Since the role of English as a language of international communication has been widespread quickly in educational systems around the world, teaching of English as a second or foreign language has become an increasingly significant task (Richards, 2001). Therefore, many countries in the globe have been working hard to ensure their citizens' adequate English proficiency, which is necessary for their social economic development. To reach their goals, English has been included as a relatively important subject in each country's national academic curriculum. As a part of educational development, effective and qualified teachers are really significant in improving students' academic performance and educational system (Shishavan & Sadeghi, 2009). In Cambodia context, how to teach English effectively is a common concern among English educators, teachers, and other relevant stakeholders. Due to low salaries, most teachers decided to work outside the school to get additional income to support their family condition. Surprisingly, on the account of the shortage of English teachers in Cambodia, only a small number of English teachers are specialized in English subject, but some teachers who are not majored in English were tentatively chosen to teach English. They also did not have any appropriate training to become teachers of English (Vira, 2002). Thus, in an attempt to progress the quality of education in Cambodia, Investigation on the characteristics of effective English teachers in high school really provides a lot of contribution to enhancing the quality of teaching in order to meet the students' need. Since there were probably a few or no previous studies conducted on the characteristics of effective English teachers in Cambodia, this study therefore intends to figure out those characteristics of effective English teachers in high schools in Cambodia.
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In view of the objective mentioned above, this research aims to answer the following question.
What makes a good teacher?
Review of literature
An effective teacher should have some fundamental characteristics such as knowledge of subject matter, enough preparation, teaching experiences, teaching methodologies, flexibilities, communicative skills, creativity , high anticipation, self-assurance, and sense of belonging (Adams&Pierce, 2006 ; Thompson, Greer & Greer, 2004 ; Mohrdin, Jaidi, Sang, Osman, 2009)
In 2009, Shishavan and Sadeghi conducted a study on the characteristics of effective English language teachers as perceived by teachers and learners of English in Iran. As a result, effective English language teachers should give homework; prepare lessons; be up to date, self-controlled and adjustable; think about the students' needs ; have positive feeling toward students; being smart and creative; and apply a variety of teaching methods. According to Brosh's study (as cited in Shishavan & Sadeghi 2009), the qualities of good teachers can be identified such as being aware of knowledge of the target language; ability of organizing, explaining and clarifying as well as keeping the students' interest and motivation; showing equality to students; and being accessible to students. Even though most of research has been done on the important characteristics of a good language teacher in many countries around the world, this paper tends to recognize the good teachers of English in high schools in Cambodia by conducting research in some Cambodian high schools.
Significance of the study
This study is significant for four reasons. First, it will provide a general description on common characteristics of teachers of English in Cambodia by mainly focusing on their characteristic insufficiencies as teachers of English. Second, the study will identify their common characteristics of effective English teachers. The study will bring about only specific and important characteristics which mainly make differences between effective and ineffective teachers. Third, through the in-depth interview and questionnaires, the study hopes to give a clear picture of good teachers of English, which can be used as a model of English teaching. Finally, the study will be necessary for teachers of English since it will give them ideas on how to effectively teach English.
Limitation of research
This study is guided with the following limitations, which affect the generality of the finding. First, the study only focuses on high schools teachers while it does not count kindergarten, primary or high education teachers. Second, the study may be limited in its analysis or generality as it will be conducted in only two high schools, in which 10 teachers will be purposely selected. Third, since this study will mainly figure out only common or important characteristics, some points might be ignored. Therefore, the above-mentioned compounding circumstances may limit our understanding and evaluation; however, these are generally overwhelmed and controlled by the research design.
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In order to conduct this study more successfully, we will use the qualitative research approach which we will have to travel to two high schools located in Phnom Penh to select participants for interview. Before conducting interviews, we will make an appointment and notify the reason of visit to the school principals. Since this is a less prepared study, the exact of participants is not clear. We will use purposive sampling to select the sample for our study. We hope to interview 10 English teachers in both high schools. We will probably choose both female and male teachers regardless of the age.
With the purpose of getting trustworthy information, we will personally observe English teachers in high school using participant observation techniques, conduct informal small talk conversations and make arrangements to interview participants at a later time. We may take a few brief notes in the field setting, but take notes of teaching techniques and behaviors after observation. We will collect data through a questionnaire and personal observation. The questionnaire will consist of 2 parts. In part 1, there are 21 Likert Scale items. The teachers will be asked to provide their responses about the characteristics of an effective English teacher should have. As for part 2, there are four open-ended questions which we will ask them to provide their answers based on their ideas.
We will carry out interviews after observation and taking notes. The interviews will be a written questionnaire, open-ended questions and tape-recording (see Appendix below) for the details. Prior to interviewing or tape-recording, we will explain the main rational of the study to participants and tell them that their involvement is voluntary. We will bring together the names of participants but hold them in confidential. Personal identifiers will be released to the public in a way that protects the identification of participants. We expect interviews to take around 15 minutes to 45 minutes and occur in the school campus or outside the school. Interview questions and questionnaires will not be fixed prior to interviewing but will follow a general list of topics. We may ask different participants to fill in the questionnaires and answer the questions based on their preference. We will listen to tape recordings and take notes as well as transcribe the interviews. We may take photos with permission and will collect artifacts. After collecting the data of our research, we expect that the results of data collection will be really significant because they will reflect the fundamental characteristics of effective teachers in Cambodian high schools. Further, they will be a great contribution to upgrading the quality of English teachers in Cambodia.
Adam, M.C., & Pierce, L.R. (2006): Characteristics of effective teaching. Retrieved from: www.cms.bsu.edu/Adcademices/collegesandDepartments.
Mohidim, R., Jaidi, J., Sang,T.L. , & Osmen, Z. (2009). Effective teaching methods and lecturers characteristics: European Journal of Social Sciences. Retrieved from: www.eurojournals.com
Richards,C.J. (2001). Curriculum development in language teaching. Cambridge language Education: Cambridge University Press.
Shishavan, B. H., & Sadeghi, K. (2009). Characteristics of an effective English language teacher as perceived by Iranian teachers and learners of English. English Language Teaching. 4(2), 130-142.
Thompson, S., Greer, G. J., & Greer, B. B. (2004). High qualified for successful teaching: Characteristics every teacher should possess. Retrieved from www.usca.edu/essays/vol102004/thompson.pdf
Vira, N. (2002). Teaching English in Cambodian secondary schools: With a special focus on teachers' preferences towards the improvement of their professional careers in language teaching. Bul.Grad.School Educ. (51). 197-206