Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies (Print ISSN: 1078-4950; Online ISSN: 1532-5822)

Case Reports: 2019 Vol: 25 Issue: 4

Students Perception of Native and International Lecturers of English Language a Case of Selected Universities in the Kingdom of Cambodia

Channy, Beijing Normal University

Ogunniran, Moses Oladele, Beijing Normal University


This research investigated the Cambodian students’ perception on Native Cambodian Lecturers of English Language (NCLsEL) and International Lecturers of English Language (ILsEL) in Higher Education Institutions in the Kingdom of Cambodia. In order to get deeper insight and outcome of perceptions, this paper was carried out with 100 students who were randomly selected from two famous Cambodian universities namely Norton University and Phnom Penh International University. Quantitative and Qualitative methodologies were used to collect data by means of students’ designed questionnaire. The results indicated that the majority of Cambodian students prefer to have classes with Cambodian Lecturers in their first general perceptions. In addition, the finding also illustrated that there were very small differences in terms of four main factors that attempted to draw their opinions and perceptions toward local and international lecturers. Those categories, consisted of 30-item designed questionnaire on In-class teaching roles, In-class management roles, In-class communication roles, and Individual features, provided comparable scores of both groups. Moreover, it finalized that the majority of the sample respondents chose Cambodian lecturers because of their ability to use students’ language for some difficult explanations; understand the students’ feelings, needs and culture; promote friendly learning; offer closer interaction; easy to communicate with; calm; well-educated; good advice; and they also concluded with the knowledge of pedagogy and variety of teaching strategies. However, the respondents who chose International Lecturers stated that international lecturers have the ability and experiences of using English language in teaching as well as communicating from one country to another. The students also mentioned that they are well-prepared, punctual and able to provide friendly learning environment.


Students’ Perception of Native and International Lecturers, English Language Lecturers, Kingdom of Cambodia Universities


The world is getting closer, and due to globalization the use of language in communication is dramatically increasing. The most common form of “Global Contact” language (lingua franca) has become “a language of cultural importance, and in a growing number of fields, English is now considered in many quarters to be a basic requirement in the labour market” (Modiano, 2009). It pointed out that English will be used in worldwide and no longer to be said that it belongs to only the native speaking countries such as England or the United States. According to Brown, 2013 “these countries are no longer the keepers of the “standard variety”, which refers to whatever form of the English language is accepted as a national norm in an Anglophone country, for the English language, as ‘foreign’ speakers have as much right of influence over the language as ‘native’ ones.” However, people could know the country or what kind of a person they are speaking with because of the link between the emergence of new identities and social status (Brown, 2013). The distinction between the terms Native Cambodian Lecturers of English Language, Native/Non-native or International Lecturers of English Language, and English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) applied in incorrect context could be defined as confusing. As one of the countries that belong to the ‘Expanding Circle’ within Kachru’s framework, Cambodia also values language learning in all its institutions. To provide more educational standard, both public and private university administrators have turned to become interested in upgrading the international Standard English language in the curriculum. With English as the major concern, many universities in Cambodia, where English is not an official language, aim to promote international competition and attract more students. Their objective is also to prepare their students for a place in the ASEAN Community as well as the global industrial and scientific marketplace. The modalities for upgrading study programs to be instructed in English have been specified clearly. In order to cope with the demand for English language teachers, regardless of their qualifications, many more International Lecturers of English Language (ILsEL) have been employed at universities in Cambodia. The result is Cambodian students are taught by both international and indigenous lecturers. Because of this variety, the number of ILsEL might influence significantly on the opinions of university students. The controversial challenges will occur as a result of increasing the status of this important international language in Cambodia. The majority of discussions also observe the terms of teaching skills, individual features/qualities, social relationship, and linguistic competence of both NCLsEL and ILsEL. The study of comparing students’ perception of NCLsEL and ILsEL is an issue which has recently been popular for the academic research (Lasagabaster & Sierra, 2002); (Torres, 2004); (Cheung, 2007); (Liu & Zhang, 2007); (Üstünoğlu, 2007); (Todd & Pojanapunya, 2009); (Hertel & Sunderman, 2009); (Demir, 2011); (Alseweed, 2012); (Alshahrani, 2014); (Nawrasy, 2013); (Jodia, 2014). Such studies have not only clarified the opinions about Local, Non-native, and Native but also furnished related information for program designers and policy makers. In spite of the increasing number of proficient Native Cambodian Lecturers of English which has become irrelevant to the preference of International Lecturers of English Language, the International Lecturers still continue to hold their privileged position in English language teaching. While the International Lecturers, especially the Native ones role-play as the model speakers, the Native Cambodians who are the local lecturers are valued with a lower status than ILsEL (Clark & Paran 2007).

