TEFL Establishing Rapport

Rapport is important for building and sustaining a relationship with a student. It is the ability to join people who connect mentally and emotionally on the same wavelength. Having rapport will ensure that the student understands the teacher and is willing to listen to and follow instructions or explanations from the teacher. To influence a student the teacher has to be able to appreciate and understand about the needs of their students. If the student feels understood they are much more open to take on board what the teacher has to say.

(1)Rapport works best when it is a philosophy and a way of dealing with people and a way of doing business at all times – in contrast to doing rapport as a technique in a sales meeting or when there is a problem.

(2) Each teacher will have their own approach to classes but it is important for a teacher to have genuine interest in the students. If the teacher is at all false in their approach, the students may see this and become wary of the teacher. Any rapport established previously will be lost, and it will be difficult to gain the trust of the students again. As establishing rapport is important for the teacher and student to form and maintain a good relationship, it is important that the teacher designs parts of lessons for building rapport. This is especially important at the start of a course. Having an ice breaking game that the students and teacher can play together would be a good starting point. In order to build up the relationship between student and teacher and get students participating from the start it will require some fun and exciting games. It is up to the individual teacher as to how well they wish to establish rapport with their students. The teacher's own personality to some degree will effect how well they get on with the students. Remembering a few simple guidelines from the start will help the teacher on their way: Introduce yourself. Students need to know that you are personable and accessible. You can begin to establish rapport by taking time in the first class to tell your students about yourself. Tell students what you want to be called because they are often confused about what is appropriate. Tell them something about your background, your enthusiasm for teaching English, hobbies and interests Try to learn student’s names or at least get them to write their name on a piece of paper and hang it from their desk.  This way you can be personal with them in calling their names. Students tend to work harder and respond more if they know that the teacher is interested in them as individuals. Learning a student’s name is the first step in establishing that interest. There are many ways to learn student names, and this can be included in an ice breaking activity.Gather information about students. Collecting information about students will help you to adapt the course to their needs. Think about what kinds of questions you might want to ask your students (e.g. Have you taken any other speaking courses? Is this course required or did you choose to do it?) It may be an idea to ask students to complete a pre-test to find out what students know about the subject before starting the course. Arrive early and/or stay late. Talking outside of class hours with students is a great way to establish that you are approachable. Doing this on the first day will leave a good impression with students. It can also provide an opportunity for students to ask questions they will not ask in class.

(3)There are also other practical ways to establish rapport such as smiling, keeping good eye contact, personalising activities for the interest of the students etc. The techniques mentioned above are particularly useful for a first class with new students. In conclusion, building up rapport with students is essential for the teacher to provide a good atmosphere for the classroom. It does not just achieve a good relationship between student and teacher but a better learning experience for the student and this will be rewarding for the teacher.

Author: Thomas Ormston

Date of post: 2007-04-25