A Case Study On What Motivates Expatriate Education Essay

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Both individual schools and ministries of education in countries all over the world recruit and hire expatriate teachers in large numbers every year. These expatriate teachers are given the trust and responsibility of shaping the generations of tomorrow, so it is important that teachers are satisfied with their jobs and have the motivation to do their best. Several researchers have put forth many theories of motivation throughout the years. Motivation, an essential element for success, is defined by Harmer (2001, p. 51) as, "some kind of internal drive which pushes someone to do things in order to achieve something." Little however has tried to take into account, what is it that motivates expatriate teachers that have made the choice to leave their own countries to teach in a foreign country. The author has become increasingly interested in what motivates expatriate teachers through the years. She herself is an expatriate teacher who has taught English in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for several years. Watching expatriate teachers continually come and go has made her want to further investigate what causes teachers to come to UAE schools seemingly full of energy and drive, then appear to wear down and leave after some time. The author has watched this cycle repeat so often that it has sparked a desire in her to try to determine what the expatriate teachers' motivating factors are when first arriving in the UAE, and consequently what causes them to lose motivation and either return to their home countries or begin looking for other opportunity employments in the UAE.

This paper, which is a case study on what motivates expatriate teachers working in a private English medium school in Sharjah, UAE, attempts to determine what it is that makes teachers motivated to teach. It also seeks to better understand which groups of teachers, male or female, newer or more experienced teachers are the most motivated and what makes some teachers satisfied enough to continue teaching. Whether or not teaching was the teachers' first preferred career will also be considered. This case study was completed in a school with an exceptional reputation for its teaching and educational environment, the research illustrates motivational factors for teachers which in turn reflect the very ethos of the school in which the research was conducted. The school also employed expatriate teachers from many different countries, educational and social backgrounds that

Chapter Two

Review of the literature

The most frequently stated motive for being a teacher was found to be the pleasure and satisfaction of contact with young people, followed by love of the subject matter and success with initial experiences of substitute teaching. The type of early motivation that teachers reported did not reliably predict ensuing or even ultimate satisfaction or dissatisfaction with teaching as a career, though those whose choice to enter teaching was deliberate and unequivocal tended to have more harmonious, satisfactory careers. On the other hand, those who entered teaching for purely material motives, such as those who saw teaching primarily as a way to earn a living, providing good working conditions, and/or as allowing a parallel family life, were more likely to face crises later on. Those who experienced one or several periods of serious doubt about the pursuit of their career were less inclined to choose teaching again. The inverse was also true: those who had not experienced serious doubts were more likely to choose teaching again

as a career.

A great deal of research on teacher motivation has been conducted with pre-service teachers, and the general finding is that the major reasons underlying the decision to teach can be classified as intrinsic, altruistic and extrinsic motivations (see, for example, Brookhart and Freeman 1992; Kyriacou and Coulthard 2000). The literature suggests that in developed-country contexts, intrinsic and altruistic motivations (such as the motives of making a difference, enhancing the lives of children, contributing to the greater social good of society and helping to shape the future) are crucial for a satisfying and enduring career in the classroom (Cochran-Smith 2003; Rhodes, Neville and Allen 2004; Hammerness 2006; Manuel and Hughes 2006; Richardson and Watt 2006; Kyriacou and Kunc 2007; Morgan, Kitching and O'Leary 2007; Teven 2007; Alexander 2008). The research strongly suggests that the majority of teachers who enter and remain in the field are those who have always wanted to be teachers.

Within the Australian context, Richardson and Watt's (2006) study of the motivations of teacher

education students identified the highest ranking motivators for entering teaching to be perceived teaching abilities, the intrinsic value of teaching and social utility values (such as the desire to make a social contribution, shape the future and work with children/adolescents). Middle-ranked motives included positive prior teaching and learning experiences, and personal utility values (job security, time for family, job transferability). The lowest ranked motives were the negative motivations of having chosen teaching as a fallback career, and social influences. Participants also reported strong social dissuasion from a teaching career (from family and friends), on the grounds that teaching was low in social status, emotionally taxing and paid a low salary. Nonetheless, on entering teacher education, participants rated their satisfaction for having chosen a teaching career as high. Manuel and Hughes (2006) show similar findings. As Alexander (2008) observes, those who chose teaching do so because their desire to make a difference and to contribute to society overpowers the myriad of dissuasive factors. However, teaching and learning occur within socially and culturally constructed contexts, and the major

motives for choosing teaching in North American, British, Northern European and Australasian contexts (ie the desire to work with young people, the potential for the job to provide intellectual fulfillment and the means by which to make a social contribution) are not universal. In other sociocultural contexts, extrinsic motivations, such as salary, job security, holidays and career status, can assume greater importance for choosing teaching as a career (Chivore 1988; Yong 1995; Zembylas and Papanastasiou 2004).

