How to Establish Rapport with Students
A teacher has an important responsibility to get to know his or her students to ensure that they are engaged with the lesson on a daily basis. Learning another language is not easy so it is imperative that a teacher does everything in his or her power to get to know their students and become as familiar with them as possible. One of the most effective ways a teacher can begin to do so is by establishing rapport with their students.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kathyrine L.
When should a teacher build good relationship?
Establishing rapport with students is ideally something that should happen at the beginning of the course. It is better to get to know your students as soon as possible rather than later. There is much to be learned by recognizing and understanding each student's unique interests, motivation, goals, and background. It also demonstrates to the students that they have an educator eager and truly interested in getting to know them as individuals and on a personal level.
There are a number of specific activities that a teacher can utilize to effectively create rapport with their students. These activities include questionnaire surveys, the "tell us about" board game, the pass the ball game and a needs analysis that is particularly useful for business students. These activities can and should be done on the first day of class rather than immediately going to the textbook. These activities can not only be useful but they can help with nervous students and getting everyone to feel more comfortable with each other.
Also Read: How Important are Phonology and Pronunciation in the English Language Classroom?
First day activities
The questionnaire survey is commonly introduced by many teachers on the first day of class and it is a pre-set questionnaire that lets the students get to know each other while an observant teacher can also gather useful information about their proficiency level while the activity is taking place. In the "tell us about" board game, students play by rolling the dice and tell the class about the topic that their counter has landed on. In the past the ball game, students gently toss a ball to another student to ask him or her questions and the teacher can also participate in this rapport-building game. In the needs analysis - which can be a formal questionnaire or an informal chat between the teacher and student - students answer questions pertaining about their interests and explore the specific areas that they would like to focus on during the class to assist with their jobs or careers.
Once a teacher has some information about his or her students from these rapport building activities, he or she can begin to create lesson plans around this information. For example, in one of my classes, I noticed that all of my students had a strong interest in dance and music and many were even actively involved in one of the fields on a recreational basis. I used this information to create English lessons on popular song lyrics and used warmers that also catered to their interest. This made the class on a whole lively, engaging and much more interesting for my students as the material connected to things that they were already interested in. On the other hand, if a teacher went straight to the textbook and dived into grammar drilling activities the teacher would not have had this information and might not have been able to make this important discovery with their students.
Also Read: How I Constructed My First ESL Lesson Plan
It is also important to identify the English level of individual students and ascertain their needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Some students may have years of experience or least some familiarity with the English language while other students may be complete novices or beginners. Understanding what kind of students you have is one of the most important first steps to ensuring a successful class. If for example, lessons are based for intermediate or advanced students when a classroom is filled with most beginners, it could have a negative effect on student participation and achievement. Once a teacher has this information, he or she can begin to create lessons based on student needs and modify the course to specifically address their goals. In conclusion, rapport building activities are not only fun for students and help to get to know each person in the class, but it also helps the teacher create and modify lessons that are catered to student needs, goals, and interests in order to maximize their cognitive development.
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