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Why is Establishing Rapport in the Classroom Important?

Why is Establishing Rapport in the Classroom Important? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Establishing rapport with your students can be quite tricky. With all of the information online about teaching methods, testing and teaching effectiveness, rapport is often left out. Many times the relationship between the teacher and the student becomes just that. The teachers teach and the student is supposed to learn.

In theory, this should work just fine but every person is different and they learn in different ways. We as teachers need to be able to create the best environment for these students to learn and feel that the teacher cares as much about what the student is learning as the student feels about what they are learning. Many universities have class sizes so large that the student feels like they are just another number and the teacher or professor doesn’t care if they pass or fail.

This can make it difficult for the student to continue to have the motivation necessary to not only come to class every day but to want to do well in the class. Although I said it can be tricky to establish rapport, there are a few things that we can do that make the students feel comfortable, motivated and that they enjoy their class.

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

Learn the names of the students

It may take some time before you can pronounce their names correctly depending on what part of the world you happen to be teaching in but it will go a long way. After you have learned their names, we should strive to use them when addressing the students. When you call on a student to answer a question or read an excerpt using their name will go a long way. The next step after we have learned their names is to learn about them.

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What are their hobbies? What are their interests and aspirations?

Not only will this help us to adapt our classwork to keep the students motivated it will also allow them to practice speaking in English. They will learn how to express what they like to do outside of work and the classroom. We all would like to be able to communicate about who we are as a person as opposed to just knowing the basics of a language. I have been living in a foreign country that English is not spoken by many people. Although I have a very basic understanding of the native language it gets very difficult to express my feelings and interests. So we as teachers want to give our students the greatest chance to succeed and learn in our classrooms. These two very easy steps can take us a long way in building our rapport with our students. We have to believe that this will ensure that our students not only come to our classes regularly but that are learning the language as well.

teacher and students

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Teacher’s attitude

Another step we can take to building our rapport is to be enthusiastic and passionate about our teaching. There is nothing worse than being in a class where the teacher seems to drone on and on speaking in a monotone voice. The students begin to get very bored, very quickly. If we are teaching adults, they may be coming to class after work so they could be tired. If our students are fatigued and we don’t seem to care about what we are teaching then it would make it difficult for them to pay attention and retain the information we are teaching. Many times people will mimic the emotions of the people around them so if we come into class excited and happy about what we are going to present we can elicit these same emotions from our students. Sometimes we can tell a joke or even be a bit self-deprecating.

Not taking ourselves too seriously can go a long way in creating a meaningful environment. If the students see that we aren’t afraid to make mistakes the may be more inclined to speak and participate in classroom activities. They know that they will make mistakes and sometimes can make them feel hesitant because they feel they may make a mistake. Sometimes these mistakes will lead them to the correct pronunciation or the right use of grammar. Anything we can do to promote student participation, we must attempt to do so. After all, we are here for them and we want them to know we are cheering for their success. The next step we can take is to make sure we are available. This can be anywhere from showing up early to staying a little later after class.

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There may be times when a student may want to spend ten minutes after class to clarify something in the lesson that there wasn’t enough time to address during class or possibly have a question that didn’t pertain lesson. We may be their only access to the English language so sometimes we may want to let the classes know that they can e-mail or even call us if they have a question. They may only have a few classes a week and if an issue arises they may want to be able to call on a lifeline. I’m not saying we need to be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week but if they know that we will help them as much as we can our rapport grows stronger.

The principles of respect

The final step that we can do encompasses all of these previous steps and it boils down to respect. We want to treat every student with respect no matter how young or how old they may be. We should strive to treat each student with the same respect, the good students and too troublesome students. There is an old saying that respect is earned and not given. If we want our students to respect us then we should treat them with some respect. Respect and professionalism can go a long way in building our rapport with the students we are teaching. Although there are many other steps we can take to establish our rapport, if we do our best to implement these five steps, we give ourselves and the students the best chance possible to not only succeed but to feel comfortable, motivated and enjoy as many classes as possible. If the students know we are there to help them in any way that we can, we take an interest in them and treat them with respect, we have taken the biggest step in creating an environment that will cultivate learning and that excitement to learn.

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Apply now & get certified to teach english abroad!

Speak with an ITTT advisor today to put together your personal plan for teaching English abroad.

Send us an email or call us toll-free at 1-800-490-0531 to speak with an ITTT advisor today.

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