What makes a great language teacher?

This weekend I’m delighted to say I will be giving my first ever plenary talk at a conference. It’s amazing to think back on the ten years since I gave my first ever conference talk (almost to the day) and that I’m now being entrusted to deliver a presentation to a large audience. Anyway, I’ll be returning to my journey as a conference presenter in a later post; let me get on to what I’m going to be discussing at Uludağ University in Bursa, Turkey, this weekend…

A while ago I conducted some research on what it means to be a good language teacher, both from the perspective of us teachers and that of our learners. I intend to go into more detail about this on the blog after I’ve given my talk at the weekend, but for now I’d like to pose some of the same questions to you that I’ll be asking my audience on Saturday.

Yay! That’s me on a poster, that is.

OK, as I don’t want to give everything away, I’ll ask you a few of the questions. The idea here is simple: did a teacher say these words, or a learner? That’s all you need to do; decide if a teacher or a learner made each of the following statements! You can find the answers in my follow up, post-conference post here.

OK, here we go…

1. On the subject of what should be taught

For a strong command of English or any other foreign language, only working on grammar and writing is insufficient. The teacher must also focus on speaking, encouraging the student to speak, and to ensure that the student is relaxed while doing so.

2. On the subject of learning and the retention of knowledge

A good English teacher makes the lessons easier for the students. A good English teacher should always be able to gain our full attention. Keeping on focus is difficult when you are dealing with a language you don’t know.

3. On the sıubject of the ideal classroom environment

The teacher should not be strict without reason yet should still control the class effectively.

4. On the subject of homework

A good English teacher gives lots of homework…and should check assigned homework the next day so that students can learn from their mistakes.

Not so easy, is it?

Join me again next week, when I’ll share the answers to this mini quiz, some photos from my ‘first time’ as a plenary speaker and more on the subject of what makes a great language teacher. Wish me luck!

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2 thoughts on “What makes a great language teacher?”

  1. Hi Adam,

    First of all, congratulations on your first plenary talk 🙂

    Regarding the topic question, I think almost every teacher has asked him/her-self this question more than once even along our careers. I certainly have and still do, which I think is absolutely necessary.
    I have always liked to record feedback from students on their general ideas as well on this matter, and I also ask for personal feedback on my teaching at the end of every year.
    I would say only number 1 has been said by the teacher. The rest (2,3 and 4) I would guess they are student comments. Homework and having the classroom controlled are aspects students do appreciate when they sit to think about it. Specially the more self-motivated ones.
    As for “making the lessons easier”, this sounds quite like the facilitator role of a teacher, which makes complete sense from a students point os view as they are interested in taking charge of their learning but they want to be given the right guidance.

    Theses are my guess. Hope I got at least 1 right 🙂
    Good luck at the conference.

    Laila Khairat

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