Teach English in Siziwangqihongge'er Sumu - Wulanchabu Shi — Ulanqab

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Many people think that the most important aspect of teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is knowledge of the subject. Though a thorough knowledge of the English language is critical for teaching EFL, experienced teachers will attest that the relationships and interactions between teachers and students are equally important. Establishing good rapport with students draws them into studying English, encourages them as they wrestle in mastering the language, and motivates them to pursue a fuller comprehension of the subject. Furthermore, building positive relationships with students supports and can transform students struggling in the classroom due to problems at home, peer pressure, or learning difficulties. Thus it is necessary for teachers to consider how to establish and sustain constructive relationships with their students while teaching. “What is good rapport?” you may ask. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines rapport as “a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.” In the classroom, this occurs when teachers seek to understand, encourage, and motivate students toward the common goal of learning English. Though the definition is simple and clear, the methods teachers employ to understand, encourage and motivate students are vast and varied due to the unique differences of students’ circumstances, personalities, and desires. However, there are many common techniques that teachers can pursue to build good rapport with their students. Often teachers’ first interactions with their students is through body language. Though a smile or a frown is a small action to undertake, it is a powerful indicator of teachers’ attitudes and dispositions toward their students. A smile from a teacher expresses to her students approval, encouragement, and support which helps to create an effective learning environment. Additionally, making eye contact with students while talking to them or calling upon them can communicate that they are seen and encourages them to share their questions or responses. Furthermore standing up and walking around the classroom can convey to students the teacher’s availability and desire to answer questions or assist them with help. As students observe positive body language in their teacher, they feel welcomed by and connected with their teacher and often motivated to strive harder in their language study. Another useful technique for teachers to build rapport with their students is to create an encouraging and stimulating classroom environment. Though teachers usually do not get to choose their classroom, there is much they can do to make the room welcoming for students and stimulating for learning. For example, a teacher can arrange the classroom seating in a U-shape to bring each student in closer contact with the teacher, drawing his or her attention to the teacher or what is happening in the classroom. Another classroom seating option is grouping desks together for pair or group work to develop interaction between students so that they may assist and support each other as they learn. Additionally, hanging pictures and posters of vocabulary or grammar rules on the walls or displaying realia objects around the room creates interest in students and brings warmth into the classroom. Like body language, classroom arrangement and decor might seem insignificant in the large scheme of teaching, but they make a significant difference in students’ attitudes toward and engagement with their teacher. Finally, I believe one of the most effective methods for teachers to develop positive relationships with their students is intentional communication. Teachers set the tone and direction for the class, and the main way this is achieved is through speaking and listening. Now a teacher has the power and position to speak as much as he or she desires; however this can destroy students’ engagement and motivation. Thus it is critical for teachers to decide before class what and how they would like to communicate. If a teacher is new to her students, it is helpful to begin the course by introducing herself and letting students ask her questions. Teacher introductions help students get to know their teacher, hear their teacher’s desire and attitude towards them, and feel comfortable around their teacher. Furthermore, it is important for EFL teachers to speak slowly, clearly, and simply when giving directions and sharing expectations. Additionally, listening to students in the classroom is vital for teachers. When a teacher listens to his students, he can learn how his students are comprehending the lessons, students’ interests and motivations for learning English, and problems they are facing in their study. As a result, a teacher can then adjust his lessons to better fit his students. Teachers who intentionally communicate with their students through speaking and listening well demonstrate care and support while motivating and encourage their students to grow and persevere in their English studies. EFL teachers have a unique privilege helping others grow in their language skills and in their confidence and engagement with the world around them. However, this can only happen when teachers are intentional in building good rapport with their students. As teachers strive to grow positive relationships of understanding, encouragement and motivation with their students, both teachers and students experience the joy and achievement of teaching and learning English.