Teacher-level and context-level barriers to using English as a medium of instruction: A systematic review
A systematic review of literature regarding the factors that hinders or challenges preschool teachers’ use of the English language in formal preschool classrooms was undertaken initially in order to summarize the findings of research between 1991 and 2016. Research suggested that various important teacher and context level barriers were barriers. Large number of literature reported preschools teachers’ lack of confidence in using the language as the prevalent barrier, followed by lower than expected proficiency level. The literature alluded to an association between these two teacher barriers. Other teacher context included inability to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners when English was solely used, deficient attitudes and beliefs about the importance of the language thus creating an inherent resistance to use the language in the classroom, and stress related workplace due to overzealous administrators. Context level barriers included time constraints, classroom environment (example, lack of access to resources, large classroom sizes, and lack of parental encouragement towards the use of English), and lack of administrative support.
Achariam, T. (2015). Malaysia has regressed in English. The Sun Daily. Retrieved from http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1414847
Al Darwish, S. (2012). EFL teachers’ background knowledge is the key to learners’ needs. International Education Studies, 5(6), 251-262. http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ies.v5n6p251
Al-Thani, A. & Nasser, R. (2012). Little steps at improving preschool teachers practices through counselling skills in Qatar. International Education Studies, 5(5), 163-172. https://doi.org/10.5539/ies.v5n5p163
Ambotang, A. S., & Hashim, M. H. M. (2010). Hubungan ilim kerja dan stress dalam pengurusan bilik darjah dalam kalangan guru prasekolah (The relation of work environment and stress in classroom management among preschool teachers). Journal of Techno-Social, 2(2), 69-81.
Auleear, O. A. M. (2015). Supporting early oral language skills for preschool ELL and EFL context, Mauritius: Possibilities and challenges. Early Child Development and Care, 185(2), 226-243. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2014.919494
Aveyard, H. (2014). Doing a literature review in health and social care: A practical guide. McGraw-Hill Education (UK). Berkshire: Open University Press.
Bakshsh, S. A. (2016). Using games as a tool in teaching vocabulary to young learners. English Language Teaching, 9(7), 120-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/elt.v9n7p120
Butler, Y. G. (2004). What level of English proficiency do elementary school teachers need to attain to teach EFL? Case studies from Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. TESOL Quarterly, 38(2), 245-278. https://doi.org/10.2307/3588380
Cisneros-Chernour, E. J., Cisneros, A. A., & Moreno, R. P. (2000). Proceedings of Lillian Katz Symposium: Champaign (pp. 139-148). Curriculum reform in Mexico: Kindergarten teachers’ challenges and dilemmas. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED470886.pdf
Čotar Konrad, S., & Kukanja Gabrijelčič, M. (2015). Professional competences of preschool teachers for working with gifted young children in Slovenia. Journal for the Education of Gifted Young Scientists, 3(2), 65-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.17478/JEGYS.2015214279
Cunningham, A. E., Zibulsky, J., & Callahan, M. D. (2009). Starting small: Building preschool teacher knowledge that supports early literacy development. Reading & Writing, 22(4), 487-510. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-009-9164-z
Davies, P. (2004). Systematic reviews and Campbell collaboration. In G. Thomas & R. Pring (Ed.), Evidence-Based Practice in Education. Berkshire: Open University Press.
Dhillon, J. K., & Wanjiru, J. (2013). Challenges and strategies for teachers and learners of English as a second language: The case of an urban primary school in Kenya. International Journal of English Linguistics, 3(2), 14-24. https://doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v3n2p14
Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) in Malaysia. (n.d). In school education: Early childhood and pre-tertiary education. Retrieved from http://www.schoolmalaysia.com/resources/education_system.php
Erden, E. (2010). Problems that preschool teachers face in the curriculum implementation (Doctoral dissertation, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/45361149_Problems_that_preschool_teachers_face_in_the_curriculum_implementation
Fauzy, H. (2015). Kenapa sukar bertutur bahasa Inggeris?[Why is it difficult to converse in English?] Utusan Online. Retrieved from http://www.utusan.com.my/rencana/kenapa-sukar-bertutur-bahasa-inggeris-1.112383
Fern, N. P. & Jiar, Y. K. (2014). Preschool teachers’ beliefs and practices on early literacy instruction. Sains Humanika, 2(4), 139-146. https://doi.org/10.11113/sh.v2n4.481
Fu, C. S. (2015). The effect of emotional labor on job involvement in preschool teachers: Verifying the mediating effect of psychological capital. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 14(3), 145-156.
