Teach English in Wugang Zhen - Huai'an Shi

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In order to improve quality of teaching, numerous academic researches have been conducted over the past years. The vast majority of these academic researches mention establishing rapport in class as an important factor that greatly influence the overall effectiveness of teaching. But what is rapport? According to The British Council (, rapport is "the relationship built on trust and respect between teachers and students. It is one of the fundamental factors leading to students' feeling capable, competent and creative so that they can reach to their potential in studying English." J. Harmer (The Practice of English Language Teaching, 1991) describes rapport as “the relationship that the students have with the teacher and vice versa”. J. Scrivener (Learning Teaching, 1994) mentions that “whereas rapport is clearly important, it is also notoriously difficult to define or quantify”. Various aspects of rapport and ways of achieving it will be discussed in detail in the current essay with the focus on their applicability in the classroom. As described by J. Harmer, rapport depends on the teacher and his personal qualities as well as successful teacher-student interactions. For a teacher being well-organised and well-prepared, knowledgeable of the subject he or she is teaching, being familiar with classroom materials and equipment is important in building an image of a good leader and successful professional which helps students have confidence in their teacher. Such confidence is crucial in creating a positive, enjoyable and respectful relationship between teacher and students. However, in order to establish rapport in classroom, students should also have positive interactions with the teacher. J. Harmer suggests that successful interactions depend on four key characteristics: recognizing students, listening to students, respecting students and treating all students equally. Recognising students can be a surprisingly difficult task – memorising dozens of names in a language that a teacher may not be fluent in is no small feat. Teachers have developed various strategies to ease that task. One method is to ask students to put name cards on the desk in front of them. Another method is to draw up a seating plan and ask students to sit in the same place until the teacher has learnt their names. Some teachers also make notes about individual students and review them before the lesson. It should be mentioned that these methods can also have drawbacks. For example, if students are forced to sit in the same place that means they cannot be moved around and students can confuse teacher if they sit in the wrong place. According to J. Harmer, listening to students plays important role in establishing rapport and keeping students engaged. Teacher should show interest in what students have to say and avoid dismissive tone to keep students motivated. As far as possible, teacher should also listen to students’ feedback regarding their progress and overall satisfaction with teaching experience. Finally, teacher should also pay attention to body language as it is also plays an important role in convincing students that teacher genuinely pays attention to what they say. Respecting students when addressing or correcting them is a very delicate matter. Finding a good balance between criticism and appraisal can be difficult. For example, if a teacher is too critical, the students become demotivated as a result. In a similar way, if a teacher constantly praises students, they become too accustomed to the praise and begin to require it all the time. Respecting students also heavily depends on students’ personalities and customs and etiquette rules of their country. It should also be mentioned that respect plays important role in solving problem behavior. Therefore, in order to choose the right way of addressing or correcting students, teachers should be observant and knowledgeable of the rules of etiquette. As J. Harmer suggests, treating all students equally helps establish and maintain rapport and shows teacher’s professionalism. While every teacher react better to active, cheerful and cooperative students, it is important to encourage the less active ones to achieve efficient and pleasant learning experience for all students. The inactivity of some students can have various reasons like personal shyness, cultural or family background or difficult relationships with other students. A good teacher should encourage such students to participate in learning process and give them attention. In conclusion it can be said that rapport plays a crucial role in the educational process. Failing to establish and maintain it in teacher-student interactions leads to difficulties in teaching and unpleasant experiences from both sides. Thus it is important for a teacher to be observant, knowledgeable and have good attitude and leadership skills. If a teacher lacks them, he or she should consider attending some additional specialized courses which will help them attain these qualities.