In the Cambodian context, the study of whatever the view adopted on the topic of Cambodian and International lecturers issue still raises tremendous interest in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). There was the notion that NCLsEL and ILsEL in Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) in the Kingdom of Cambodia had difficulties and faced challenges in the implementation of teaching in their classes while there are differences in the students’ perception on their English language lecturers. This study attempted to investigate the students’ perception specifically sought to answer the following questions:

1. What are Cambodian students’ perception of Native Cambodian Lecturers of English Language (NCLsEL) and International Lecturers of English Language (ILsEL) in terms of teaching and learning English as a Foreign Language?

2. What factors determine how Cambodian university students perceive (NCLsEL) and (ILsEL)?

3. Which of the two (NCLsEL or ILsEL) do Cambodian students believe motivate them to learn English as a Foreign Language more?

The Native Speaker

The first pre-question is raised by Davies: “The concept of a Native speaker seems clear enough, doesn’t it?” According to Bloomfield, a structural linguist, the Native Speakers’ definition “the first language a human being learns to speak is his native language; he is a native speaker of this language”. However, by regarding Bloomfield’s definition, Cook stated that a Native Speaker is “an unalterable historic fact; individuals cannot change their native language any more than they can change who brought them up” On the other hand, “birth” is the most oft-cited term that Native Speaker regards to where a person is born in Medgyes who wrote [among the criteria for “native speaker hood”]. At the same time, another researcher, Heller, claimed that the state of boundaries also has influenced the construction of standardized languages “and understood to be the distinctive property of nations”. Therefore, the people who were born into a specific official language in a country will have knowledge of that language as their native (Bloomfield, 1933); (Cook, 1999); (Medgyes, 2001); (Heller, 2008) as cited in (Ferguson, 2013). In order to give a proof of this statement, here is an example: if someone was born in England they were assumed to be a Native Speaker of English or if someone was born in Cambodia, that person was assumed to be a Native Speaker of Cambodian.

However, globalization can effectively increase the number of plurilingual and pluricultural speakers around the world. Ferguson (2013) concluded that, for the recent researches in today’s changing world, the national identity as well as the place of birth and also the first language of speech are the simple criteria of Native Speakers. The relationship between first language, nationality and birth is complex. It is argued that only part of the picture in conjuring up is a vision of the Native Speakers.

Native Speakers as Teachers

In the idea of defining the term professionally, Native Speaker, has variety of explanations. The definition is Native speaker: a person who has learned a language from an early age and who has full mastery of the language. Native speakers may differ in terms of vocabulary and stylistic aspects of language use, but they tend to agree on basic grammar of the language (Lightbown & Spada, 1999) as cited in (Torres, 2004). It is assumed that Native Speaker is the model of English Language Teachers who most of students enjoy learning with. According to Timmis, most textbooks and teaching and learning materials, the conversations as well as listening comprehension are acted by the model of Native English Speakers and the other speakers. Therefore, the learners prefer the NES’s norm in their role play with the other students. At the same time, (Brain & Canagarajah, 1999) also stated that Native Speakers are the sources of knowledge about language while many students think that they are the model language teachers, so they would like to study with them. It is true in the real practice of learning because students can benefit the perfect knowledge of language especially pronunciation by directly interacted speaking (Clark & Paran 2007).

However, in terms of ownership, English is not the exclusive possession of someone. There are also some objections regarding to the Native teachers. Cook (1999), assumed a fact that language competence of standard conceptualization of monolingual Native speakers is very different to L2 speakers who are bilingual speakers of multi-competences. According to Rampton (1990) as cited in Torres (2004), the explanation can offer alternative ideas that “educationalists…should speak of accomplished users as expert rather than as native speakers”. Moreover, in the survey with different nationalities of teachers from 10 countries, Reves and Medgyes (1994) as cited in Clark & Paran (2007) reported that the differences in language proficiency could influence the differences in teaching styles of both NES and NNES. In that study, the respondents did not agree that NES teachers are more fluent speakers or automatically better teachers. However, they believed that the empathetic, well-prepared and more knowledgeable are NNES teachers.

1. The Non-Native Speaker

2. In general, the term Non-native may be defined as a teacher.

3. For whom English is a second or foreign language.

4. Who works in an EFL and ESL environment?

5. Whose students are monolingual groups of learners?

6. Who speaks the same native language as his or her students Medgyes (2001)

The term, Non-native English speaking teachers/lecturers (NNESTs/NNESLs), seems quite hurtful because of nativeness, accent and proper language competency. They have been regarded as the deficient of language and knowledge and not accepted by the dominant linguistic group. However, Piler was successful in his conducted studies on looking into people who have successfully learned an additional language, even late in life, and have been able to ‘pass’ as NSs. Additionally, Davies also claimed that the non-native teacher who holds the sign of second language learners could become Native Speakers in case of taking part in exceptional learning, higher education, and he ended with the rare and difficult case “by virtue of being a native user (the post-colonial case)” and “through residence in the adopted country” (Ferguson 2013). On the other hand, it will not be good and may become problematic if the world prefers Native Speakers only.

