ELT TE
across as many parts of the world as possible and highlight the universality of the phenomenon.
7.5. Methodological rigor
To ensure methodological rigor and credibility and trustworthiness of results, and in addition to the
different forms of triangulation pursued in this study, the thick descriptions of the phenomenon
under scrutiny and examination of previous research findings, I kept an open mind and used his al-
most 15 year experience as a TE, observations, reading, research, and scholarship to analyze the
participants’ statements. I also sought peer scrutiny to help bring fresh perspective. I asked two
colleagues from the ELT teacher education field and outside it to act as independent reviewers and
check the data coding and read the entire article after completing the first draft for corroborative
reliability purposes, which helped improve the quality of the analysis and article as a whole.
8. Findings
8.1. Empowering educator
8.1.1. Empowering STs’ affection/cognition
Different professional TEs were found to be those who would empower the diverse affective/cogni-
tive aspects of their STs through attending to their diverse needs as an important dimension of social
justice ELT education leading to successful implicit teaching modeling. They achieved this through
being aware of and sensitive to the student teachers’ needs (Participants No. 14 and 36), catering for
their STs’ various learning styles (Participant No. 12), and not imposing a particular dialect of English,
but rather tapping into the multi-lingual resources available in the classroom and assisting students
in negotiating the varieties of English in the classroom (Participant No. 26).
Additionally, other professional TEs effectively implemented a different aspect of social justice ELT
education, modeled implicit teaching differently, and addressed a different dimension of qualities
and cultural diversity in relation to who is engaged in learning, what they are learning, and how they
are learning. They achieved this by playing the role of a motivator (Participants No. 3, and 30), having
good rapport with the student teachers (Participant No. 14), adopting flexibility (Participants No. 1, 2,
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11. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
and 38), being humorous (Participant No. 20), funny (Participant No. 18), an entertaining lecturer
(Participant No. 29), friendly (Participants No. 2, 18 and 35), patient (Participants No. 1, 2, 4, 8, 19, 22
and 39), encouraging (Participants No. 6, 8, 23, and 30), very helpful (Participant No. 23), approach-
able (Participant No. 7), dedicated and determined to help the trainees (Participant No. 20), a good
listener (Participant No. 2), a guide, supportive, considerate (Participant No. 40), and caring
(Participants No. 23 and 33).
Professional TEs were also viewed as those who were explicitly and systematically prepared to
conduct their job leading to unconscious modeling of teaching and positively impacting their STs’
beliefs about social justice ELT education. Important qualities that reflected this concept were being
passionate about doing the job (Participant No. 38), always prepared (Participant No. 3) well-organ-
ized (Participants No. 19 and 40), open-minded (Participants No. 20, 32 and 39), energetic (Participants
No. 16 and 37), inspiring (Participant No. 11), and confident (Participants No. 32 and 35).
8.1.2. Empowering STs’ academic knowledge
Some of the professional ELT TEs successfully implemented social justice ELT education and ad-
dressed diversity and impartiality in their classrooms by adopting principled eclecticism. This
emerged in some of the statements about having the willingness to push the boundaries and being
innovative (Participant No. 29), having the ability to engage student teachers in activities and/or the
ability to prepare activities that are engaging (Participant No. 13), encourage independent learning
through the use of iPad and computer websites (Participant No. 14), challenge the trainees to think
outside the box (Participant No. 15).
Other professional ELT TEs promoted cooperative and collaborative learning to facilitate knowl-
edge sharing and active social participation. This occurred best through encouraging trainee teach-
ers to exchange experiences with each other (Participant No. 17), exposing student teachers to
different teaching scenarios through collaborative training (Participant No. 16), stimulating discus-
sions and problem-solving tasks through using thinking, pair work, knowledge sharing, mind mapping,
etc. (Participant No. 15), and facilitating communicative classes and engaging trainee teachers in
relevant materials and practice about language issues (Participant No. 38), and developing
Communities of Learning in order to help promote STs’ learning in both the ELT program and with their
students (Participant No. 5).
