Teach English in Shiyan Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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Why establishing rapport is necessary? Rapport is ‘the relationship that the learners have with the teachers and vice versa…a class where there is a positive, enjoyable and respectful relationship between teacher and learners and between learners themselves’, according to Jeremy Harmer in The Practice of English Language Teaching (2007) Pearson Longman. Students play a vital role in the atmosphere of a classroom, which some might say is how rapport is achieved. On the contrary, a teacher is the one that stimulates the general attitude in the room and students follow in his/her footsteps. In words, it might seem easy to simply say that a teacher has to set the mood and the students will follow, it is one simple issue how hard can it be to resolve. In reality, though, an EFL teacher has many problems of their own. Being a new teacher in a foreign environment usually isn’t easy. Regardless of how much training and practice you’ve had in your TEFL course, facing a classroom by yourself for the first time is always a little bit nerve-wracking. It is like stepping on a stage for the first time, obsessing about forgetting your lines. Most of what you have studied needs to be practiced and tried out. Will my plan work with this class? Will I understand the students’ needs and aspirations? Will I be able to get along with the students? Will I make any huge mistakes? Will I be able to explain properly? Will the students understand me? And so many more are questions that run in the teacher’s mind. Now, will the teacher give in to the fear and the overthinking? As taught the EFL teacher will find a way to shove all of these things aside for now and focus on building a good spirit in class. This is usually crucial to be built at the start in order to produce an environment that will help in learning. Students like anyone are more likely to contribute to a class where they feel relaxed and do get along. Yes, the first lesson plays a part in the dynamic of the overall course, but it is important to understand that this trusting and respecting relationship between students, their teacher, and one another, is not the work of one class. It is cumulative just like all relationships, and if you fail once, you can always pick it up next time. Tickle-Degnen and Rosenthal (1990) offered three main observable components of rapport that are important: Positivity of the relationship, marked by the friendliness and caring toward the other; mutual attention for which both agents attend and orient toward the other, showing interest in what the other is doing or saying; and coordination between the pair, creating a sense of synchrony. These components vary over time, but several ways have been studied and tested to help achieve that. As any conversation starts with knowing who you are talking to, one of the important factors to consider focusing on is knowing your student’s names. It is also quite helpful to show interest in their lives outside the classroom, but don’t overstep. Always include a ‘get to know you’ activity at the start of the class. During this time don’t forget to maintain eye contact with all those present in the room. Meet their looks with a smile always, and no matter how frustrated you are or tense, look like you are enjoying the job at all times. They will want to get to know you too, so give them the chance and the space to build mutual trust between you two. After knowing who they are and their interests try to respect that when choosing activities and topics to help keep them motivated. Always involve pair/group work and teach them to help each other. This way you will have built a comfortable classroom, and always praise your students to help keep it that way. Once you have established a good rapport, it is important to understand how different cultures communicate, and what are their culture actually entails to avoid falling off the rail. Use personalized activities in the engage phase, tailored to their background. Respect their opinions and never belittle or ridicule them. Don’t be afraid to correct them, but don’t overdo it. Keep it easy going, but always remember that you are there to teach them, and their progress is your aim. Tailoring content to fit the individuals in it, will always serve your purpose. As from personal experience, the more I knew about my students and incorporated that into the activities, the more fun the classroom was, but not just fun, students were talking, and trying to explore new grounds in the English language simply because the topics touched their personal lives. Therefore, as an EFL teacher, I personally think it is vital that you learn who you are dealing with in order to stay right on track.