So what are our two most critical skills?
Especially, as language teachers, we usually only spend two hours or less per week with our learners. This being the case. prioritising is paramount.
I believe that an ESL teachers' main skill-sets are:
1. To construct an effective language learning environment.
This is more of a ‘hard’ skill, and easy to train. This is demonstrated through ‘learnable’ activities, for example setting up communicative activities using good classroom management, and creating a safe environment where it’s OK to try and fail.
2. To motivate students by communicating emotion and building a connection.
A ‘soft’ skill, this is much harder to learn (you usually bring it to the table all by yourself). This is demonstrated by displaying passion in, and for, your teaching.
It’s this connection that makes the student practice English outside the classroom, that gives them the love of learning a language. It’s ultimately what gives them the motivation to stick with the long term slog that is learning a language.
It’s also what separates good teaching from a great teaching.