Non-Native English Speakers as Teachers

Generally, the term of Non-native English Speaking Teachers (NNESTs) has been created to divide the professional career in the ELT profession. The team of professional creators believed that there are different strengths of both Native and Non-native English Speakers and educators. Therefore, it is not too strange to understand the necessity of distinguishing them. The learners who always oppose the term believe that the strengths of Natives depend on the high status of perpetuating dominance on Non-native in field of ELT that still have discrimination in hiring practice. In order to explore this idea, there was an investigation on the status of Non-native English Speaking Teachers as ESL teachers in the USA. Mahbood examined the hiring practices of the administrators of 118 college-level adult English language programs by using a structured questionnaire. The result found that the number of NNESTs teaching ESL in the United States is low (only 7.9% of the teachers employed at these programs). He attributed the low figure to the preference given by most (59.8%) program administrators to “Native English Speakers” in hiring practices Mahboob (2003) as cited in (Alseweed, 2012). The term Native Fallacy, an unequal treatment, made many Non-natives find themselves as lower compared to their colleagues in the same working places. Suarez (2000) builds another term for them called “I-am-not-a-native-speaker syndrome”. Non-native teachers’ self-esteem as well as the individuals’ performance has been catastrophically affected by perceiving this terminology. By regarding their educational level, Kim (2002), stated that some NNESTs have really suffered from lack of confidence in their language proficiency. However, he continued that they can confidentially become great teachers, if they have English language fluency. So the term will not affect their qualification as teachers anymore. It depends on how proficient you are; “real proficiency is when you are able to take possession of the language, turn it to your advantage, and make it real for you. So you, NNESTs, can take ownership of English and be aware of not to be trapped in an inferiority complex” (Alseweed, 2012).

Purpose and Significance of the Study:

1. To explore the general perceptions of university students about NCLsEL and ILsEL in the Kingdom of Cambodia;

2. To identify the teaching activities of NCLsEL as well as ILsEL in the classroom.

3. To find out whether Cambodian university students believe in the NCLsEL or ILsEL.

4. To know more about what motivate student to learn English as a Foreign Language

The topic of this recently popular research is important for some certain reasons. First, the study could assist the local institutions that lack critical information about the Native Cambodian and International English language lecturers. Therefore, the universities might not apply misunderstanding concept among them. Secondly, the findings of this research may help university administrators and human resource departments to understand students’ expectation, perception, and motivation. Moreover, this investigation would arouse other local researches because it may serve as one of few empirical studies aimed to observe Cambodian students’ perception of their learning preferences for both NCLsEL and ILsEL in the Kingdom of Cambodia. At the same time, the information from this study could also be helpful to the young ESL/EFL learners as the reference to potentially understand the differences between NCLsEL and ILsEL and also help them in making career decisions by finding out the better understanding with English language teaching as a career. Finally, the study might provide both NCLsEL and ILsEL who seek professional development the opportunity to gain some insights, develop a clear view of their future aspirations, and clarify perceptions by making them more explicit from the findings and take them into consideration in teaching English language in Cambodia and elsewhere.


This study investigated the perceptions as well as the attitude toward the Cambodian and International lecturers of English language by means of structured questionnaire from the respondents providing both Quantitative and Qualitative data collection approach. This mixed-method form encouraged and provided the respondents broader perceptions by openly highlighting their detailed opinions and attitude to support the quantitative address. It also allowed the researcher to draw on all possibilities to address and describe the qualitative receiving data which might be impossible to interpret by some soft-ware programs. In order to get deeper insight and outcome of perceptions, this paper was carried out with 100 students who were randomly selected from two Cambodian universities namely Norton University and Phnom Penh International University in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Literature Review

Everyone has their own experiences of learning. Native speakers have acquired English language from the first word of speech; they live and learn in English speaking environment. Becoming a teacher, he or she has excellent accent as a native but never has experience of studying other languages. However, Non-natives, who have learnt English as the target language, know the difficulty from their experiment. Phillipson argues that NNESTs could have potential ability to acquire English as an additional language which is their first-hand experience in learning and using a second language. They could have knowledge of linguistic and cultural experiment that will include the students’ needs. He concluded “many NNESTs, especially those who have the same first language as their students, have developed a keen awareness of the differences between English and their students’ mother tongue. This sensitivity gives them the ability to anticipate their students’ linguistic problems and places them at an advantage in teaching English.” (Phillipson, 1996) as cited in (Alseweed, 2012). Moreover, Milambling (1999) agreed; non-native speakers “have had the experience of learning English themselves”. So they could transfer knowledge in better ways. According to Cook (1999), Non-native might be deficient or fail compared to the Native one. However, NNS is a multi-competent language teacher who could become a successful second language user. Moreover, there was a study of an instructor participating on teacher self-perceptions resulting in the different concepts between both Native and Non-native teachers Liu (1999b). Some respondents answered that a Non-native speaker studied English as a target language not as the initial language or mother tongue while the other described that a Non-native speaker used their own language as mother tongue not English. In the same study, other teachers stated that English is a target language competency which is full of problems and continuum. The same researcher, Liu (1999a), argued that the students’ perception might be definitely different from, or completely appositive to, the teachers’ self-perceptions related to term Non-native.

