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Roles That an ESL/EFL Teacher Plays in the Classroom

Roles That an ESL/EFL Teacher Plays in the Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

One of my favorite aspects of teaching is the role of the teacher in the classroom. To some, the role of the teacher is only to teach people information that they then regurgitate during a later exam. However, to me, teaching is a fascinating profession because a teacher is many things to many different students.

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


The most prominent role of a teacher is the conveyor of information. Whether the class is about learning a second language, mathematical equations, or writing a screenplay, the teacher is there because he or she has enough of an understanding about the subject to help others learn about the topic at hand.

While a teacher does not need to know every detail about a subject matter, the teacher does need to know enough about a topic to be able to inform his or her students accurately. In my experience, the best teachers often have real-world experience in the subject they are teaching. What I appreciate about teachers with personal experience is that they can speak with firsthand knowledge and, therefore, can become storytellers and not just someone who reads from a textbook.

Also read: Top 5 Tips: How to Learn a New Language When Teaching English Abroad


Another role of a teacher is that of being a friend. Education is a journey. Furthermore, education is a journey that is much more enjoyable when someone has a companion to take with them on the trip.

With that said, I believe that the best teachers are often friends with their students. Understandably, there is a hierarchy in the classroom. However, despite the apparent order of command, a teacher can still be a friend to his or her students.

A friend is there to support, encourage, and aid you. I do not see why a teacher is any different. A worthy instructor does not have to remain stone-faced and cold in fear of otherwise losing control of a classroom. Instead, a reputable teacher can find ways of keeping his or her authority with students while being able to show a professional level of empathy.

Also read: 5 Reasons Why Teaching Abroad is Better Than Studying Abroad


Another role of the teacher is that of a role-model. In a moment of honesty, no one is perfect. Therefore, I am not implying that teachers need to aspire to an unrealistic image of perfection. However, there are many ways that a teacher can serve as a role model for a class.

Teachers can begin setting a suitable example for a class by arriving to class on time and prepared. By coming to class ready for the day, a teacher can show attributes such as organization, attention to detail, and focus by coming to class equipped with what he or she needs for the day. Additionally, because everyone has a stressful day, a teacher can even show his or her class how to preserve during class despite having personal challenges as well. In short, a teacher can serve as a respectable role model by merely leading by example.


In closing, the word teacher is more of an umbrella term than an exact job description. I have selected just a few roles that teachers play during their day. However, there are many more, as well. For many, including myself, I think the various roles and responsibilities that teachers have are part of the allure of the profession.

While I might be severely incorrect, I am doubtful that most teachers entered their careers simply because of they “…Wanted to teach.” Instead, I am willing to bet that most teachers arrived at teaching because of the many other roles that go along with the filed besides giving and grading tests.

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As I progress into my own teaching experience, I look forward to finding the rewarding aspects of teaching besides giving homework for myself.

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