Teach English in Ougeng Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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Rapport can be defined as a relationship between people which comprises understanding and compassion. It allows the parties in the relationship to feel comfortable in clearly expressing their thoughts and feelings. The importance of this should not be overlooked in the teacher-student relationship, where rapport creates a relaxed atmosphere based on trust. Establishing rapport should thus be one of the first considerations of a teacher when starting with new students. If rapport is successfully achieved, it will lead to the development of an effective learning environment. At the start of a new course, simple actions such as learning the names of the students and asking them what their interests are will help to quickly build initial rapport. A primary role of a teacher is to help students achieve their learning objectives and therefore it is imperative they take the time to understand the motivations of the student. By doing so, the teacher is showing care and compassion and the student will feel their needs are being valued. This creates a personal and emotive connection, which provides the foundation for effective two way communication. Students not only benefit from a personalised learning experience, but the teacher is also able to benefit from honest feedback. The learning process becomes two way, as the teacher gains an understanding of what is, and what is not, working in their lessons. They can then adapt as necessary, shaping future lessons to better aid the learning experience. Trust is core to the formation of a successful relationship, with students needing to have faith and belief in what the teacher is telling them. The students must have confidence in the teacher’s ability to fulfil their role and the information provided therefore needs to be accurate. When a teacher cannot be certain of this, they will need to display honesty in order to give themselves credibility. Promises, of providing additional help or even punishments, need to be fulfilled if the student is to feel obliged to keep their side of the bargain e.g. complete their homework, turn up on time or not create distraction in the class. If a student feels a teacher is true to their word, they will reciprocate in their own actions, allowing for a smooth and productive lesson for all. Once the boundaries of trust have been established, a relaxed environment can be developed. This allows the students to feel comfortable in their surroundings and will lead to increased participation. It is after all imperative for a student to speak as much English as possible if they are going to successfully learn it as a second language. They therefore cannot feel a lack of confidence in self-expression and must not fear making mistakes in front of the teacher or their peers. This can simply be achieved by not over-correcting or pressurising students. Instead, a good teacher will be engaging and enthusiastic, creating a fun environment of which the students want to be a part. This will lead to continued attendance and increased participation. Depending on the type of students (beginners, individual, children, adults etc) that are being taught, having a good rapport with students can act as a mitigator to behaviour management. Many can find authority difficult to accept and so rapport is essential in breaking down the ‘them and us’ barrier. If students do not feel suppressed, they will not have the need to rebel. Likewise, students who are engaged and enjoy the lesson are unlikely to become bored and resort to disruptive behaviour. By reducing time spent on classroom management, more can be dedicated to the learning process. For example, if students are cooperative and focussed on a worksheet task, the teacher is able to observe students’ understanding of the language point in more detail and thus provide more tailored support and feedback where required. Ultimately, teachers are in a position of leadership and need to be respected by the students for this position to be realised. Rapport ensures this respect is two ways and enables the classroom boundaries to be set, where there is a mutual agreement of responsibilities. When the teacher provides accurate information through a fun and engaging environment, students will, in exchange, actively participate and commit themselves to the learning objectives. Nobody, student nor teacher, wants the learning process to feel like exactly that, a process. If it does, this leaves everyone simply going through the motions, plodding along a route which is taken only through necessity of reaching an end goal. Each lesson can feel like a burden to both the students and teacher if rapport is lacking. If, on the other hand, it is established, rapport can turn the process into an enjoyable and collaborative journey, where each lesson unlocks a new wonder, an eye opening realisation or another twist in the tale. As the story begins to unravel itself, the students are left with anticipation and a desire to read the next chapter. The teacher is simply there to turn the next page.