The Non-native teacher could be an excellent user of their L1 performance, but “non-native speakers can never be as creative and original as those whom they have learnt to copy” (Medgyes, 1992). He also continued that the Non-native speakers could be successful and effectively achieved their goal in the classroom equally. His motivation serve for the Non-native “imitable models of the successful learner of English…..[and]…can be more empathetic to the needs and problems of their learners”. They agreed with the statement from another researcher, (Phillipson 1992).

The Difference between Native and Non-native in ELT

Native and Non-native lecturers hold different special characteristics that might influence the different teaching behavior. First of all, let us take a look at the attribution of their possession below:

1. Subconscious knowledge of rules.

2. Intuitive grasp of meaning.

3. Ability to communicate within social setting.

4. Rang of language skills.

5. Creativity of language use.

6. Identification with a language community.

7. Ability to produce fluent discussion.

8. Knowledge of differences between their own speech and that of the ‘standard form of the language.

9. Ability ‘to interpret and translate into the L1 of which she/he is a Native speaker’ (Stern, 1983; Johnson & Johnson 1998; Davies 1996 as cited in Cook, 1999)

On the other hand, Non-native teachers could also possess their own excellent characteristics as in the following points:

1. Good role model.

2. Effective providers of learning strategies.

3. Suppliers of information about English Language.

4. Better anticipators of language learning difficulties.

5. Sensitive to language learners’ needs.

6. Facilitators of language learning as a result of a shared mother tongue (Medgyes, 2001).

Relevant Comparative Perspectives of Previous Studies

Torres (2004) researched about the preferences of 102 adult students for NESTs or NNESTs. The study showed that the students have a general preference for NESTs over NNESTs, but have stronger preferences for NESTs in teaching specific skill areas such as pronunciation and writing.

Another study by Hertel & Sunderman (2009) investigated 292 undergraduate students’ attitudes toward both group of instructors of Spanish. The study showed that students perceive NSTs to possess advantages over NNSTs. They also observed that with respect to gender, it is also notable that male students rated NSTs more positively than female students.

Similarly, Demir (2011) examined 120 undergraduate students’ perceptions of native speaker teachers (NST) and non-native speaker teachers (NNST) at three universities in Turkey. The researcher preferred to investigate the effect of gender and the previous experience students and also the students’ perceptions on native and non-native speaking teachers related to their “in-class teaching roles, in-class management roles, in-class communication skills, and individual qualities. The research reported that, students perceive NSTs as superior to NNSTs only in terms of in-class teaching roles. In addition to that, male students possessed positive attitudes both towards NSTs and NNSTs. Finally, the study found that number of NSTs that the students previously studied with is an important factor that influenced students’ opinions.

Additionally, Alseweed (2012) observed on 169 Saudi male novice university students to obtain a deeper insight into their perceptions of their native English speaker teachers (NESTs) and non-native English speaker teachers (NNESTs) in the English language classroom at Qassim University. The result showed significant difference in the students' perceptions in favor of NESTs. Students showed more preference for NESTs as they go to higher levels. Previous learners’ experiences may affect their general preference for NESTs since they were taught by both types of teachers. The result also exhibited an explicit preference for NESTs in relation to the teaching strategies adopted. However, the respondents showed moderately favorable attitudes towards NNESTs who provide a serious learning environment and a favorable response to learners' needs.

Another recent study by Nawrasy (2013) was carried out on 196 grade ten students in the Institute of Applied Technology in the UAE about the effect of the native English language teachers in comparison with nonnative English language teachers on students’ achievement in speaking skills. The study found that there was no significant difference among students’ overall speaking achievement test scores amongst 10th graders at (ά = 0.05) due to the native-ness of the teacher. However, the in-depth analysis illustrated that there was a significant correlation between native-ness and pronunciation in favor of the NESTs and a significant correlation between accuracy and native-ness in favor of the NNESTs.

The most recent, Jodia (2014), researched on the level of conformity and non-conformity of 102 Iranian EFL students toward Native speaker’s norms in learning English. The result suggested that the learners expressed their preferences on Native speaker norms which increased their international English language level. However, the researchers remarked that the blind acceptance of Native speaker norms in ELT has come into question.

