The Best English Teacher’s Personal Qualities
Teaching is not an easy profession, to begin with. Furthermore, teaching English as a foreign language adds even more complications and considerations. Many different qualities contribute to the aptitude of an English teacher. For starters, one must have the aptitude for the language itself. English, like all other languages, is a difficult and complex language. To teach a language properly, the teacher must have a certain level of fluency in that language. Although this may seem obvious, it is an important requirement because teaching a student incorrectly is almost worse than not teaching them anything at all. Therefore, fluency in English is an important enough characteristic that I feel it deserves a mention.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Tyler N. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Knowledge of the Subject
Another characteristic that is important for English teachers is general knowledge about linguistics or experience in another foreign language besides English. This point might seem counterintuitive to the last point I mentioned, however, there is a good reason for including it in a list of important personal qualities. General knowledge about linguistics or experience with another foreign language will allow a teacher insight into the common pitfalls of attempting to express oneself in a foreign language. I am a native English speaker that has studied linguistics and has attempted over the years to learn Japanese as a second language. Gaining experience learning a foreign language other than English has taught me how to distill important information and transmit that necessary information into another language that I have limited ability in. I feel that this experience has helped me greatly in situations in which I must try to understand a person expressing themselves with limited English ability.
Empathy and Patience
Another important personal quality of English teachers is a combination of empathy and patience. Learning to express complex human thoughts in a new language is a difficult, lifelong process. It can be frustrating to students of all ages and backgrounds. Therefore, to best understand and alleviate the struggles of their students, teachers need to be able to empathize with the things that trouble them. Once common problems are identified among students, teachers can adjust their lesson plans and teaching methods to most efficiently teach their students. Making these adjustments will take plenty of time and effort, and patience will help this process immensely.
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One more important personal quality for English teachers is having, what I like to call, a global mindset. A global mindset can be described as the understanding of the immense differences and variations that exist in culture between the various peoples in the world. Humans all around the world have adapted their own cultures and languages. These different cultures and the languages associated with them play a part in how people commonly express themselves, and these cultural norms, in turn, influence how the languages develop among the population. Despite the existence of countless languages, English has become the standard language at the global level. Teaching English requires teachers to be able to understand people from different cultures and backgrounds, as this information will affect their ability to express themselves in English.
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