Research demonstrates that motivation at the pre-service stage is not always maintained in the initial years of employment (see especially Huberman 1993; Hargreaves 2005). Although the career entry stage of a teacher's professional life cycle can be easy, it is frequently painful, or even traumatic. Novice teachers are not always well prepared for what Hoy (2008: 497) terms 'the tensions between serving and surviving, between caring and control, between deep investment and protective distance', and are often not provided with sufficient mentoring in their first teaching posts. In Australia, despite recent initiatives to provide high-quality induction for beginning teachers, persistent problems with teaching processes (especially classroom management and discipline) and socialization within the school context remain

(see, for example, Manuel 2003; McCormack and Thomas 2003). Recent evidence shows that teacher attrition rates are high: in the United States as many as 50% of teachers leave within the first three years of teaching (National Commission on Teaching and American's Future 2003) and 40% leave after five years in the United Kingdom (Kyriacou and Kunc 2007). In Australia figures are similar (Manuel 2003), and Watt and Richardson (2008) found around 56% of soon-to-be teacher graduates planned to teach for only a very short time, if at all. A number of general education studies over the past two or three decades have explored the factors that contribute to teacher satisfaction/dissatisfaction and that discourage teachers from staying in the profession (for useful reviews of the literature, see Scott, Cox and Dinham 1999; Dinham and Scott 2000; Kyriacou and Kunc 2007).

In general, studies show that the major sources of satisfaction tend to be intrinsic factors - those directly related to the actual task of teaching and working with young people (such as facilitating pupil learning and achievement), professional self-growth (including the mastery of subject matter and teaching skills), and recognition from parents, peers or superiors. Autonomy, professional freedom and supportive colleagues have also been found to be positive aspects of the job. Sources of dissatisfaction include administrative workload, low salary, poor promotional prospects and pupils' behavioral problems. More recently, in addition to structural and administrative factors, societal factors have been identified as major sources of dissatisfaction. The status of teachers, the pace of educational change and the increase in workload associated with it, societal expectations of schools and, particularly, the negative portrayal of teachers and teaching in the media are now major factors causing teachers dissatisfaction with teaching . On the other hand, factors such as school leadership, decision making and communication, school resources and community relations can be either neutral or moderately satisfying/dissatisfying, depending on school context and leadership factors (Dinham and Scott 1996; Scott, Cox and Dinham 1999; Dinham and Scott 2000).

Despite the existence of considerable literature on teacher motivation in general education, there are few studies that deal directly with initial teacher motivation in TESOL, though studies such as Tsui (2003) and Senior (2006) touch on the topic indirectly. One study that deals directly with teacher motivation is Johnston's (1997) interview study of five expatriate English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers and 12 local teachers in Poland. Johnston found that the teachers presented their entry into teaching as an accident or a second choice, and, unlike the general education studies cited above, none spoke of TESOL in terms of a calling. Expressions of altruism were tempered with looking after their own personal interests. Johnston observes that leaving the field was a constant possibility, even for those who had made a substantial investment in TESOL. Senior (2006), using a grounded theory approach, provides a brief, generalized account of the motivations of people undertaking an English-language teaching qualification in Australia and the United

Kingdom. These motivations included having no particular career direction, wanting to travel and have 'a bit of fun and adventure before settling down' (Senior 2006: 37), seeking a career change and being able to combine raising a family with part-time work.