Data Analysis and Result

General Perceptions on NCLsEL and ILsEL

Apart from the Personal Information part in the questionnaire, part II asked for the general students’ perception of Native Cambodian Lecturers of English Language (NCLsEL) and International Lecturers of English Language (ILsEL) in terms of teaching and learning English as a Foreign Language. The researcher constructed 10 response items to gain respondent’s perception. Table 1 below shows the testified percentages of the participants’ perception and their responses.

Table 1 Cambodian Students' General Perception on NCLsEL and ILsEL
SN Response Items Percentages (%)
1 Understands the students’ language needs 88% 12%
2 Is aware of the students’ culture 85% 15%
3 Encourages students to learn other culture 49% 51%
4 Is very nice and very responsible 54% 46%
5 Has difficulty in understanding students’ questions 21% 79%
6 Encourages students to learn English and other languages 77% 23%
7 Has conscious experiences of the students’ learning styles 87% 13%
8 Provides friendly learning and relaxed environment 49% 51%
9 Knows the English language difficulties for students 68% 32%
10 Makes students have positive attitude to learn 70% 30%

This table has displayed the detailed feedback from the respondents by answering the research question number 1 “What are Cambodian students’ perception of Native Cambodian Lecturers of English Language (NCLsEL) and International Lecturers of English Language (ILsEL) in terms of teaching and learning English as a Foreign Language?” According to the table above, 88% of students believed that (NCLsEL) can understand their language needs while this group of lecturers were also aware of students’ culture as indicated by 85% of the sample. However, 51% of respondents believed in (ILsEL) who can encourage them to learn other cultures. At the same time, the students who also shared similar percentages for statement number 4 (is very nice and very responsible) comprises 54% Cambodian and 46% International teachers. In terms of language difficulties in understanding students’ question, the table showed only 21% of responses toward Cambodian Lecturers while the percentages of their counterpart were highly represented by 79%. In addition, 77% - 87% of the respondents indicated their high preferences on Cambodian Lecturers for the statements of “encourages students to learn English and other languages” and “has conscious experiences of the students’ learning styles” respectively. On the other hand, 51% of the participants asserted their preferences in classes taught by International Lecturers because of providing friendly learning and relaxed environment. Another 68% of the sample proved that Cambodian Lecturers know their English language difficulties. In the same table, the last comment indicated that 70% of respondents believed in NCLsEL who can encourage students to have positive attitude to learn English language while only 30% chose Foreign Teachers. In order to understand deeply, the researcher has included the average of the total 10 mentioned statements in the Figure 1 below.

Figure 1 Cambodian Students' General Perception on NCLsEL and ILsEL

For the results of the total 10 statements together, the figure showed 65% versus 35% for Cambodian and International Lecturers respectively. It means that the majority of year 4 students from the two universities, Norton University and Phnom Penh International University, generally preferred the local lecturers than international lecturers.

Determining Factors on Different Categories

In this section, the students could answer easily depending on their ideas and perceptions on the different determining factors/categories provided. In the survey questionnaire, the researcher had designed four, namely, In-class teaching roles, In-class management roles, In-class communication roles, and the Individual features/qualities. The detailed information from the respondents in this session was gathered to answer the research question number.

“What factors determine how Cambodian university students perceive (NCLsEL) and (ILsEL)?”

To analyze the data collected from the instrument, a number of statistical procedures were carried out by using SPSS descriptive statistics which produced Frequency table including frequency, percent, valid percent, and cumulative percent when computed. The scores were provided according to five levels of Linkert-scales from 1 (strongly disagree), 2 (disagree), 3 (uncertain), 4 (agree), and 5 (strongly agree). It means that the scores 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 were given to strongly disagree, disagree, uncertain, agree, and strongly agree respectively. Finally, the scores were totaled to find out the effective results.

For the first category, In-class teaching roles, the researcher had made up 10 response items to observe respondents’ perception on their teachers’ teaching activities in the classrooms. The questionnaire started from the statement number 1 (Stimulates interest at the start of the lesson) to number 10 (Provides activities to consolidate learning). After careful analyses, the results are shown in the Figure 2 below.

Figure 2 Students’ Perception on in-class Teaching Roles.

From the figure above, it indicates that 51.01% of the sample believed in in-class teaching activities by Cambodian Lecturers. However, there was just a slight difference in percentages between the two groups of lecturers as 48.99% of respondents chose International Lecturers for their In-class teaching roles. For more detail, the researcher analyzed the mean of each statement as shown in the Table 2 below.

