Rapport Building for The Most Enjoyable EFL Experience
It is undeniable that rapport between the teacher and students and between students themselves makes the class successful and enjoyable. However, some teachers face problems trying to establish rapport with the students. Being an experienced EFL teacher, I keep facing the same problem: it is hard for me to create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom and keep a balance between being students’ reliable friend and their authority.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Elena K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Why Are Good Relationships Important?
To begin with, it is important to create a warm relationship from the very beginning. Therefore, the first lesson should be more like an icebreaker than a lesson. It could be devoted to students’ and teacher’s interests and hobbies. Let us think about the first lesson with beginners' teenagers' class. For engaging part of this class, an introduction video about a teacher’s life and interests could be prepared to make students ask questions about the teacher. For the study part, I would suggest a matching activity, where students are supposed to match a picture and a hobby. Then for the activate part students could prepare a dialogue based on the prompts written on the board (Hello. What’s your name? My name is… What’s your name? I’m… What do you like to do? I like to…. What about you? I like to…). After that, the teacher can ask a few individuals to talk about their partner’s names and hobbies.
Interest in Students
Other than that, it is essential to be truly interested in every single student to make them feel comfortable. The following easy steps might help to establish rapport: smiling, always calling a student by his name, being positive about student’s interests and opinions, knowing each student’s basic information. You might also support students from time to time giving them positive feedback about their progress or some personal things. For example, noticing a new haircut of a student or a pair of shoes you like might cheer a student up and feel attended.
Having some students give comments on some issues will also improve the level of trust between you and the student, because it will show the student you care about what he or she thinks. Let us say your class topic is «Personal qualities». The teacher can not only ask what personal qualities single students think are important in people but also the teacher can ask around what are the best qualities that the other particular students have.
Outside of the Classroom
In my opinion, it is also a good idea to organize some out-of-the-classroom events to have students get known to each other and establish rapport with the teacher. That could be a movie night, or going to a museum together, or even having dinner at the teacher’s house. All of these things will help students to make friends with each other and gain trust with the teacher.
Also Read: Can you fail a TEFL course?
Students’ Private Life
Another thing that should be considered while trying to build a rapport with students is privacy. No one wants to be worse than other people are so the best way to exclude comparisons is to give comments, especially negative ones, in private. I believe the teacher should never mention someone’s name when talking about mistakes, therefore it is better to generalize students while explaining the mistakes were made. This is the principle that will make students feel comfortable and not insulted.
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In conclusion, I would like to say that establishing good rapport is one of the most important things that should be done as soon as the teacher starts working with the group/individual. This is the only way to have students wish to contribute and take part in the lessons.
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