Good ESL teachers: from the perspectives of teachers & adult learners



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This dissertation is a qualitative study in which the perceptions of ESL teachers and adult ESL students were elicited via a series of interviews regarding what they believe renders an ESL teacher good. The participant’s portrayals of good ESL teachers included a description of the individual differences that distinguish between good and ineffective ESL teachers as well as the pedagogical practices of these teachers. ESL teacher and student participants’ perceptions did not always match. Five individual differences were described by participants: (1) a respectful professional, (2) a caring educator, (3) a cultural mediator, (4) a patient instructor, and (5) a native speaker. In addition, the participants described eleven pedagogical practices of good ESL teachers: (1) allowing personalized speaking time in class, (2) teaching authentic language & culture, (3) engaging students, (4) negotiating the curriculum, (5) conducting an organized class, (6) demonstrating subject area knowledge, (7) integrating content areas, (8) building learner autonomy, (9) Building learner confidence, (10) catering to learners’ cognitive learning styles, and (11) tolerating ambiguity. This study fills a gap in the literature on good teachers by presenting the perceptions held by both students and teachers of good ESL teachers in particular. Implications are drawn that may be of interest to ESL teachers, language teachers in general, language programs, as well as language teacher training departments.