How to Build a Good Relationship With Your ESL Students
Teaching English in a foreign country with students who speak very little of the language is a challenge. It is not a walk in the park as most people would like to think. There are customs and cultures which teachers must be aware of and must respect in order not to offend locals. There are certain things which teachers do in the United States, which cannot be done in other countries, let’s say Thailand, for example. It is of utmost importance for teachers to get acquainted with the dos and don’ts of the country where they are going.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jhoana C.
Be culturally sensitive
Teaching English to non-native speakers and making sure that you respect the customs and culture while doing so are already hard enough, teachers also need to establish rapport with students. Rapport is defined by the British Council as “relationship built on trust and respect between teachers and students. It is one of the fundamental factors leading to students’ feeling capable, competent, and creative so that they can reach their potential in studying English.” This begs the question; how do teachers effectively establish rapport with ESL students?
Be interested in your students
One of the excellent ways of establishing rapport is taking an interest in your students. Learn their names from day one and make an effort to pronounce their names correctly. If you are struggling with their names, you may request a nickname. One important thing to remember is that students are not machines, they are also humans and young students tend to have short attention spans. Create opportunities for learning for your students with whom you will be spending a substantial amount of time. Listen genuinely and ask follow-up questions. When students discover that their teacher is actually interested in their lives, they will be open to engagement.
Be a professional
Teachers also need to show that they are professionals by being fully prepared. Write a lesson plan for each of your classes. You may be an experienced teacher, but you still need a simple aid in case you get sidetracked or forget what you are supposed to discuss next. Content must be tailored to the needs of the class and it may be helpful for teachers to practice speaking at the right level and speed. The last thing a teacher wants is to have disappointed students because they could not understand their teacher.
Teachers must show students that they respect them and value their time by being on time themselves for each and every one of their classes. Handouts, the board, computers and internet connection must all be ready and working for the students to use. Lastly, teachers must dress according to the school’s code of conducts and also be presentable and well groomed.
Create appropriate activities
Games and group activities are very useful tools to get students to participate in class. Ask students to form groups and assign them tasks which they can present to the whole class together. It is a lot easier for students to speak in front of the class as a group rather than individually.
Mind your attitude
Lastly, teachers must remember to let their personalities shine. As anxious as teachers might be, students are just as tense. As a teacher, you really can’t ask your students to open up when you won’t even do it yourself.
Are you ready to teach ESL learners?
Building rapport does not happen overnight. It takes some time, as well as a good deal forethought, but with a ready smile and preparedness, teachers will easily win over students.
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