8.1.3. Empowering STs’ professional development
Professional ELT TEs were found to be those who could adopt a third perspective of social justice
pedagogy to facilitate their STs’ independent professional development through implementing
­discovery learning to help them grow as informed change agents, who can construct and share
meaning and stimulate their STs’ critical thinking and inquiry to generate knowledge relevant to
their respective contexts. This was best found in TEs as being knowledgeable about a variety of
­methodologies and theories, but does not prescribe a single one (Participant No. 24), helping the ST to
be independent and to develop and teach what they preach (Participant No. 2), allowing flexibility and
encouraging creativity and allowing opportunity to trainees to try out some of their ideas in their
teaching and let students’ personalities and styles as teachers to show, rather than impose his own
thinking (Participant No. 25), helping student teachers see the link between the theories they take in
their classes and the real classroom (Participant No. 27), involving trainees in discovering their
strengths and weaknesses in each situation and how they can approach heterogeneous and
­multicultural groups of students (Participant No. 10), and untapping the creativity of the student
teachers by encouraging them to explore a range of methodologies appropriate to their contexts
(Participant No. 26).
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12. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
8.2. Strong disciplinary knowledge
8.2.1. English language knowledge
In the demanding and challenging informationalism era and CLT-based revolution, proficiency in the
English language (Participant No. 32), having good knowledge of the foreign language s/he teaches
and being a model of the foreign language user (Participant No. 31), having good communicative skills
and good knowledge of the English language (Participant No. 15), and being linguistically proficient
and linguistically excellent, especially in Standard English pronunciation (Participant No. 30), was em-
phasized and received considerable attention from various participants as an important quality that
helped implicit modeling of teaching and gave confidence to STs about their respective TEs’ target
language abilities.
8.2.2. Pedagogical content knowledge
The professional ELT TE was found to have the ability to actively design and implement instruction
and transform the array of possible curricula, resources, and instructional strategies in order to pro-
vide concrete learning activities for his/her STs. This appeared evident in the TE’s having rich and
updated teaching and methodological knowledge (Participant No. 9) and the ability to drew on highly
organized theoretical and practical knowledge to deliver knowledge to their STs and have a well-
structured delivery of a blend of theory and practical experience (Participant No. 8).
Other equally important types of pedagogical content knowledge, and hence, qualities of the pro-
fessional ELT TE, were found to be explicit modeling of how an innovation like CLT, for example,
works. This was found in the statement made by Participant No. 11, who described his professional
ELT TE as one who taught through examples. In other words, I was taught CLT by a teacher who used
that method to teach the students.
More qualities were associated with practical knowledge articulation, where the professional ELT
TE had profound understanding of the challenges, which will be raised by aspiring teachers in the ELT
context (Participant No. 22) and had extensive experience in different parts of the world, which he
always drew upon and shared with the student teachers (Participant No. 7). Such knowledge would
then lead TEs to being dedicated to providing feedback (Participant No. 13), offering constructive criti-
cism (Participant No. 5), answering any questions the trainees may have (Participant No. 21), having
clear practical suggestions for dealing with particular situations (Participant No. 13), and providing
comments that can be used to improve our level and teaching abilities (Participant No. 28).
8.2.3. Professional development knowledge
The professional ELT TE was found to critically reflect on his/her actions to update and build up work-
related knowledge and take on new roles as a result of having awareness of the paradigm shift in ELT
(Participant No. 3) and the ability to establish new practices through looking at an idea through
multiple perspectives (Participant No. 2) and being aware of the latest ELT developments (Participant
No. 1), but having her own strong ideas about ELT and critical thinking skills to be able to apply them
to evaluate the latest ELT trends (Participant No. 1).
Professional development was further viewed as reflecting-on-action to help achieve self-analysis
of professional practices through being an established researcher (Participant No. 5), conducting re-
search on language teaching as a second language (Participant No. 9), and participating and present-
ing in many conferences (Participant No. 4) for continuous self-development purposes.