Gough, D. (2007). Weight of evidence: A framework for the appraisal of the quality and relevance of evidence. In J. Furlong & A. Oancea (Eds.), Applied and Practice-based Research. Special Edition of Research Papers in Education, 22(2), 213-228.
Gultekin, M. (2006). The attitudes of preschool teacher candidates studying through distance education approach towards teaching profession and their perception levels of teaching competency. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 7(3), 184-197. https://doi.org/10.17718/TOJDE.10427
Harden, A. & Gough, D. (2012). Quality and relevance appraisal. In D. Gough, S. Oliver & J. Thomas (Eds.), An introduction to systematic reviews. London: SAGE Publications.
Higgins, J. P. T. & Green, S. (2010). Guide to the contents of a Cochrane protocol and review. In J.P.T. Higgins & S. Green (Eds.), Cochrane handbook of systematic reviews of interventions. Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.
Hsu, C. Y., Liang, J. C., Chai, C. S., & Tsai, C. C. (2013). Exploring preschool teachers' technological pedagogical content knowledge of educational games. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 49(4), 461-479. https://doi.org/10.2190%2FEC.49.4.c
Jantan, H. B., Hamdan, B., Rahim, A., Yahya, F. H., Saleh, H. B., & Ong, M. H. B. A. (2015). Contributing factors on Malaysia preschool teachers' belief, attitude and competence in using play activities. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education, 4(3), 146-154. http://doi.org/10.11591/ijere.v4i3.4505
Jawaid, A. (2014). Benchmarking in TESOL: A study of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013. English Language Teaching 7(8), 23-38. https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v7n8p23
Khairie, H. A. (2013). Why are our English teaching standards so low? Malay Mail Online. Retrieved from
Kocaman, O. & Cansız, G. (2012). Teachers’ beliefs about teaching English to elementary school children. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 55(1), 799-808. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.09.566
Lee, K. Y. (2012). Teaching intercultural English learning/teaching in world Englishes: Some classroom activities in South Korea. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 11(4), 190-205.
Lefebvre, C., Manheimer, E. & Glanville, J. (2010). Searching for studies. In J.P.T. Higgins & S. Green (Eds.), Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of intervention. West Sussex, England: Wiley-Blackwell.
Leung, C. S. S., Lim, S. E. A., & Li, Y. L. (2013). Implementation of the Hong Kong language policy in pre-school settings. Early Child Development and Care, 183(10), 1381-1396. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2013.788816
Machida, T. (2016). Japanese elementary school teachers and English language Anxiety. TESOL Journal, 7(1), 40-66. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.189
Maskit, D. & Firstater, E. (2016). Preschool teachers’ perspective on teaching as profession and pedagogical change. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 30(2), 200-210. https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2016.1143417
Masnan, A. H. & Hashim, N. H. (2014). The teaching skills of beginning preschool teachers. International Journal of Early Childhood Education and Care, 3(1), 46-55.
Mileidis, G. & Sabrina. F. S., (2015). Navigating hybridized language learning spaces through translanguaging pedagogy: Dual language preschool teachers’ languaging practices in support of emergent bilingual children’s performance of academic discourse. International Multilingual Research Journal, 9(1), 7-25. https://doi.org/10.1080/19313152.2014.981775
Ministry of Education. (n.d). Curriculum Development Division. Retrieved from http://www.moe.gov.my/my/profil-jabatan?div=52
Neuman, S. B. (2010). Lessons from my mother: Reflections on the National Early Literacy Panel report. Educational Researcher, 39(4), 301-304. https://doi.org/10.3102%2F0013189X10370475
Ng, M. L. (2015). Difficulties with team teaching in Hong Kong kindergartens. English Language Teaching Journal, 69(2), 188-197. https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccu057
Ntumi, S. (2016). Challenges preschool teachers face in the implementation of the early childhood curriculum in the Cape Coast Metropolis. Journal of Education and Practice, 7(1), 54-62.
