Between Vision and Revision: English Language Teachers Accentuating Their Voices about 21st Century Skills

Meghry Nazarian, Negmeldin Alsheikh, Mohamed Alhosani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Globalization and technological innovation have increased demands on the education system to prepare students for success in an increasingly complex world. This exploratory sequential mixed-methods study created spaces for English language teachers to accentuate their voices with regard to "21st century skills" as recently introduced in the United Arab Emirates educational reform. In addition, it mirrored the encountered challenges while incorporating these skills into current instructional practices within the context of the United Arab Emirates. The study's findings revealed that most English language teachers possess an adequate awareness of 21st century skills and incorporate them into their teaching practices. In addition, qualitative and quantitative data indicated that teachers recognize the importance of practicing 21st century skills to stimulate students' engagement and improve their academic achievement. However, the mixed-methods results revealed that teachers encounter challenges while integrating 21st century skills into daily teaching: lack of necessary knowledge on how to teach specific 21st century skills, lack of time, lack of teacher collegiality, lack of robust professional development workshops, and increased paper accountability. Moreover, external challenges such as school environment, poor parental support, and difficulties in responding effectively to rapid change appeared to hamper the implementation of 21st century skills. Finally, the study suggested implications for curriculum design, pedagogy, and policymaking. For example, the curriculum should be built around learning by design to fuse 21st century skills into its contents; the pedagogy should incorporate multiliteracies and multimodalities for language learners; and policymakers should ensure direct instruction of the 21st century skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-50
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Learning in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • 21st Century Learning
  • 21st Century Skills
  • Challenges
  • English Language Teachers
  • United Arab Emirates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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