Are Confidence and Empathy the Most Important Skills When Teaching English?
There are a vast number of subjects related to teaching, regardless of the language being taught or the age of the learners. Learning techniques, teaching technologies and Computer Aided Learning, correction techniques and grammar related problems are just a few examples. Personally, I believe that learning teaching skills is one of the most important areas for new teachers to focus on as it covers a lot of issues that can add a deeper understanding of teaching to one's knowledge.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Mozhdeh V.
What are Teaching Skills?
When discussing teaching skills and learning about them, the first step would be a vigorous examination of the different skills and discovering what they are and how to achieve or improve them. The term ‘Teaching Skills’ covers many individual areas, including: Patience, adaptability, imagination, teamwork, risk taking, communication, mentoring, critical thinking, passion, technical skills, confidence, flexibility, classroom management and many more.
A teacher must have a lot of skills, play a number of different roles and hold several responsibilities. Many skills are human-related and depend highly on the nature of the individual teacher, while others relate to technical issues and organizational structure. Every individual is the result of various environmental and biological factors, thus, they possess different sets of skills and varying degrees of proficiency in each skill. Hence, not every teacher can have the same set of skills and master each skill to the same level as others. However, some skills are essential to the characteristic of a teacher. In my opinion, this essential set of skills should consist of, but is not limited to: confidence and empathy.
The Importance of Confidence
There is no doubt that a teacher must have sufficient knowledge of their subject, in this case the English language. There is a direct relation between the level of knowledge and the confidence acquired. The more well-informed, the more confident one can be. However, confidence does not solely depend on the level of knowledge. There are various other elements that have a significant impact on the formation of confidence. Confidence is the quality of having a clear vision and is the result of knowing what your goal as a teacher is and taking the right steps leading to that specific goal. It boosts the performance of a teacher, helps to build a strong rapport with students and colleagues and increases the level of trust between all parties. Thus, in order to build confidence as a teacher, it is not sufficient to solely study further and increase the level of knowledge. What is important is to have a clear vision, to know one's strengths and weaknesses and to know your students deeply as a result of paying meticulous attention to their needs and interests.
The Importance of Empathy
The next most important quality or skill a teacher should posses is empathy. In recent years, the advance of technology has changed almost all aspects of human life, including the way knowledge is learned. More resources are available and more people have access to knowledge that once was reserved only for a certain group of people. This accessibility of knowledge has also transformed the process of language learning. A lot of people now rely on the internet and self-study materials to learn new languages or to improve their level of knowledge, thus they are interacting with machines rather than a human teacher. Although this alteration in language acquisition has certain benefits, it lacks the element of human empathy which is the most significant difference between a teacher as a human and a teaching device. Empathy is the assurance students require to know that a teacher is not just a machine but an affectionate human being who will support them throughout the language learning journey.
Are you ready to teach English abroad?
It can be argued that technology has improved human life immensely. Science, medicine, transportation and many other fields have benefited the most. Like these areas, language learning has benefited with the improvement of technology, but in my opinion, language is still best learned in a human oriented environment. That is the reason why, although having high technical skills can help a teacher notably, the soft skills or human related skills have such a huge impact on the success of a teacher. To my way of thinking, to be an effective teacher one must learn to improve their quality as a human first, then as a teacher.
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