Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Language Teacher Burnout and School Type

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Language Teacher Burnout and School Type

Article excerpt


The present study was an attempt to explore the level of burnout among primary school teachers in Malaysia. In addition, the study tried to determine if the school type has any significant influence on teachers' burnout level. To this end, 714 primary school teachers participated in the study. They were teaching at Malay (SK), Tamil (SJKT), and Chinese (SJKC) medium schools. The Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educators Survey (MBI- ES) (Maslach, Jackson, & Schwab, 1986) was used to collect the data on the teachers' burnout. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were used to analyze the data. The findings showed that the teachers' burnout ranged from moderate to low level. In addition, it was found that the teachers working at SJKC experienced lower level of Personal Accomplishments (PA) than those at SK and SJKT schools.

Keywords: Burnout, Malaysia, primary school, MBI-ES, school type

1. Introduction

Freudenberger (1974) was the one who first introduced the term 'burnout' in his Staff Burnout. He noticed that social workers tended to become depressed after a few years. Maslach, who is one of the most well-known figures exploring burnout, described it as emotional and physical fatigue through which the affected individual develops negative outlook towards his/her job, loses empathy for clients, and builds up reduced professional self-concept (Maslach & Pines, 1984). Burnout is classified into three different categories namely, Emotional Exhaustion (EE), Depersonalization (DP), and reduced Personal Accomplishment (PA) (Maslach, 1993). Emotional Exhaustion occurs when the individual's psychic energy is considerably depleted or his/her emotional resources are drained. Depersonalization is a condition in which the person develops negative feelings and attitudes toward the clients. Depersonalized individuals also feel psychologically drained. Reduced Personal Accomplishment is evident if an individual feels inadequate and indifferent toward his/her clients and assesses his/her work with recipients negatively (Maslach, 1993; Gavrilovici, 2007).

Whereas many researchers have tried to explore and study burnout in the field of health care (Moreno, Morett, Rodríguez, & Morante, 2006; Miró, Solanes, Martínez, Sánchez, & Rodríguez, 2007), the empirical data in the literature have also identified teaching as a career that creates burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001; Shaufeli & Buunk, 2002). Teachers experience a great deal of burnout, especially depersonalization, because they get isolated from their colleagues due to their career conditions (Bennett & LeCompte, 1990). As a matter of fact, teachers interact with others during work, but all the interactions are limited almost to learners. As a result, teachers do not get the chance to interact much with the people who can understand them. The risk of burnout elevates as the teachers become more isolated from their colleagues and/or other teachers.

The objectives of this study were to explore burnout among English Language teachers at primary schools in Malaysia. Moreover, the study made an attempt to find out whether the kind of school (SK, SJKC, SJKT) at which the teachers currently work, had any significant influence on their level of burnout. The research questions were:

1) What is the level of burnout among Malaysian primary school English language teachers?

2) Does the type of school have any significant influence on the teachers' level of burnout?

2. Review of Literature

The pioneering work on burnout is related to Freudenberger (1974) and Maslach (1976). Since then, a considerable number of studies have been conducted on burnout among various professions in human service sectors in different countries (Maslach & Jackson, 1982). Teacher burnout, in particular, has received a high amount of attention for being an extremely stressful profession (Friedman, 2000; Howard & Johnson, 2004; and Young & Yue, 2007). …

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