Teach English in Guangfuqiao Zhen - Zhangjiajie Shi

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Many would agree that teaching is more than a mere transmission of knowledge. Being an effective teacher would take more than just having the knowledge of the subject matter, setting out a proper lesson plan and preparing a good set of course materials. Theodore Roosevelt, a former President of the United States, once said this, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Students, too, are looking for teachers who care. Good knowledge and diligent preparation are important but one other ingredient that is necessary for a teacher to be effective is that of establishing rapport with students. Rapport is defined as “a friendly, harmonious relationship”. While rapport on its own does not guarantee learning, establishing rapport builds an environment that is conducive for learning. There are some who may think that building rapport with the students can potentially compromise on the time that could be used for lesson delivery, group discussions on the subject matter and students to practice. Hence, given the limited amount of time they have for the class, they would rather focus on the latter and give priority to delivering the lesson content. However, such an approach may do more harm than good in the long run. In an article titled “To Help Students Learn, Engage the Emotions”, which was published in the New York Times on 4 May 2016, it was reported that emotion is essential to learning. Based on research done, students learn better when their interest is sparked, when they find the subject relevant to them, or even when they have an emotional connection with the subject matter or the teacher. Hence, when teachers are able to establish rapport (or emotional connection) with the students, it would often result in better learning. In fact, time spent on building rapport may not necessarily be at the expense of lesson delivery. The ways in which a teacher builds rapport with the students need not be time-consuming. With some extra effort given to planning for the lesson, the activities incorporated during the lesson can help to build rapport between the teacher and students while bringing across the key learning point. For example, getting them to talk about something they really enjoyed doing in the past week could be a way to teach them to form sentences using simple past tense. I had the opportunity to teach a group of young learners and I saw how building rapport with them changed their attitude towards learning. When they first started the class, they were shy and hesitant to express themselves. In addition, they felt that learning the language was difficult for them. I saw the importance of building an environment where they would enjoy the process of learning. A simple step I took to establish rapport with them was to greet them and call them by their names as they come to class. At the initial sessions, I would also incorporate simple activities through which I could find out about the things they like, or even how their week has been. Other than having the opportunity to get to know them better, I also gave them a chance to use the language to express themselves. When it comes to talking about something they like or enjoy doing, they would be excited and that helps to bring positive vibes during the classes. It is also important to give equal opportunities for different students to have a chance to speak up so that there wouldn’t be any of them who feels left out. There are times I would also give different ones a simple task (e.g. handing out the books, cleaning the whiteboard), and I observed that the students feel more involved when they are given simple responsibilities and eventually even volunteer to help out. After having taught them for a few months, I could observe that they demonstrate greater enthusiasm, are more confident to express themselves and more motivated to complete the worksheets given during class. In conclusion, establishing rapport is indeed an essential ingredient for effective learning. Hence, teachers ought to consider creative ways that would help build rapport with the students when planning and preparing for a lesson. Establishing rapport is not something that can be done overnight. Time and effort is required. However, what is even more important is the teacher demonstrating consistency and taking a genuine interest in the students. In this way, the result would be evident eventually. The students would learn better and teaching becomes more effective.