Table 2 Mean of Students’ Perception on in-class Teaching Roles
N Statements Mean
1 Stimulates interest at the start of the lesson 3.81 3.73
2 Relates the previous lesson’s work with the current lesson 3.87 3.73
3 Adjusts the content of the lesson to the level of the students 3.93 3.57
4 Uses tools and materials in a timely and appropriate manner 3.81 3.70
5 Stages the lesson coherently 3.94 3.91
6 Implements effective learning methods 3.90 3.78
7 Gives sufficient prompts and cues 4.05 3.77
8 Corrects wrong and incomplete answers effectively 3.92 3.86
9 Checks student achievement of the lesson aims 3.89 3.59
10 Provides activities to consolidate learning 3.90 3.83
  Average 39.02 37.47

According to the above table, the respondents marked 4.05 (agree scale) for Cambodian teachers on giving sufficient prompt and cues while the highest mean score for International teachers is 3.91, which is quite better than uncertain scale, for staging the lesson coherently. Besides, it is seen that most of the mean score for both groups of teachers are likely the same, which inclines closely to 4 point (agree scale) of mean score. In addition to this, International teachers seem to get relative lowest mark on two statements, 3 & 9, as the mean is about 3.5 (uncertain scale). It suggests that International teachers are not really good at alternating the content of the lesson to fit student’s level and fully inspect the student achievement for each lesson. Furthermore, it is noticeable from statement 3, 7 and 9 that indicated the better position for Local teachers and lower position for International teachers.

To analyse the second category, In-class management roles, the researcher had designed 7 statements, which started from number 11 (Is punctual and prompt at arriving in the classroom) to number 17 (Ensures active participation of the students). The result shows in the Figure 3 below.

Figure 3 Students’ Perception on in-class Management Roles.

According to Figure 3 above, for in-class management roles, there is no significant difference between Cambodian and International lecturers. The students showed their preference on Local lecturers with higher percentage of 50.26% while the International counterpart received similar rate of 49.74%. In assumption, respondents were undecided in choosing between the two groups of lecturers or they had the same positive attitude of acceptance to study with both Local and International teachers. In order to clearly understand the differences between each statement’s mean score in this second category, the researcher had calculated and put it in the Table 3 below.

Table 3 Mean of Students’ Perception on in-class Management Roles
N Statements Mean
11 Is punctual and prompt at arriving in the classroom 3.82 4.19
12 Completes the lesson on time 3.92 3.88
13 Is able to maintain order and discipline in the classroom 3.91 3.90
14 Speaks clearly and comprehensibly 4.15 3.65
15 Is well prepared 3.97 3.92
16 Knows his/her topic 3.98 4.01
17 Ensures active participation of the students 3.74 3.66
  Average 27.49 27.21

In this category, the statement number 14 (speaks clearly and comprehensibly) gained the strongest mean score for Cambodian lecturer as indicated by 4.15 point (agree scale). However, respondents seem to downgrade that ability for International teacher representing it by mean score of 3.65 (uncertain scale). At the same time, the students highly agreed that International lecturer is punctual and prompt at arriving in the classroom as well as knowing their topic, with the mean score of 4.19 and 4.01 (agree scale), respectively. They are better than Cambodian teachers at this point. What’s more, both International and Local lecturers did not get relatively good score at ensuring active participation of students, indicating by the mean score of 3.66 and 3.74 (uncertain scale), respectively. In spite of this, other means scores do not suggest one best particular group since the scores on both sides are comparable.

For the third category, In-class communication roles, the researcher had created 5 meaningful statements to investigate the Cambodian university students’ perception on their lecturers’ in-class communication skill in the classroom. The statements started from number 18 (Praises the students wisely) to number 22 (Treats students respectfully). The following Figure 4 shows the result from data analysing.

Figure 4 Students’ Perception on in-class Communication Roles

For in-class communication role, at the same time, the result from frequency analysis also indicated little difference as the gap between results’ percentage was almost the same. The producing figure showed that Cambodian lecturers received higher scores than International Lecturers from the sample which was indicated by 50.81% in favour of Local and 49.19% for International. It can be assumed that both native Cambodian lecturers and International lecturers have equal in-class communication skill. For more details, the Table 4 below shows the different strengths and weaknesses of each statement in terms of In-class communication roles.

Table 4 Mean of Students’ Perception on in-class Communication Roles
N Statements MEAN
18 Praises the students wisely 3.88 3.70
19 Addresses the students by their names 4.18 3.67
20 Makes the lesson enjoyable 3.93 3.93
21 Uses body language effectively 3.93 4.22
22 Treats students respectfully 3.93 3.70
  Average 19.85 19.22

According to the table above, Cambodian teachers received the highest mean score of 4.18 (agree scale) that indicated an agree behaviour on statement number 19. That also illustrated the weak point of the International teacher as they may not practically be addressing students by their names. Mean score of statement number 22 noted that Local teachers treat students respectfully better than International teachers. On the other hand, International teachers got positive feedback on statement number 21 (mean: 4.22), pointing that they are good at using body language compared to the Local teachers.

