The Self-perceptions of NNESTs in Saudi Arabian Public Schools Regarding Their Teaching Abilities and Their Views About English Language-in-education Policy
Alharbi, Habib Khalaf G
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There is growing literature on non-native English speaking teachers (NNESTs) which challenges the dichotomy between NNESTs and native English speaking teachers (NESTs). In a global context, where non-standard varieties of English (World Englishes) are widely used, and where English is increasingly used as an international lingua franca, discriminating against non-native English teachers on account of their accent or their use of non-standard grammar is no longer tenable, especially when they are often more qualified to teach English than many NESTs. One strand of this research is the self-perceptions of NNESTs of their ability to teach English. This study has two purposes. The main purpose is to investigate the self-perceptions of NNESTs who teach English language in intermediate and secondary public schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a ‘local’ context that is largely missing from the NNEST literature. The second aim is to investigate these Saudi NNESTs’ views about English language-in-education policy in Saudi Arabia and how policy impacts their day-to-day practice. The study used an online survey that collected quantitative data related to the two research goals. The survey also included demographic questions that sought to uncover the characteristics of these Saudi NNESTs. One hundred and nine Saudi English teachers in Riyadh were surveyed. Data analysis used both descriptive statistics and correlational analysis. The results showed that these Saudi NNESTs are a very homogeneous cohort, culturally and linguistically. In the public school system in Riyadh there was a notable absence of NESTs, largely due to cultural and linguistic barriers. These teachers’ self-perceptions about their teaching skills were not matched by an annual Ministry of Education assessment which indicated that almost all were very competent teachers. The findings also showed that these teachers’ self-perceptions are mainly independent from the demographic variables, suggesting that intra-psychological variables, such as personality and intelligence, are likely to moderate self-perceptions. These Saudi NNESTs were also largely dissatisfied with current English language-in-education policy, but which aspects of policy and how policy impacts on practice remains a topic for further study. Recommendations for further research also include the use of a mixed methods approach, which would also be able to collect qualitative data and take a more interpretative approach to the research questions.