In relation to career satisfaction in TESOL, the literature is more extensive. The most common finding in the TESOL literature is that teachers generally find the intrinsic aspects of teaching satisfying and fulfilling, but that they experience dissatisfaction with extrinsic factors in working conditions such as pay, job security and opportunities for promotion (CfBT 1989; Pennington 1991; Pennington and Riley 1991; McKnight 1992; Pennington and Ho 1995; Johnston 1997; Waites 1999; Kassabgy, Boraie and Schmidt 2001; Senior 2006). Johnston (1997) and Senior (2006) report that teachers expressed dissatisfaction with the low status of TESOL. Senior (2006) notes that TESOL practitioners were particularly dissatisfied, both with the public perception that anyone who can speak English can also teach it and with the ease with which individuals could complete a four-week training course and find a job as a teacher. Another source of dissatisfaction identified by Johnston (1997) was marginalization, and Johnston,

Pawan and Mahan-Taylor (2005) present a case study where the marginalization felt by an American EFL teacher in Japan was shown to be both cultural and professional in nature. Not only was the teacher regarded by the local population as an outsider, no matter how much she tried to fit in, but she was also unable to secure a tenured position because of her 'identity as a non-Japanese' (Johnston, Pawan and Mahan-Taylor 2005: 61). The authors ponder the extent to which expatriate teachers actively seek out and embrace marginality. A lack of professional recognition was also a serious cause of dissatisfaction for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers in school-level ESL contexts (McKnight 1992; Bascia and Jacka 2001; Edstam 2001; Senior 2006). Kassabgy, Boraie and Schmidt (2001) questionnaire study of the job satisfaction of 70 Egyptian and 37 North American TESOL teachers confirmed general education findings that higher value is placed on intrinsic aspects than extrinsic aspects. Job security, fringe benefits or prospects for promotion were less important to the teachers than good relationships with their students, colleagues and supervisors.

However, a major factor contributing to job satisfaction was quality of educational leadership, especially support, supervision, and the encouragement of staff development and participation. Pennington (1991) reports similar findings. In Tsui's (2003) study of four teachers of English in Hong Kong secondary schools, which explores the critical differences between expert, experienced and novice teachers, strong correlations are drawn between satisfaction and expertise in teaching. The four teachers had different initial motivations for entering the field, and ultimately different levels of satisfaction (Huberman and Grounauer 1993). The first teacher had always wanted to be a teacher; for the second, teaching was her second choice; the third chose teaching through a process of elimination; and the fourth fell into the profession when she wasn't able to find another job. The first and second teachers, who had been teaching for more than five years, appeared to derive more satisfaction from their work than the other two teachers, who were both novices and who both had a problematic relationship with teaching.

Like Johnston (1997), Kassabgy, Boraie and Schmidt (2001: 227) highlight 'the general lack of

information in the applied linguistics literature concerning what makes English language teachers inspired - their motivations, goals, and their views on what teaching does and should offer to people who make a career of it. The current paper aims to make a contribution to our understanding of this area. It presents a portrait of expatriate TESOL teachers working in South-East Asia by reporting on findings to the following research questions.

What factors motivated these teachers to join the field of TESOL?

What satisfactions/dissatisfactions do they receive from TESOL?

How satisfied are they in their choice of career?

Chapter Three

Methodology of Study

Purpose of Study

The main purpose of this study is to explore and identify the factors that motivate expatriate teachers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It also seeks to better understand why people choose to be teachers, the reasons they remain teachers and their future ambitions regarding the teaching profession. Some sub-questions that the study also seeks to address are the following:

1. Which groups of teachers report being most satisfied and dissatisfied with their jobs?

male or females?

2. How satisfied with their jobs are newer teachers having less than five years of experience?

3. How satisfied are teachers with more than five years of experience?

4. What motivates teachers to prefer being subject teachers instead of classroom teachers?

This case study was conducted at an English-medium, private school in Sharjah, UAE. The school opened in 2002, and currently serves 3,000 students in grades kindergarten through grade twelve. The student body is made up of both male and female students, representing over twenty different nationalities. It should be noted that the school has a reputation for being a very good school and received the highest ranking for a private school possible in Sharjah, by the Sharjah Ministry of Education for the 2012-2013 school year. The 280 member teaching staff is made up of 95% Western expatriate teachers from five different Western countries. The remaining 5% of the teaching staff is made up of mainly Arab teachers from six different Arab countries.

Study Design

De Vaus (2004) states in his book Research Design in Social Research that "The function of a research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables us to answer the initial question as unambiguously as possible" In order to discover unambiguous answers to the questions of teacher motivation and factors that motivate teachers to remain in the field of teaching, the researcher wanted to do a mixed-methods study that combined both qualitative and quantitative elements. Mixed-methods research design has many advantages which enable a researcher to research a topic more fully, making use of the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative methods while bypassing the weaknesses of the typical qualitative versus quantitative research design arguments. Some well-known strengths of mixed-methods research includes allowing

Stuff about quantitative methods…To obtain quantitative data, a cross-sectional survey was given to participants to complete. As teachers often do not have a lot of free time it was designed to be completed quickly and easily. Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement on a Likert-scale with fourteen statements about what motivates them to teach. Among the statements on motivation are also statements that the teachers willare also They also answered three open-ended questions asking them why they became teachers, if teaching was their first preference for a profession and how long they planned to remain in the field of teaching.

