HERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO AVOID SAYING TO YOUR STUDENTS AS THEIR ENGLISH TEACHER

“ENGLISH IS FUN AND EASY!”

There is nothing instant, fun or simple about studying a language for someone who needs to thrive on learning a new system of communication and whose job depends on it. We do not all have the same needs and wants. So before being enthusiastic and eager to teach, be more empathetic and understanding of who is sitting in front of you and their own engagement level. Never assume it is easy for them, no matter how enthusiastic YOU are about their journey.

“DID YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?”

If you are using only English to teach your foreign class, never ask if students understood what they just read or listened to. Some may say yes, some might shake theirs heads or nod. In fact, their answer would not give you ANY proof whatsoever as to what really was or was not understood. Every activity that is considered INPUT of the target language (TL) should always come with a brief comprehension task which will then inform you if what mattered was, in fact, understood by them. How deeply you think they actually understood something comes into play as well. This means preparing input beforehand to guide your students towards what YOU, the teacher, knows to be valuable to that particular class, and posing the right questions to investigate how well something was indeed understood. 

“NO”

Most teacher trainers advise us not to use the NO word as often, as it is discouraging to some students as well as repetitive, negative, counterproductive, and so on.

Some suggestions you could adopt might be:

  • “Could you say that again?” – with dubious face expression (this allows time to self-correct);
  • “Have another go” – you could also give a second chance by ignoring the wrong answer and giving another hint or two, or three;
  • “Very close, actually it is better to say …”

WE DON’T SAY THAT”

First of all who is WE? The nation your are from? The town you now live in? The board panel you summon every weekend to decide on everything English related? I get it, it makes everything you say next sound more authoritative and official, it adds more credit to what is coming next. I personally feel that even non-native english speaking teachers do this too, because WE have the impostor syndrome rooted within ourselves, but we must absolutely refrain from this habit. Why? Because unless you are teaching a particular culture or specific RP, it is irrelevant what or how YOU (the plural you) say anything. English needs to be seen a a global language and the sooner that happens, the better for teachers and learners alike.  #whodiedandmadeyouking

MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL IS NOT WHAT YOU SAY BUT HOW YOU TREAT YOUR STUDENTS.  

Repeat after me: EVERY AGE GROUP IS NOT THE SAME!

The world is full of English teachers who have the tendency to speak to full grown adults as if they were primary students. Just because you are an English teacher do not assume your students are beneath you in any way. Do not go into “school teacher – pupil” mode with any of your adult students. 

I do not care if you are teaching “MY NAME IS”, do it normally or stick to teaching children. Normally meaning: no flashcards, no bag of tricks, no “Simon says”. Do not be a goofball with your adult students, they are past that age!

Photo Credit: @Annalightpro

2 Comments

  1. Magda says:

    Love the bit about not treating all like kids. A smart, self-taught intermediate student asked me once to stop using some tasks from the coursebook which felt like games or puzzles. He said he wanted to learn to communicate and do business in English, not solve logical puzzles. He had a point.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. the_non_native_speaker says:

      Absolutely! I always cringe when I see that happening. It often happens when we switch from one learner group to another, it can happen to anyone, but we have to be aware of it. Appreciate your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s