Characteristics of Good Foreign Language Educators Across Cultural Boundaries

  • Marek DerenowskiEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


Identifying the characteristics of high-quality foreign language teachers has been a matter that has occupied researchers and teacher trainers for decades, resulting in an assortment of diverse sets of qualities presented in various publications. However, these sets of characteristics differ depending on the cultural context they exist in. The role and position of a teacher are closely linked to existing cultural values which impact the ways educators and students are supposed to behave. Furthermore, educational objectives are often perceived in diverse ways. Nevertheless, the author of this article strongly believes that despite flagrant culture-related differences, there exist culture-indifferent characteristics of effective teachers which may be either transferred between cultures or rediscovered in one’s native cultural reality. Therefore, the first part of the chapter tackles Western and Eastern educational philosophies and the most striking, culture-based differences between foreign language teacher characteristics in Eastern and Western cultures. The study described in the following section aimed at identifying the characteristics of good foreign language teachers that pertain to every cultural environment or that may transcend from one culture to another. The data was gathered with the use of interviews. The final section contains conclusions and suggestions for further research.


Good language teacher Reflectivity Motivation Teacher development Cultural differences 


  1. Ackgöz, F. (2005). A study on teacher characteristics and their effects on students’ attitudes. The Reading Matrix, 5(2), 103–143.Google Scholar
  2. Aminuddin, H., & Syuhada, N. (2010). Approaches and values in two gigantic educational philosophies: East and West. Online Educational Research Journal, 1, 1–15.Google Scholar
  3. Auerbach, E. (2001). Yes but …: Problematizing participatory ESL pedagogy. In P. Campbell & B. Burnaby (Eds.), Participatory practices in adult education (pp. 267–307). Mahwah, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Aultman, L., Williams-Johnson, M., & Schutz, P. (2009). Boundary dilemmas in teacher-student relationships: Struggling with the line. Teacher and Teacher Education, 25, 636–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baruth, L. G., & Manning, M. L. (1992). Multicultural education of children and adolescents. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  6. Biggs, J. B. (1996). Learning, schooling, and socialization: A Chinese solution to a Western problem. In S. Lau (Ed.), Growing up the Chinese way: Chinese child and adolescent development (pp. 147–167). Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bond, M. H. (1991). Beyond the Chinese face: Insights from psychology. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Carr, D. (2005). Personal and interpersonal relationships in education and teaching: A virtual ethical perspective. British Journal of Educational Studies, 53(3), 255–271.Google Scholar
  9. Chan, K. L., & Chan, C. L. W. (2005). Chinese culture, social work education and research. International Social Work, 48(4), 381–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chory, R. M., & McCroskey, J. C. (1999). The relationship between teacher management communication style and affective learning. Communication Quarterly, 27, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cohen, R. (1997). Negotiating across cultures: Communications obstacles in international diplomacy. Washington DC: US Institute of Peace Press.Google Scholar
  12. Derenowski, M. (2011). Reflective teachers in the modern educational context. Konin: PWSZ Konin Press.Google Scholar
  13. Elliot, T. S. (1927). Shakespeare and the stoicism of Seneca. Selected essays (pp. 126–140). London: Faber.Google Scholar
  14. Erickson, F. (1982). Classroom discourse as improvisation: Relationships between academic task structure and social participation structure in lessons. In L. C. Wilkinson (Ed.), Communicating in the classroom (pp. 153–181). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fontana, D. (1988). Psychology for teachers. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Freire, J. (2017, June 28). Retrieved from
  17. Gao, M., & Liu, Q. (2013). Personality traits of effective teachers represented in the narratives of American and Chinese preservice teachers: A cross-cultural comparison. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 3(2), 84–95.Google Scholar
  18. Gomez, M. L., Allen, A., & Clinton, K. (2004). Cultural models of care in teaching: a case study of one pre-service secondary teacher. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 473–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Graham, E. E., West, R., & Schaller, K. A. (1992). The association between the relational teaching approach and job satisfaction. Communication Reports, 5, 11–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gurney, P. (2007). Five factors for effective teaching. New Zealand Journal of Teacher’ s Work, 4(2), 89–98.Google Scholar
