Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Taylor, Shelley K.


This study investigated the hiring criteria and employability of ESL/EFL instructors in Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in higher education. It also explored challenges facing instructors and program administrators in today’s global TESOL job market, and how they both tackled these challenges. The study drew on intersectionality and Critical Race Theory and a qualitative methodological approach to answer the research questions. The research methods included an online questionnaire, analyses of online job advertisements and instructors’ journal reflections, and interviews with instructors and program administrators.

The findings indicate that educational qualifications, and teaching experience and certification constituted the primary hiring criteria in both countries. Also, changes in the job markets were identified including changes related to Covid-19, hiring dynamics, the use of the term “native-speaker”, and degree inflation. In addition, instructors underscored challenges they faced in the job market (i.e., limited job opportunities, job precarity, and instances of discrimination), and how they countered them by highlighting their “non-native” status and being agentive and critical of discriminatory practices. Program administrators’ voices crystalized in supporting instructors by being proactive and critical of these discriminatory acts.

This study underscored instructors’ and program administrators’ voices in the TESOL field by offering them the opportunity to tell their stories. The findings suggest instructors and program administrators hold comparable views, which can lay the foundation for future discussions of professional certification, and equivalency requirements, and the value of international experience and education. These findings highlight several research gaps that merit future exploration.

Summary for Lay Audience

This study explored the job market in universities and colleges in Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It investigated three research questions focusing on the hiring requirements in both countries and the experiences of program administrators and English instructors who speak English as an additional language. The goal of the study was to underline the similarities and differences between both job markets and the changes in the Canadian and Emirate contexts. Another goal was to underscore the opportunities instructors have in the field and challenges they face and how they counter them. In addition, the study investigated what affects program administrators’ decisions when hiring English instructors.

To achieve these goals, the researcher analyzed job advertisements for English teaching positions in Canada and the UAE and interviewed instructors and program administrators. Instructors were also asked to complete an online questionnaire and a journal reflection. The data collected from instructors and program administrators were analyzed to answer the research questions by creating categories and comparing them in the two contexts and between both groups (i.e., Instructors and administrators). The critical nature of the study required using a critical lens, which was provided by Critical Race Theory (CRT) and intersectionality. CRT is a theory that focuses on the relation between race, power, and power relations. Intersectionality is a concept, which focuses on how the relation between different elements (i.e., Race, gender, nationality, etc.) can affect individuals’ experiences. These concepts formed the base for understanding the data collected and participants’ experiences and stories.

The results of the study highlighted the main hiring criteria used in the job market, such as teaching experience, educational requirements, teaching certification, and high proficiency in the English language. There was an agreement between instructors’ and program administrators’ views; however, a minor disagreement emerged related to Canadian versus international experience and teaching certification. Based on the findings of the study, it is important to start a dialogue between instructors and administrators to clarify any misunderstandings or disagreements. Also, it is hoped that these findings facilitate instructors’ employment experiences by highlighting administrators’ expectations and job market’s requirements.