On the final category, individual features/qualities, the researcher had contrived 8 statements, which started from number 23 (Is cheerful) to the last statement number 30 (Is easygoing). All the responses by the participants were heedfully checked and analyzed. After that, the result was computed as in the following Figure 5.

Figure 5 Students’ Perception on Individual Features/Qualities

The final category, individual features/qualities, which provided the information of general personality, attitude, and competency of Cambodian and Foreign lecturers was exhibited. The statistic illustrated that 51.13% was given to the Local lecturers who still exceeded their counterpart. At the same time, the International lecturers also received comparable scores, 48.87%, to local lecturers. As of that, it represented the parallel individual qualities between Local and Foreign teachers. Equally say, Cambodian university students perceived both Local and International lecturer features/qualities as acceptable. For more detailed information about each mentioned statement, researcher has provided the Table 5 below to draw the different Likert-scales on this final category.

Table 5 Mean of Students’ Perception on Individual Features/Qualities
23 Is cheerful 3.90 3.92
24 Is trustworthy 3.95 3.81
25 Is energetic 3.89 3.99
26 Is respectful 4.11 3.99
27 Is consistent 3.95 4.11
28 Is tolerant 4.06 3.57
29 Is sensitive 4.16 3.59
30 Is easy-going 4.10 3.72
  Average 32.12 30.70

The Table showed that statement 26, 28, 29 and 30 received highly agree scale score at 4.11, 4.06, 4.16, 4.10, respectively for Local teachers. Those statements suggested that local teachers are respectful, tolerant, sensitive and easy-going. However, International teachers got relatively low score on that statement compared to Local teachers. In the same table, the mean score of 4.11 (agree scale), statement 27 was the highest point for International lecturers, which showed that International lecturers are more consistent than local teachers.

In short, Cambodian Lecturers were always given higher preferences than International Lecturers in all four factors/categories. Though, International Lecturers were also rated remarkably by respondents which show no big gap between the two lecturer groups. At last, they both received honest notice simultaneously.

The Selection of NCLsEL and ILsEL

The final section of the designed questionnaire was named part IV. In this final part, the respondents had to choose one between Cambodian and International lectures by giving detailed explanation or reasons for that selection. This qualitative criterion was created to answer the research question number 3 “Whom do you believe in to learn more: with Cambodian or with International lecturers? Why?” To answer this question, the students were provided not only to choose their preferred teacher but also to share and express their detailed reasons to support their selection. The Figure 6 shows the percentages of Cambodian and International Lecturers who were selected by the sample.

Figure 6 Students’ Choices on NCLsEL and ILsEL.

It is illustrated that the percentages of Cambodian Lecturers were still higher than International Lecturers. 60% of Cambodian students chose Cambodian Lecturers for their final decision whilst the rest selected International lecturers, such that the result suggested that there is remarkable score of Cambodian university students who prefer to have class with International Lecturers.

According to the responses, the most repeated reasons observed was that Cambodian Lecturers have ability to give clearer explanation. That is, Cambodian Lecturers can use the students’ language in order to explain deeply and clearly when the students do not understand the instruction in English. Understand the students’ feeling, needs, and culture were also the most popular answer by the sample. To respond to the item: why did she choose Cambodian Lecturers, students from PPIU revealed the following information:

“I think that Khmer teachers are better because they can understand our situation, needs, culture, and habit of learning. Moreover, Khmer teachers can explain some parts that we don’t understand in our language.” (PPIU student, April 06, 2015).

Similarly, another student from NU also indicated high preference on the local lecturers as follows:

“The teachers whom I believe to learn with are Cambodian teachers because they can teach both languages at the same time. They can speak Khmer when the students don’t understand the task’s instruction. The students can get clear explanation, and then they can do the task well.” (NU student, April 5, 2015).

One more similar notice by a student from PPIU also stated his reason follow:

“In my point of view, I prefer to study with Cambodian Lecturers than Foreign Lecturers. I think that sometimes, studying with Foreign Lecturers, it is difficult to understand each other; while studying with Cambodian Lecturers, it is easier to understand. Moreover, they know about the students’ culture, needs, behavior and so on.” (PPIU student, April 6, 2015).

Additionally, the students who believed in studying with Cambodian Lecturers stated the reasons of their choice as promote friendly learning, offer closer interaction, easy to communicate with, well-educated, calm, and good advice. For example, one student from NU stated follow:

“According to my knowledge and observation, I believe to have class with Cambodian Lecturers. I can enjoy friendly learning, good communication, and I feel very free to talk with them. They are highly educated and responsible teachers.” (NU student, April 5, 2015).