Stuff about qualitative methods

Participant teachers were also asked to keep a journal in which they were to write one or two sentences each week for a period of one month describing factors that motivate them and contribute to their enjoyment of teaching. This journal was designed to take only about 5 minutes for each entry with a total of 4 entries. Brevity of the paperwork involved with the research encouraged the teachers to participate.

Participant Sample ----Mistake here with the numbers

Although over thirty expatriate teachers were invited to participate in this case study, only seventeen teachers actually participated, with the others politely declining citing heavy workloads and lack of time as the reasons for their inability to take part in the study. Although anonymity was guaranteed, many teachers too voiced their concerns that their responses would eventually be known to their colleagues and more importantly to school administration. Of the seventeen participants in this case study, fourteen of them were female and three were male.

These participants represented a purposive sample of expatriate teachers of grades 6-8 from varying departments within the same private school. Only teachers in grades 6-8 were invited to participate in the research as grades 6-8 teachers all work in the middle school building together along with the researcher. Teachers of other grade levels work in the primary building and high school building respectively which are both situated some distance away from the middle school building. In order to save time and effort tracking teachers down, the researcher focused on teachers who work within her own building. All participants gave their informed, signed consent agreeing to participate in the research. Their ages ranged from 18 - 50 years old. The majority of them, eleven teachers, were Western expatriates representing three nationalities, and the other 6 Arab expatriate teachers represented 4 different nationalities. A total of ten different nationalities were represented in all by the participants. There was also a wide range in their professional qualifications as two of the teachers held only high school diplomas and the rest holding either a Bachelor degree and/or Master's degrees. A large difference also exists in the years of their professional teaching experience with some of them having no experience working as a teacher whatsoever, to others who have 25 years of teaching experience. Eleven of the teachers who participated in this study are native English speakers, while the rest were non-native speakers of English. It should also be noted although these teachers all work in grades 6-8. Five of the teachers are classroom teachers who teach the same group of students several subjects throughout the day. The other twelve teachers are subject teachers who move from classroom to classroom during the course of the school day. In all, they individually teach several different subjects including English, math, science, information communication technology, (ICT), art, physical education, and Arabic for non-native speakers. Altogether, the time spent by participants in the study totaled approximately 30 minutes over a period of one month. Although teachers involved in the study were able to withdraw voluntarily at any time during the study, all teachers participating remained in the study till the end. Anonymity of the teachers participating was respected, and at no time was any form of identifying information given out, nor were participants' answers and responses shared by the researcher between the participants. This guarantee of anonymity enabled the participants to feel secure enough to delve deeper into their thoughts and answer candidly about their experiences and feelings regarding teaching.


14 Females, 3 Males

Age Range

18 - 50 Years Old

Educational Background

High School Diploma only - Master's Degree

Years of Professional Teaching Experience

0 - 25 Years

Kind of Teacher

5 Classroom Teachers, 12 Subject Teachers

Native Language

13 Native English Speakers, 4 Native Arabic Speakers


11 Westerners (UK, US & France), 6 Arab Nationals (Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Palestine)

Years in UAE

1 - 25 years

Data Collection Methods

Research Tools: This research will be completed with the use of a questionnaire including both open and closed-ended questions as well as journal entries written once a week over a period of a month by the participants. Teachers will be asked to tick the appropriate boxes of the closed-ended questions as per their own experiences and feelings. The open-ended questions will require teachers to this should lead to less hesitation for participants to be honest and open in their responses.

Qualitative study



Triangulation of Methods

Reporting the data-Charts here

Figure 1:

Discussion of the data and implications to be drawn

FFA Here

Nias (1998) explained how teachers need to feel by saying,

We found that teachers wanted their colleagues to be sensitive to their emotional

needs, to respond with empathy, sympathy, and, occasionally, wise counseling.

They were deeply appreciative of opportunities to talk, to share the sense of worthlessness and failure, to relax, and above all to laugh (Nias, 1998, p.1260).


Encouraging Discouraging

Reflection on the process