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Mastering the Art of Teaching English: Essential Qualities for Success

Mastering the Art of Teaching English: Essential Qualities for Success | ITTT | TEFL Blog

It is important for English teachers who instruct non-native English speakers to have cultural awareness and an appreciation of their student body, a commitment to creating engaging and meaningful English lessons, and a flexible, humorous personality. Based on my teaching experience as a primary school English teacher in Dakar, Senegal, I became aware of the importance of these qualities and how they allow teachers and students to thrive.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author, an alumni of ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training). They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ITTT. The content provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as official endorsement or representation by ITTT.

Building Cultural Awareness and Connection

Having cultural awareness and appreciation of one's students is crucial in creating a trusting and positive relationship between an English teacher and their students. When the teacher is aware of the linguistic and cultural differences and similarities between English and their students' native language(s) and culture(s), activities for beginner students can be initially structured around those similarities and differences.

Furthermore, an English teacher's cultural awareness benefits specialized groups, such as business language learners. By understanding the way business is conducted in the host country and the relationship between the business and its English-speaking clients, the teacher can not only teach business English but also assist the students in effectively communicating with English clients.

During my time teaching English to young students in Senegal, I found it necessary to adjust activities to suit their high energy levels. For example, to practice certain pronunciations they struggled with, we played games of "telephone" where I chose a word with a sound they struggled with, and every student whispered it to each other until the last student shouted it out. This proved to be a highly effective way to break up stagnancy and restlessness in the classroom.

Fostering Lasting Learning Experiences

Above all else, an English teacher must have a deep commitment to creating a lasting learning experience for their students, one that inspires and motivates them to practice English and apply it in their social or professional lives. Teachers can achieve this by establishing rapport with their students, which should be done early in the semester.

Building rapport can involve activities such as a ball toss game or conducting a questionnaire or survey to gain insight into what the students want from the class. Additionally, building rapport involves learning the students' names early on and frequently using their names to reinforce memory. Facilitating group and pair work is also important for teachers to encourage students to form friendships with each other. A teacher's focus on relationship building in the classroom also motivates students to engage and attend class with a positive attitude.

Embracing Flexibility and Adaptability

Flexibility and adaptability are important qualities for English teachers, as they may have a group of students with varying language abilities and backgrounds. An English teacher's role also involves creating diverse and varied lessons, which requires a flexible curriculum and mindset. To accomplish this, teachers should have a wide range of course materials at their disposal, such as a good course book, various technologies, and supplies to enhance learning, such as an overhead projector, games, and worksheets.

These are a few of the qualities I believe enable English teachers to thrive, particularly in diverse environments.


By cultivating cultural awareness, building strong relationships, and embracing flexibility, English teachers can create a dynamic and effective learning environment for non-native English speakers. These qualities not only facilitate language acquisition but also foster a sense of connection and motivation among students. With a commitment to their students' growth, English teachers can make a lasting impact on their language learning journey.

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