The Challenges Faced by Jordanian English Language Teachers at Amman 1st and 2nd Directorates of Education

Article excerpt

This study surveyed the types of challenges EFL teachers encountered in Amman 1st and 2nd Directorates of Education via a questionnaire to which three open questions were attached. The sample consisted of 125 EFL teachers who were randomly chosen from the above directorates of education. By using the appropriate statistical measures, the findings of the study brought massive challenges, various factors behind them and different solutions the participants suggested to sort them out. Among these challenges were the arousing of students' interest to learn English, big classroom size, low achievement in English by students, covering the EFL curriculum within the allotted span of time irrespective of students' level in English and absence of educational preparation of teachers who graduate from the English department and the gap between pre-service preparation of EFL teachers and the actual teaching practice in the classroom. Similar findings were confirmed in the participating teachers' responses to the open questions in this study with challenges such as weakness in English, students' negative attitudes towards English, classroom size, variation in students' achievement in English, private lessons students take in private centers and the associated difference in instructional methods between school and these private centers, inability of students to communicate in English, lack of training teachers on modern technology and the lack of parental follow up of their children's English language learning were top on the challenges list.

Key words: challenges of English language teachers, language learning and teaching, EFL teacher training

Theoretical background

Within English language instruction in Jordan as a field characterized by increasing and wide-spread interest in learning English supported by a governmental and societal curiosity for more effective and extensive English language education, the present study sets out to investigate the challenges which Jordanian English language teachers face in Amman first and second directorates of education as a selected group of EFL teachers.

Despite the recent changes in language education which have stressed the autonomous nature of learner's learning, the teacher's role is still considered one of the main factors behind successful language learning (Harmer, 1991). Freeman and Johnson (1998) highlighted the central role of the teacher in language teacher education despite emphasis on methods and materials. They asserted that focus should be on the teaching activity, the teacher who implements it, its related context as well as pedagogy. This new vision in language teaching is well expressed by Curtain and Pesola (1994) who called for equipping the teacher with a combination of competencies together with a background that may be unknown before in language teacher preparation.

A major component of EFL teacher preparation is the subject matter competency and the related pedagogical and curricular knowledge demanded by effective teachers. Within the professional development framework, knowledge base competency received a significant attention by specialists such as Shulman (1986 and 1987) and Velez-Rendon (2002) among others. Shulman (1986 and 1987) devised a theoretical framework with emphasis on subject matter content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and curriculum knowledge.

Despite the pre-service preparation of EFL teachers and the in-service education of them at the Jordanian EFL environment, teachers complain of several professional challenges. Similarly, World-wide, English language teachers face teaching obstacles. For example, Sifakis (2009) presented challenges facing teaching English as an international lingua franca curriculum in the state schools in Greece. This relevant study broadly described an EFL curriculum with focus on the skills necessary for carrying out fruitful communication involving non-native speakers and then emphasizes a group of challenges associated with both teaching context and teachers' perceptions pertaining to their professional identity. …