In addition, the professional ELT TE’s reflection-on-action practice was viewed as pursuing profes-
sional development to help establish new practices and advance expanding the field of ELT through
demonstrating the ability and skill to relate individual fields to the wider field of ELT (i.e. how psycho-
linguistics relates to classroom teaching, for example) (Participant No. 11), have up to date, practical
hands-on incorporating multisensory approaches (Participant No. 12), and how ESP/EAP should be
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13. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
taught in higher education and what technical knowledge one needs to understand the scope of such
teaching and the best practices involved (Participant No. 10).
A different perspective of the professional ELT TE’s professional development was viewed as pur-
suing reflection-on-action for institutional developmental and implicit STs’ professional develop-
ment modeling purposes. That was evident in the case of the TE quoted by Participant No. 5, who
described his professional ELT TE by saying she embraced reflective practice and had observers evalu-
ate her, making it reasonable to ask us to do evaluations and observations. Her understanding of
second language acquisition was extensive.
9. Discussion and conclusion
This study inquires into perceptions about the qualities of the professional ELT TE and what implica-
tions such qualities have for preparing professional English language teachers and achieving quality
and accountability in SLTE. The findings indicate that the participants hold perceptions about the
professional ELT TE as an empowering educator and one who has strong disciplinary knowledge,
with each of these two qualities having sub-qualities, which delineates a complex picture about the
In addition, the findings point in the direction of the qualities of the professional ELT TE as ground-
ed in social justice education to help flourish lives through engaging in critical and deep self-reflec-
tion, critical questioning of knowledge and its sources and ways of its delivery, understanding and
practicing democratic education, taking organized individual and collective social action to influence
change, and empowering STs to pursue social justice education (Grant, 2012). Social justice SLTE is
thus “a moral and political undertaking” (Kaur, 2012, p. 486), which is difficult and complex and
which involves different ideological positions held by TEs with a transformation and change agenda
with “multicultural social reconstructionist” (Martin, 1993) and “multicultural awareness for social
justice” (Banks, 2008; Banks & Banks, 2009) awareness grounded in the theoretical and practical
knowledge held by the TEs about ELT education.
The ELT TEs within the context of this study can be described as “Democratic Student Development”
educators, who “… see the student and their personal development as the focal point of education”
and “… have a student centered approach in their classrooms characterized by high levels of interac-
tion and activities” (Boudon, 2015, p. 134) to empower their STs’ affective/cognitive aspects, aca-
demic knowledge, and professional development. Such TEs represent “ethical reasoning” to face an
“ethical dilemma” through embracing a blend of “morality of justice” and “morality of care” ap-
proaches to social justice ELT education (Shapira-Lishchinsky, 2016). Morality of justice within the
context of this study is associated with TEs’ obligation to provide their STs with quality education
through drawing on their strong disciplinary knowledge leading to implicit and explicit modeling of
quality teaching. On the other hand, Shapira-Lishchinsky sees morality of care as involving emotions
and cognition and reflected in teachers’ discourse about the professional TE. Spalding, Klecka, Lin,
Odell, and Wang (2010) thus hold that teaching is a caring profession. They problematize caring and
describe it as “multidimensional”, which includes “pedagogical”, “moral”, and “cultural” aspects. TEs
are hence required “… to display respect and responsiveness to students’ needs and capabilities,
encourage discussion and self-reflection, and engage students in meaningful learning situations” (p.
193) to help impact their STs’ beliefs, knowledge, and practices.
Social justice SLTE is hence one of the challenges ELT TEs are bound to face to empower their STs
through catering for their cultural diversity (Cumming-Potvin, 2009). Boudon (2015) describes TEs
who care about providing their STs with “… the tools to develop consciousness and engage in action
to improve all education” and strive to provide “… input on topics and assignments in an egalitarian
classroom” as “Critical Action Perspective” educators (p. 134). In their review of literature on social
justice education, Spalding et al. found that “a predisposition to care may serve as a foundation for
building a commitment to teaching for social justice” (p. 193).
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14. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
Another kind of challenge ELT TEs are bound to face is related to adopting pedagogies that “de-
velop teachers for social justice” (Boylan & Woolsey, 2015, p. 64). Boylan and Woolsey suggest that
social justice education is best achieved through pursuing critical inquiry into one’s pedagogical
content knowledge as a result of “discomfort” with the status quo, as in the shift in beliefs and the
expansion the ELT field is experiencing due to global competing and contesting cultural, economic,
and political forces, and the implications all this has for helping underprivileged societies and indi-
viduals advance and compete in the international community and global village.
