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ESL Teacher's Role and Duty in the Classroom

ESL Teacher's Role and Duty in the Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Teaching may be one of the most ancient practices in human relations as parents teach their children how to develop skills to survive and thrive in the world, and then the social interactions naturally provoke more of it. Although daily life provides endless situations of teaching and learning through sharing experiences, the schools are the center for so, and the teacher is the one who plays the leading role in this process. The present essay will discuss how to describe the teacher's part based on three brief points of view: the etymological reference, historical context, followed by the ESL ITT standpoint.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Talita P. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Expectations about Teachers

From a social perspective, it is universally understood that a teacher is expected to be an intelligent person who has proper knowledge about some specific topics and is skilled enough to show and share it with one or more students, usually in an educational center such as a school or university or any other meeting point. This description seems familiar mainly if we analyze it from a common-sense point of view. Still, if we go deeper into the meaning of the teacher character, it is easy to find connections through etymology, as explored in the next paragraphs.

The etymological roots of the words "teach" and "teacher" are considered for this essay to investigate the core of these concepts, the oldest meanings of these words and roles, what the teacher character is meant to be. Researches in English etymology show the roots of the word "teach" has resolutions as "to show," "to demonstrate," "to point out," "to give instructions," "to guide"… While for "teacher," it is possible to find the meaning as someone who teaches. Therefore, considering these concept bases, one can understand that a teacher is a person who can show and explain something, add information, bring awareness, guide others. This way, the common sense perspective is not far from etymological science and is confirmed by the historical facts of education practices.

Main Purpose

Historically saying, the teacher's role, for centuries, was to concentrate all knowledge and show it to the students in an educational center where the students' part was basically to memorize and reproduce what was shown during the lessons. As a result, this kind of "teacher-centered" practice is still common in many societies worldwide. Even, it no longer supplies the real needs of the present multicultural, technological and scientific world. The teacher's responsibilities have been changing through time, responding to cultural, economic, and social requirements, in a non-stop phenomenon, tending to be like that for the next years. Nowadays, as the internet has been spreading its endless loads of information reaching everywhere in fractions of seconds all the time, consequently the teacher can no more be the only source of knowledge. This is one of the main reasons why a teacher's role in the present times must be dynamic to reach the students' learning development truly.

If it is possible to find all types of information on the internet, schools, and teachers must find ways to provide knowledge with features less likely to have online, for instance: good rapport, lively/loving/kind/motivating/helpful interaction. This idea is supported by Brown, H. Douglas (2007) "teachers can play many roles in the course of teaching, and this might facilitate learning. Their ability to carry these out effectively will depend to a large extent on the rapport they establish with their students, and of course, on their level of knowledge and skills."

From an ESL standpoint, based on Unit I of the ITT 120hs material, there are around nine prominent roles of a teacher: manager/controller, organizer, assessor, prompter, participant, tutor, resource/facilitator, model, observer/monitor. It is a matter of time to know how and when to use each of these possibilities because they depend on the activity. It also depends on the students and the educational center's requirements. In general, a teacher can play many of these roles in one single lesson, so it is essential to be dynamic and sensitive to the class.

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In conclusion, the description of a teacher's roles may broadly vary according to the educational center, the student's needs, and the topics to be approached. Still, a general perspective to truly educate someone is to take them from one state of understanding to another. This is something unchangeable through time.

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