Session Summary: The Teacher’s Role

Two important myths:

  • Anyone who can speak English can teach English. NO!
  • A native English speaker is a better teacher than a non-native speaker. NO!

Good training of a language teacher includes:

  • Knowing the language. Although this is not enough, it is important! The person needs to be able to use the language for communication in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • Understanding how the language works. It is important to have some knowledge of the grammar, morphology (the nature of words) and phonology (the nature of sounds) of the English language.
  • Understand how people learn languages. This is called “Language Acquisition”. It is a fundamental and very important knowledge for any language teacher.
  • Ability to use language learning methodologies. This is the most critical and neglected area. It is this ability that will determine whether students are really prepared to communicate in a new language.

What to observe in the classroom of a good teacher?

  1. The teacher is adjusting the language level to the proficiency level of the students:
    • Students are not frustrated or disconnected because they cannot understand.
    • Students are not bored because there is nothing new.
  2. The teacher engages the students in using the language for real communication:
    • The teacher will have students working in pairs and small groups frequently.
    • The teacher knows how to use many types of strategies and activities such as TPR, information gap, surveys, interviews and others.
  3. The teacher is not speaking all the time. Students communicate actively, having voice command most of the time.
  4. The teacher is developing both fluency and accuracy:
    • The teacher knows how to balance these two aspects.
    • The students use the language constantly, developing fluency.
    • The teacher provides adequate feedback, helping students to improve their accuracy.

If students do not make progress, it is not always the teacher’s fault!

  • Time for learning may be insufficient: 1-2 hours per week is too little.
  • Schools may not be assessing “progress” properly. Grades may not show the language being acquired.
  • Students may be in English classes that do not correspond to their level – it is not the teacher’s fault. Translated with (free version)