What Personal Qualities are Important for English Teachers?
Teaching English is so much more than just transmitting knowledge of the language. English teachers should have a certain amount of qualities to provide effective lessons.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Valerie V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
First of all, to be a good English teacher, it is necessary to have certain qualities to deliver quality content.
Teachers have to be organized. They need to create organized courses that follow a logical evolution through the whole syllabus. Although, it is important to stay flexible and answer students' questions throughout the lessons, knowing towards which direction the whole course is going, is essential. Having a lesson going in every direction might confuse students. This is why staying organized helps to keep credibility.
Teachers should be creative. The lessons should be varied and diversified to keep students' interest and motivation. Implementing different kinds of activities in all stages of the lesson whether Engage, Study or Activate phase, is essential as well as varying the format of the lesson (Straight Arrow, Patchwork or Boomerang).
Teachers should be conscientious and make sure they teach Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening in a balanced way (or according to the students' needs at least). This will allow students to improve in all those different fields.
Also Read: Praise in the Classroom: is it Normal?
Secondly, teachers should have the qualities to be listened to and respected to give their lessons efficiently.
Adopting the right attitude is key. Being enthusiastic and express the passion of teaching is something that students can feel, which helps a lot to attract their attention, keep them motivated and interested.
Showing self-confidence is also key. It can be through body language, the look, and the voice. If a teacher keeps his back and his shoulders bent forward, doesn't often look in students' eyes, and speaks very low, he might appear as if he lacked confidence. Conversely, if a teacher stands straight with an open chest, looking in the eyes at each student he talks to and speaks loud enough to make himself heard, even from the students at the back of the room, students might want to listen to him more. Moreover, some students (especially the younger ones) who might want to be disruptive may be more likely to be disrespectful with a teacher that shows a lack of confidence than if it wasn't the case. Being self-confident is then key to be respected and listened to.
Thirdly, some qualities are essential for teachers to have to keep improving and adapting their lessons to their students.
Teachers should be patient with their students, demonstrate it openly to create trust and eventually getting to know more about their needs. For example, if a teacher takes the time to answer students' questions at the end of the class, students might be more willing to be proactive, curious and ask questions. Being patient might help teachers discovering new needs and thus cover other things during their lessons.
Being observing and analytical is also key to help students improve better. For example, while correcting tests, observing and noticing recurrent mistakes might be a good way to understand what the following lessons should be focused on. Observing students' behaviors as well as their affinity between each other can also help in organizing activities to keep the class productive and efficient. Putting in the same group two students who were arguing while entering the class for example (assuming students are teenagers) might be counterproductive and disruptive for the class.
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To conclude, good English teachers should have a lot of qualities to create quality lessons, be listened to, respected and adapt their lessons according to the students' needs. I would tend to think that another quality that could make stand out English teachers is their capacity to educate their students about societal issues (environmental, social, ethical issues, etc) as well as teaching the language.
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