Teach English in Muzidian Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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142. What personal qualities are important for English teachers? To answer this question succinctly, I will avoid discussing the professional qualities which jump to mind as being important for English teachers, such as being formally trained or having decades of teaching experience, so that I can focus on the strictly personal qualities that are important for English teachers. These qualities are less readily determined from a CV, and most easily identified through personal interaction, making them a crucial component of the interviewing process that’s necessary to acquire an English teaching job in almost all countries. For this reason, those seeking to teach English abroad would be wise to refine the following qualities which discerning employers will appreciate during the hiring process. Now, the extent to which personal qualities relate to effective teaching has been the topic of numerous empirical studies. Weinstein (1998) conducted a study in which ten characteristics were identified which were thought to be associated with effective teaching (as cited in Brown & Rodgers, 2002, p. 153). Seven out of ten of these characteristics were related to personality, suggesting that personal qualities have an importance in teaching which contests the importance of professional qualities, perhaps overshadowing them. The personality factors found in the Weinstein study included patience, warmth, creativity, humour, and outgoingness. The Journal of Language Teaching and Research contained similar findings, saying that “successful EFL teachers demonstrate a wealth of personality traits (or “soft” attributes) with broad appeal, the most important of which are flexibility and adaptability, enthusiasm, fairness, high expectations, a good sense of humour, patience, responsibility, agreeableness, a caring attitude, friendliness, honesty, and respectfulness” (Al-Seghayer, 2017). Many of these match up with those found in the Weinstein study mentioned above, and reaffirms the importance of personal qualities in teaching English. Humour is one of the most common traits found across the literature on personal qualities that are important to teaching English, therefore I shall focus my attention on this trait here. A good sense of humour is a key personality trait that contributes to teacher effectiveness (James, 2007), and it does this in many ways. Firstly, it plays a significant role in effectively communicating course content, particularly abstract and challenging content (Downs, Javidi, & Nussbaum, 1988;Kher, Mostad, & Donahue, 1999). Secondly, it enhances student enjoyment in learning and reducing anxiety (Garner, 2005). Thirdly, humour establishes a classroom climate conducive to optimal student learning (Gorham & Christophel, 1990). In addition, humour has been found to help facilitate attention and motivation in the classroom (Lorenzi, 1996). It also is sure to help a teacher get through the stresses and difficulties associated with teaching, as humour has been found time and time again to be conducive to a good state of mental health. Clearly humour is a key quality for teaching English, as are patience, warmth, creativity, enthusiasm, adaptability, and respectfulness. English teachers would be wise to refine these qualities to improve their effectiveness as teachers, and in doing so the teacher is progressing on their own journey of perpetual personal development. References Brown, J. D., & Rodgers, T. S. (2002). Doing second language research. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Collins, J. (2009). Lifelong learning in the 21st century and beyond. RadioGraphics, 29(2), 613–622. de Saint-Exupéry, A. (1943). The little prince (Trans.). New York: Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich. Larsen-Freeman, D. (1986). Techniques and principles in language teaching. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. McDonough, J., & Shaw, C. (1993). Materials and methods in ELT: A teachers’ guide (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. McEwan, E. K. (2002). 10 Traits of highly effective teachers: How to hire, coach and mentor successful teachers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. McLaughlin, M. W., & Marsh, D. D. (1978). Staff development and school change. Teachers’ College Record, 80(1), 69–94. Pasternak, M., & Bailey, K. M. (2004). Preparing nonnative and native English-speaking teachers: Issues of professionalism and proficiency. In L. D. Kamhi-Stein (Ed.), Learning and teaching from experience: Perspectives on nonnative English-speaking professionals (pp. 155–175). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Schulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teachers. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4–14. P. Miller, 1987. Ten Characteristics of a Good Teache “Qualities of Successful Language Teachers,” by Allen, as cited in Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy (2nd Edition), by Brown, 2000 Qualities of an “exceptionally effective teacher” in “Effective Teacher Study” (PDF), by M. Malikow, 2006 “Good English Language Teachers Are Those Who...”, by L. Kamhi-Stein, 2012 Brown, J. D., & Rodgers, T. S. (2002). Doing second language research. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press Al-Seghayer, K. (2017). The Journal of Language Teaching and Research, Vol. 8, No. 5: The Central Characteristics of Successful ESL/EFL Teachers