Furthermore, another student from PPIU also wrote follow:

“I prefer to study with Cambodian Lecturers because they very friendly, flexible, and well-educated teachers. Moreover, they always care about their students and help them a lot. They always give their good advice whenever they meet not only inside school but also outside too.” (PPIU students, April 6, 2015).

The other acceptable explanations which were found in the respondents’ hand writing were knowledge of Pedagogy and variety of teaching strategies. These reasons constituted the vital conclusion from the sample. Below are the common ideas of students from both universities:

“I think that Cambodian teachers are better because they have ability to know about the students’ thinking. In addition, they have knowledge of Pedagogy and also have acceptable higher degree both from the local and international universities.” (PPIU student, April 6, 2015).

“For me, I want to study with Khmer teachers. They have a lot of experiences and understand the students’ level of knowledge. So they can use varieties of techniques, skills and strategies in teaching. As a result, students can get and improve their knowledge faster.” (NU student, April 5, 2015).

Simultaneously, International Lecturers also had many supporters who need their participation. The most repeated notes stated that International Lecturers have experiences in using English Language. To respond to the item: why did he choose International Lecturers, a student from NU revealed the following information:

“I prefer Foreign Teachers because they have a lot of experiences in using English language and their English is the international standard. They have good techniques to teach to improve students’ speaking skill especially. They feel confident in teaching.” (NU student, April 6, 2015)

A similar high level of integrative preference was expressed by another student in the following way:

“I think Foreign Teachers are better than Cambodian Teachers. Most of them are well-educated teachers and have good background of using English language. They use English as the way of communication from one country to another. It could be better to enhance and improve my speaking skill.” (PPIU student, April 5, 2015).

Additionally, being punctual, well-prepared, and friendly in teaching and learning were also the popular reasons written by the respondents. A student from NU mentioned follow:

“The lecturers whom I prefer to learn with are International Lecturers. They always come on time to the class. Moreover, they prepare a lot of teaching materials and documents. In other words, the International Lecturers are punctual and well-prepared. In addition, they always provide friendly learning environment that make students feel happy to learn. Finally, in class they always wear suitable clothes and feel very confident in teaching.” (NU student, April 6, 2015).


This study aimed to investigate the Cambodian university students’ perception of Native Cambodian Lecturers of English Language (NCLsEL) and International Lecturers of English Language (ILsEL) in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The findings revealed that the majority of Cambodian students prefer to have class with Cambodian Lecturers in their first general perceptions.

A vital contribution of this research to the existing literature is that, it provides evidence for different determining factors on Cambodian students’ perception. In this case, the respondents illustrated similar positive attitude toward both groups of lecturers. The results indicated that there were very small differences in terms of four main factors that aimed to draw their opinions and perceptions toward Local and International lecturers. Those categories, consisting of In-class teaching roles, In-class management roles, In-class communication roles, and Individual features/qualities, provided comparable scores for both groups.

Another important contribution of this study is that, it investigated the selection of the students’ options to choose which lecturers they would like to learn with and possible reasons behind their choices. It discovered that the majority of the sample respondents chose to study with Cambodian lecturers because of their ability to use students’ language for some difficult explanations; understand the students’ feelings, needs and culture; promote friendly learning; offer closer interaction; easy to communicate with; calm; well-educated; good advice; and they also concluded with the knowledge of pedagogy and variety of teaching strategies. However, the respondents who chose International Lecturers stated that international lecturers have the ability and experiences of using English language in teaching as well as communicating from one country to another. The students also mentioned that they are well-prepared, punctual and able to provide friendly learning environment.

Implications of the Study

A few pedagogical implications and recommendations could be put forward as follows:

The university administrators and human resource departments should consider the recruitment and selection criteria especially the qualification, certification or degree and evidence of teaching experiences. In addition, they have to think about In-class teaching combination. In other word, the university should allow both Local and International teachers to teach different courses in the same classroom according to their specialization. Moreover, the university should be careful with the university’s regulation in terms of dressing, punctuality, and so on.

The students need to understand the difficulties encountered by Cambodian Lecturer relating to experiences of using English in communication. In addition, they also need to understand the difficulties encountered by International Lecturers due to their inability to use the students’ native language in teaching and understanding the students’ culture.

The Professors who would seek the career of teaching in Cambodian Universities have to improve their ability, capacity and competency of teaching techniques and strategies. They should have the skills for providing friendly and conducive learning environment.

The Ministry of Education, the department of Policy as well as ACC should conduct a periodic and serious observation on the universities and the universities’ professors relating to their qualification, certification or degree and the evidence of teaching experiences. They should distinguish the identity of each university’s lectures according to the educator bureaucracy. As a result, the Cambodian Higher Education Institutions will be more standardized.


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