O´Connor, D., Green, S., Higgins, J. P. T. (Eds.), (2010). Chapter 5: Defining the review question and developing criteria for including studies. In J. P. T. Higgins & S. Green (Eds.), Cochrane Handbook of Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.
Oliver, S. & Sutcliffe, K. (2012). Describing and analysing studies. In D. Gough, S. Oliver & J. Thomas (Eds.), An Introduction to Systematic Reviews. London: SAGE Publications.
Palviainen, Å., Protassova, E., Mård-Miettinen, K. & Schwartz, M. (2016). Two languages in the air: A cross-cultural comparison of preschool teachers’ reflections on their flexible bilingual practices. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 19(6), 614-630. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2016.1184615
Pandian, A. (2006). What works in the classroom? Promoting literacy practices in English. 3L Journal of Language Teaching, Lingustics and Literature, 11(15-39).
Petticrew, M. & Roberts, H. (2006). Systematic reviews in the social Sciences. A practical guide. Blackwell Publishing. John Wiley & Sons.
Popay, J., Roberts, H., Sowden, A., Petticrew, M., Arai, L., Rodgers, M., & Britten, N. (2006). Guidance on the conduct of narrative synthesis in systematic reviews. ESRC Methods Programme.
Puteh, S. N. & Ali, A. (2013). Preschool teachers’ perceptions towards the use of play-based approach in language and literacy development for preschool. Malaysian Journal of Learning and Instruction, 10 (1), 79-98.
Radziah M. D. (2013). Early childhood education, the Malaysian perspective. Retrieved from
Rethza, S. B. S. A. & Jamaluddin, S. (2010). Preschool teachers’ assessment practices, knowledge and perceptions in selected districts. Jurnal Pendidikan, 30 (1), 127-157.
Sak, R., Erden, F. T. & Morrison, G. S. (2016). Child centred education: Preschool teachers’ beliefs and self-reported practices. Early Child Development and Care, 186(8), 1185-1202. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2015.1081185
Sandra du P. & Brenda, L. (2008). Challenges to preschool teachers in learner’s acquisition of English as Language of Learning and Teaching. South African Journal of Education, 28, 53-75. https://doi.org/10.4314/SAJE.V28I1.25145
Selvaraj, A. M. (2013). Need for more routes to teach English. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2013/09/22/need-for-more-routes-to-teach-english/
Shaari, M. F., & Ahmad, S. S. (2016). Physical learning environment: Impact on children school readiness in Malaysian preschools. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 222, 9-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.05.164
Stakanova, E. & Tolstikhina, E. (2014). Different approaches to teaching English as a foreign language to young learners. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 146, 456-460. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.08.154
Tunku Mohani, T.M., Swaran Singh, C.K., Abdullah, N.Y. & Mazyani Mat (2015). Developing the speaking skill among ESL elementary learners. The Asian Journal of English Language and Language, 3(1), 161-180.
Tuula, V., Anette, S., Sonja, S. & Pia, W. (2014). Preschool teachers’ view on competence in the context of home and preschool collaboration. Early Child Development and Care, 184(1), 149-159. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2013.773992
Vellutino, F. R., Tunmer, W. E., Jaccard, J. J., & Chen, R. (2007). Components of reading ability: Multivariate evidence for a convergent skills model of reading development. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11(1), 3-32.
Vivian, T. O., Sheriffa, M., Vandyck E. S. T. D., David, K. K. & Nana A. A. T., (2015). Mother tongue usage in Ghanaian pre-schools: Perceptions of parents and teachers. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(34), 81-87.
Walker, K. E. (2015). Preschool teachers’ constructions of early reading. Texas Journal of Literacy Education 3(2), 89-100.
Wong, W. C. (2014). Barking up the wrong tree. The STAR Online. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/on-the-beat/2014/11/23/
Copyright (c) 2020 UPSI Press, Malaysia
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.