Within this vein, Spalding et al. (2010) argue for the role of TEs as explicators of theories relevant
to the context in which they exist in, implicit and explicit models of innovations, and articulators of
practices compatible with the respective contexts in which they work so as to help prepare their STs
as informed agents of change in their diverse and ideologically driven ELT contexts, where educa-
tional standards transform into contextual constraints and interfere with STs’ commitment to intro-
duce and pursue creativity and innovation in ELT education. Put differently, some TEs described in
this study, and through their strong disciplinary knowledge, used social justice as a “goal and pro-
cess” (Bell, 2007). They not only drew on their knowledge as acquired from their explicit and system-
atic preparation and professional development to help them practice what they preach with full
awareness in order to successfully influence their STs’ beliefs, knowledge, and practices about
teaching for social justice, but also drew on their pedagogical content knowledge to design and im-
plement quality instruction that helped them transform their classrooms into democratic arenas for
critical questioning and influenced their STs’ affective/cognitive, academic, and professional
10. Limitations
This study could have come to somewhat more different results than it did, if it were not confronted
with the following limitations. The small number of participants in this study does not allow for any
conclusions to be drawn about the perceptions of the professional ELT TE across cultures or ranks
(STs, teachers, TEs, etc.). Additionally, because the study was qualitative, the obtained findings can-
not be safely generalized to different situations.
11. Future research
The findings of this study influence our understanding about the participants’ perceptions toward
the professional ELT TE as SLTE social justice providers and introduce a new knowledge dimension to
the field on the notion and qualities of the professional ELT TE and how it can contribute to preparing
professional English teachers. These perceptions need to receive attention in order to make certain
progress in assisting ELT TEs to become professionals. These perceptions further point to the impor-
tance of and the need for an ELT TE policy formulation to help design and implement a SLTE program
capable of achieving quality and accountability. The findings thus hope to stimulate further research
about this topic.
Therefore, a systematic investigation of the curriculum and delivery of the different ELT TE prepa-
ration programs around the world is a recommended research direction for the future. There is also
a need for further studies to correlate perceptions about the professional ELT TE with TE behavior in
the different international classroom contexts, and with larger numbers of subjects representing
more contexts and ELT education backgrounds. In addition, future discussion could focus on a ho-
mogenous group of participants (STs, teachers, TEs, etc.) at a time to allow for deeper understanding
of the qualities of the professional ELT TE at the different teacher training and education levels
­(pre-service and in-service) and ways of preparing them.
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15. Al-Issa, Cogent Education (2017), 4: 1326652
Funding Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher.
The author received no direct funding for this research. San-Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Brown, H. (2002). English language teaching in the ‘post-
Author details method’ era: Toward better diagnosis, treatment, and
Ali S.M. Al-Issa1 assessment. In J. Richards & W. Renandya (Eds.),
E-mail: Methodology in Language Teaching (pp. 9–18). Cambridge:
ORCID ID: Cambridge University Press.
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of
Education, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 3058, Ruwi Conklin, H. (2015). Preparing novice teacher educators in the
112, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. pedagogy of teacher education. Action in Teacher
Education, 37, 317–333.
Citation information
Cite this article as: Qualities of the professional English Coskun, A., & Daloglu, A. (2010). Evaluating an English
language teacher educator: Implications for achieving language teacher education program through Peacock’s
quality and accountability, Ali S.M. Al-Issa, Cogent model. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 35, 24–42.
Education (2017), 4: 1326652. Retrieved from
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Appendix A
Dear Participant,
This questionnaire aims to identify the qualities of the “professional” English Language Teaching
teacher educator. Please note that the term “teacher educator” refers to those professionals who
teach or coach (student) teachers with an aim of supporting their professional development.
Kindly fill in the questionnaire on the other side of this paper, bearing in mind that the information
you will provide is confidential and will be used for research purposes only.
Thank you very much indeed for your cooperation.
The Researcher
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