The study investigated English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers' knowledge of the linguistic foundations of the English language, teachers' reported classroom practices regarding time allocation to different language teaching and learning activities, and the relationship between these two parameters. An additional goal was to investigate teachers' beliefs regarding various aspects of literacy acquisition. Results indicated low scores for language constructs, especially those related to phonology and orthography. EFL teachers reported dedicating the largest amount of classroom time to vocabulary-related activities whereas the smallest amounts of time were allotted to teaching phonemic awareness and word reading. Teachers with higher scores on phonological, syllabic, and orthographic knowledge allocated more time to teaching and practicing phonemic awareness, grapheme-phoneme correspondence, and reading skills. Educational implications include the importance of research based, focused teacher professional training both in content knowledge of basic language constructs and in pedagogical knowledge of EFL literacy acquisition. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.