  21. Hare, W. (1993). Humility as a virtue in teaching. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 26(2), 227–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hargreaves, A. (2001). Emotional geographies of teaching. Teachers College Records, 103(6), 1056–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hassan, A. Jamaludin, J. Sulaiman, & Baki, R. (2017, June 28). Western and eastern educational philosophies. Retrieved from
  24. Hofstede, G. (1997). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  25. Hussin, S. (1996). Pendidikan Di Malaysia: Sejarah, Sistem, dan Falsafah. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.Google Scholar
  26. Jianhua, F. (2017, June 28). Asian-american children: What teachers should know. ERIC Digest. Retrieved from
  27. Joyce, L. (2017, June 28). The difference between Western and Eastern education: Education system in need of change? Retrieved from
  28. Joyce, B., & Hodges, R. (1981). Flexibility and repertoire. In B. Joyce, L., Peck, & C. Brown (Eds.), Flexibility in teaching (pp. 280–2990). New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  29. Komorowska, H. (1999). Metodyka nauczania języków obcych [Methodology of foreign language teaching]. Warszawa: WSiP.Google Scholar
  30. Kristof, N. (1995). Japan’s schools: Safe, clean, not so much fun. New York Times. Retrieved from:
  31. Kumaravadivelu, B. (1992). Macrostrategies for the second/foreign language teacher. Modern Language Journal, 76(1), 41–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Leblanc, R. (2017, June 28). Good teaching: The top ten requirements. The Teaching Professor, 12(6). Retrieved from
  33. LeTendre, G. K. (1999). Competitor or Ally? Japan’s Role in American Educational Debates. New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  34. Lin, J., Brantmeier, E., & Bruhn, C. (2008). Transforming education for peace. North Carolina: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  35. Marlowe, M. (2006). Torey Hayden’s teacher lore: A pedagogy of caring. Journal of Education for Teaching, 32(1), 93–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miamoto, M. (2016). Go Rin No Sho [The book of five rings]. CreateSpace Publishing.Google Scholar
  37. Noblit, G. W. (1993). Power and caring. American Educational Research Journal, 30(1), 23–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Onn, C. M. (2009). Lifelong learning/education policy and career design/human resource development—the Singapore experience. Singapore: The Singapore Association for Continuing Education.Google Scholar
  39. Patrick, B., Hisley, J., & Kempler, T. (2010). What’s everybody so excited about? The effects of teacher enthusiasm on student intrinsic motivation and vitality. The Effective Educator, 68(4), 74–93.Google Scholar
  40. Richards, J. C., & Lockhart, C. (1994). Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sawyer, R. K. (2004). Creative teaching: Collaborative discussion as disciplined improvisation. Educational Researcher, 33, 12–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sheorey, R. (2006). Learning and teaching English in India. New Delhi: SAGE.Google Scholar
  43. Spiro, R. J., Feltovich, P. J., Jacobson, M. J., & Coulson, R. L. (1992). Cognitive flexibility, constructivism, and hypertext: Random access instruction for advanced knowledge acquisition in ill-structured domains. In T. M. Duffy & D. H. Jonassen (Eds.), Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation (pp. 57–76). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawerence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  44. Suzuki, S. (2009). Not always so: Practicing the true spirit of Zen. San Francisco: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  45. Tauber, R. T., & Mester, C. S. (1994). Acting lessons for teachers: Using performance skills in the classroom. Westport, CN: Praeger.Google Scholar
  46. Teel, K., & DeBruin-Parecki, A. (2001). Making school count: Promoting urban student motivation and success. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Thornton, L., & McEntee, M. (1995). Learner centered schools as a mindset, and the connection with mindfulness and multiculturalism. Theory Into Practice, 34(4), 250–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ueshiba, M. (1992). The art of peace. Boston: Shambhala Publishing.Google Scholar
  49. Williams, M., & Burden, R. L. (1997). Psychology for teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Wright, R. (2004). Care as the ‘heart’ of prison teaching. The Journal of Correctional Education, 55(3), 191–209.Google Scholar
  51. Wursten, H., & Jacobs, C. (2013). The impact of culture on education. Can we introduce best practices in education across countries? ITIM International, 1, 1–28.Google Scholar

Internet Sources

  1. Access date 05 March 2017.
  2. Access date 05 March 2017.
  3. Access date 05 March 2017.
  4. Access date 05 March 2017.
  5. Access date 05 March 2017.
  6. http// Access date 05 March 2017.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of Applied SciencesKoninPoland

Personalised recommendations