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Teach English in ZhuAnqiang Zhen - Nanjing Shi
What makes a good teacher, specifically a good English teacher? Is it someone who exudes charisma and easily influences others? Is a good English teacher an encyclopedia of knowledge about the language? Or does a good teacher possess a measure of those attributes combined with certain personal qualities? From my experience and study, a good teacher can hold the attention of others and has sizable knowledge on their topic. More importantly, a good English teacher reaches and motivates their students by displaying the qualities of confidence, patience, and love. As we will discuss, these qualities build on each other and create an environment conducive to learning and using the English language. Why must a good English teacher be, not necessarily charismatic, but confident? Charisma can often be more of an inborn trait, some people seemingly born to stand in front of others. On the other hand, confidence can be developed by acquiring knowledge and experience. When someone is charismatic, they may easily capture the attention of their students. But is that the most important aspect of a teacher's success? Our TESOL course highlighted that care must be exercised to prevent teacher talk time from being overused. While it has a place, the greatest results are achieved by student talk time. A confident teacher is capable of allowing silence - time for the minds of the students to think and respond. When a teacher knows their material well and how much the students need to understand it, they become confident. They will then create more opportunities for students to speak, not feeling that they must have the attention to demonstrate control. That confidence in the value of the material they teach allows them to focus less on themselves and how they appear and more on the needs of their students. This will increase student involvement and assist them in understanding and acquiring the English language they need. Patience is another vital personal quality for an English teacher. Why? One of the factors that can have a large impact on individual performance is the atmosphere of a classroom (or workplace, etc.). The person in charge (teacher) is in the best position to create an atmosphere that encourages learning and growth. How does patience help? Lacking patience leads to frustration for both teacher and student. This can rob the class of any pleasant atmosphere where they will want to ask questions and experiment with new vocabulary and language without fear. In contrast, patience, coupled with reasonableness, will help a teacher to have expectations in line with the abilities of each student. A patient teacher does not become agitated by questions on matters he feels he has already covered nor does he demand a level of performance a student cannot reach. Especially when teaching English with its many exceptions and strange structures, patience is essential. These grammar points require many repetitions and are simply difficult to grasp. Not to mention the many variances in pronunciation in English! When the teacher displays patience, students will keep trying and feel comfortable to grow. The last and most important personal quality for an English teacher to display is to be loving. What do English teachers need to love? Both what they teach and those whom they are teaching! This love is a key factor in developing confidence and patience. First, let us see why we need to love what we teach. The main reason is that how we feel about what we teach will affect how our students feel about what we are teaching. A student is unlikely to maintain interest and enthusiasm if his teacher lacks it. Any prospective teacher does well to ask himself: "In what ways will my students benefit from learning English? What aspects make the language particularly useful and practical?" Having the answers clear in mind and having fun with the language learning activities will show that you love what you teach and you love teaching it! This will naturally cause your students to have similar positive feelings about learning English with you. Even more so then what you teach, teaching is about helping those you teach. This is why it is vital that we love our students! We display love by cultivating an appropriate interest in their success in learning English and using it in life. If we love our students, we will not give up when facing challenges in teaching them. We will not take it personally when they ask a question, do not understand something or even fail in their classroom endeavors. We will strive to see how we can reach them and support them in their language learning efforts! Love will prevent us from assigning work that is too difficult or demanding too much from our students. It will prevent us from embarrassing them or showing disrespect for their background or customs. Feeling that we truly care about them and their success, our students will be motivated to keep trying and not to give up on themselves. Yes, love is the engine that keeps the classroom chugging along! When an English teacher combines love, patience, and confidence they will be successful in helping students become proficient in the language. Such a teacher will be motivated to prepare well and to keep learning themselves. Their personal knowledge base will continue to grow, further increasing their confidence. While charisma and encyclopedic knowledge are useful, they are not required to teach English. Any native speaker with a degree of formal English language schooling who loves teaching English and their students, who has patience and acquires confidence can be a very effective English teacher.