These 3 Simple Tips Will Help You to Become a Favorite Teacher
Establishing rapport with your students is crucial for many reasons. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines rapport as “a friendly, harmonious relationship especially: a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.” This means that establishing rapport is like laying a foundation for understanding and communication. One of the most fundamental purposes of any language is to provide a way to understand and communicate with other people. Taking the time to establish rapport is simply the first step to laying a foundation for teaching and learning a language. A true teacher does not teach a subject, they teach students. As a teacher, it isn’t enough to know the material. You must also know your students. So, what does establishing good rapport look like?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kiah C.
1. Learn more about your students
One of the most simple and important ways to establish good rapport is by knowing your students’ names. It is worth taking the time to remember and pronounce names correctly. Time is a universal currency when it comes to establishing rapport. Don’t be afraid to take the necessary time to learn your students’ names. Also, take time to learn a little bit about them. Where are they from? How old are they? Do they have siblings? What do they like to do? Ask them how they are. It is no coincidence that many of these sentences are some of the first ones we learn in another language. When these questions are asked genuinely, they will naturally build rapport. Allow yourself to enjoy the process of building rapport.
2. Laugh with your students
Find things you can all appreciate or agree about. It is not simply the means to an end. A good connection is the lifeblood of learning and maturing. Develop the habit of smiling and occasionally making eye contact. Take the time to learn and share some new jokes. Laughing together establishes rapport by putting people at ease and opens them up to listen and learn.
3. Listen your students
I had a mentor in my life who used to always say that God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. We are meant to listen twice as much as we talk. This model doesn’t always work in the classroom, but giving students an opportunity to speak as much as possible is another way of building rapport. It communicates that they have a voice that matters. It requires being sensitive to individual students. Some students aren’t comfortable sharing with the whole class. Know which students need you to provide other ways for them to speak, such as in small groups or pairs. Being kind, respectful, and consistent will help with building rapport. As human beings, our brains are wired to build connections and associations. The way we build rapport with our students will probably influence the way they view the English language. I’m sure we all have the experience of liking or disliking a subject in school because of a good or bad teacher. More often than not, it isn’t that those teachers had less or more understanding of the subject that made them a good or bad teacher. It was how they treated their students that impacted our perception of the subject.
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In conclusion, we can see that establishing rapport is essential to teaching, especially as an EFL teacher. There may be times where we are the first native speaker of English that a student gets to know. How we treat them will greatly influence their opinion of the language and culture. It will also play a huge part in whether they are inspired to learn or propelled into boredom and despondency. So, take the time to listen and learn as a teacher. Learn names, smile, laugh, and value each student. Being patient and kind will go a long way. Establish rapport. There is no place for understanding and communicating without it.
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