Teach English in Yazhou Zhen - Nantong Shi

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Elizabeth Adkins TEFL Course Summative Task "What Personal Qualities are Important for English Teachers" 2/20/2020 In many cases, the difference between the success or failure of a classroom rests more on the quality of the teacher than anything else. Like a storyteller, a teacher, with the right kind of attitude, can take even the most difficult or mundane of materials and transform it into an engaging and enlightening experience. This does not mean that a teacher is required to be an extrovert, nor does it mean that a teacher must know everything there is to know about the subject that they are teaching. Rather, what makes or breaks a teacher is the attitude they choose to adopt: the empathy and patience they show toward their students, the preparedness for as many potential problems as they can reasonably predict, and, perhaps most importantly, the passion they have for the subject matter. Why would empathy and patience be such necessary traits when dealing with students? Firstly, these are essential qualities because they will allow the teacher to respect each student’s culture, their knowledge level, and be able to detect problems in a given classroom. Additionally, these are important because a student will be able to respond more effectively if they feel that the teacher understands and relates to the problems the students have with language comprehension. Many different factors play a role in whether or not a student will succeed, and not all of these factors can be directly controlled by the teacher; however, a teacher can help their students tremendously by understanding a student’s needs and being able to work with them with compassion and persistence. Empathy is also required for teaching English because of how difficult language learning can be. Like any organism, the English language evolves the more it is reproduced. Because English is used internationally and is one of the predominate languages used on the internet, the language is changing and word meaning, pronunciation, and grammar can vary from place to place. This can make those who are not native speakers feel frustrated or embarrassed. By using patience and empathy, the teacher can address these challenges in a way that makes it easy for students to ask questions and attempt to use the language without fear of failure crippling them. Why, then, would preparedness be necessary for a good teacher? While empathy and compassion are certainly needed, it is equally important to be prepared for any potential problems, both with the classroom (technology mishaps, for example) and with the students. A teacher needs to be able to both build a rapport that lets the students feel as though their needs are being met and to elicit respect in order to command a classroom. The best way to establish this respect is to be prepared. By showing up on time, looking professional, having strong time management skills, and having supplemental materials ready to go before class time starts, a teacher lets the students know that their time (and/or money) will not be wasted. It is also essential to note that being prepared means more than simply having the needed paperwork in order. Preparedness also includes awareness of a student’s culture, of what kinds of discipline will be required, and of what the classroom setup will entail. Being prepared with working technology is essential, especially as teachers are increasingly being sought in exclusively online classrooms. More importantly, a teacher needs to be prepared with what they know of the subject material. No matter how in-depth the course materials/textbooks may be, the teacher must have at least a fundamental knowledge of the subject matter. Lastly, why is passion such a significant part of the teaching process? Simply put, passion is contagious. A teacher who loves what they do will inspire and encourage their students, even if the subject matter itself can appear to be dull and/or difficult. Essentially, to be a great teacher, one must first be a great student in that you never cease studying. You have to care enough about the subject matter to keep studying it; knowing traditional English thoroughly, keeping up with current grammar trends, and familiarizing yourself with technological advances enough to know how to utilize contemporary teaching techniques. Passion gives energy to this process and that energy can be felt in a classroom, regardless of learning level or cultural background. At least as importantly (if not more so), is a passion for helping others. A common denominator for all human cultures is a fundamental desire to build communities and to contribute in whatever ways that we can. A teacher who has a passion for people regardless of cultural and societal backgrounds is something that can be understood without translation, and it helps make students more motivated to learn. This is why caring about people is an underlying requirement for any good teacher- by seeing and appreciating the needs and struggles of their students and being willing to learn from them along the way.