"What's The Best Advice You Have Been Given As A Teacher?"
Something minor, but which I've always found helpful in a small classroom situation (like in most language schools), is to make sure that I, and not the students, am facing the windows. It's much easier to get the students to concentrate on me and what I'm saying when they don't have such an opportunity to let their eyes roam. It's also good for me to be able to get a glimpse of the outside world once in a while :)
30 odd years ago ~ God, has it been so long? ~ a teacher friend of my parents told that I never should forget that a good teacher is nothing more than a good actor. I didn't believe him then but do now. Rows with the missus,traffic jams and common cold are all problems to overcome when facing students. The show must go on.
Three pieces of advice I was given on starting teaching were "Insult them constantly - they love it"; "Set self-marking homework" and "Use DT's Roman god"(!). I didn't understand the latter never mind use it, but an older wiser teacher advised me to "use pauses all the time and looks when trying to implement discipline. Let them do all the talking." This can be hard to do and takes a bit of nerve but I've found it works well in my experience. They realise within a few minutes they're wasting their own time (in a school classroom setting of course). I've received many other pieces of advice, of which I am building a major database. I'll let you know more in a few years ;)
Jason Blean, Belfast
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Encourage your students to ask you questions so that you know what is the difficulty in their study, and also you can improve yourself when you find some questions are difficult to answer.
Just one piece of advice would be too limiting. In no particular order, here are (apologies to Letterman) my top five:
1. From a friend of mine in Oporto, Portugal, on what to say to students when they want to know why a particular expression is wrong and there's no particularly logical explanation: a) "It sounds artificial." and b) "It's not idiomatic."
2. From a forgotten ADOS somewhere, on over planning lessons: "Many a good lesson never makes it off the page and into the classroom."
3. From a lecture from Peter Viney, regarding classroom discipline: "It is better to be Hitler with a bad headache on the first day of class and the students' best friend three weeks later than to be their best friend on the first day of class and Hitler with a bad headache three weeks later."
4. I can't remember who, and I wish I could so I could keep thanking her/him, on how to explain to management the importance of teachers to a school: "Unhappy teachers do not happy students make."
5. From a DOS at a language school I met in Istanbul, on the secret to surviving life in an EFL school: "You know--keep the punters happy."
The best way I believe is to be friendly with your students. Let them compete among the class. Let them think in English rather then thinking in their language and translate in English, for that they need vocabulary so card games are the best also create initiative to learn at home few new words and reveal in class. Welcome questions and answer them very clearly if you can not then do not misguide them, ask for a time out read at home and let them know in your next class as nobody is perfect, but doing so will create a respect for you,the most important thing is that student will be having more interest and the class will be more disciplined.
The students will like you as a part of their family, that is what you need for a great achievement.
The best advice I've ever received is to be flexible with your students and never use your teaching position as a superiority tool against the students; let them know instead that your their next best friend, remember they are in school all day who else but you can they count on. Also let them know that you commit mistakes and accept them when you do, because they'll realize you're a normal person like them.
The best advice I have ever been given is to realise that when you go into a class to teach English, not to consider that you are only teaching but also learning - from your students. They have so much to give you too.
The best advice I got was that teaching a language is teaching a culture. And it is teaching communication.
The best advice was from an old man, he was a teacher too. He told me that the course wasn't important, the students were important, they had to learn to enjoy life. Studying was a way to strengthen the mind. So the primary task of a teacher should be to help students learn how to educate themselves, to become life-long-learners. School is a way to teach them skills to learn, the course is a medium.
The best advice I was given was to go in hard at the start of the course and be a bit of a bastard - then release the pressure as time goes on. I used to do the opposite. "Ooh, love me please, I am a nice teacher" and it always went pear shaped...then I would try and gain back control and it was always too late. Doing it the way I do it now means you can release control later as you see fit - it is SO much better that way!!!
Daniel, Washington State, U.S.
Always set rules at the beginning of any course, especially when you're teaching adults! The best one I've got is telling them that any other language except English is banned in the classroom because it won't help them learn how to get out of "real" situations when the time comes. I often make a playful joke about charging them €1.00 for each word and €5.00 for each sentence ... it always works!
Vanessa, The Netherlands