Fact: students who have a growth mindset outperform students who don’t. Another fact: you can help develop a growth mindset for students (and develop one yourself while you’re at it.
How much time do you spend updating your knowledge? How many of your TEFL teaching beliefs are now outdated? New research is released daily, about language acquisition, linguistics, neuromyths that just won’t die. … how sure are you that what you know is really up to date?
What if we could make learning a language as addictive as chocolate, computer games or TV? What if we could make learning English so enjoyable that it became something that students did when they procrastinate, rather than something they procrastinate from doing?
Some would say it’s already changed. It used to be that if you were a language student, you had to come to us, the experts. Language schools, teachers, and course books were the gatekeepers that controlled access to knowledge. It used to be that you had to come through us if you wanted to learn a language.
Does it strike you as strange that as language teachers, we teach something that many of us have never done? I’m talking about learning second language to a high level.
For those of us that have learned or are learning a language to a reasonable level, we can empathise with our students and help them to a greater degree.
What is language, if not a means to connect with other people? We all have an innate need to communicate, to connect with other people.
In education, this is especially important. Too many teachers communicate without connecting. They just ‘don’t care anymore’.
So why does connection matter in language teaching?
Sometimes being a TEFL teacher sucks. Times when you've got an incredible workload, endless admin, and no energy.
Sometimes though, you're not tired because of the amount of work, but the kind of work you're doing. You're stuck in a rut, repeating yourself, and can't get the impetus to kick yourself out of it.
We should be teaching learners the skills they need to learn a language, not just the language itself. Where students are too young to understand this, we should be motivating them to want to ‘do stuff’ at home in English.
Let’s be honest, as an industry to choose a career in, the TEFL industry does have a train-wreck of a reputation.
It’s easy to see why; a low barrier to entry combined with world travel (i.e. escapism) seemingly provides a path for people to escape their current troubles and start afresh.
It’s that simple.
Learning a language is a huge task that needs time, energy, and motivation. Students are not going to be able to learn English from being in your lesson for two hours a week.
I’m sure that many of you are already familiar with TED.com, the site that spreads ideas from leading thinkers in their field.
There’s one talk I’d like to draw your attention to, as it holds so many ideas that are relevant to us in the TEFL and language education field. As a bonus, it'll even make you laugh a couple of times.
Think about the best teacher you’ve ever had. Doesn’t matter if it was a language teacher or not. Picture them, remember one of their classes.
Now… why did you pick them? What did they do that earned them the prestigious ‘Your Best Teacher Award’?
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.
You don’t bother to get to know the new teacher (or even learn their name) until they’ve worked at least three months (or pass probation, whichever is later)…
Most teachers have no idea why they do what they do.
The best teachers you’ll ever meet are the ones that take the time to analyse their actions and decisions in TEFL teaching. They consider how each action affects their students and colleagues.
You walk out of class and do a fist pump “YESSSS!”. A technically perfect lesson.
You delivered everything in the lesson plan exactly as planned. Down-to-the-frickin’-minute. Instructions were sharp. Classroom management was impeccable. Your graded language was flawless. The students completed their tasks on time and to spec.
So why do you have a little voice of doubt nagging at the back of your mind?
Keeping a reflective teaching diary is a pain in the bum.
We’re all told to do it to make us better teachers. What ‘they’ don’t realise though, is that in the real world, it’s just not possible (at least not to the standards that they hold).
Or should we be teaching language learning skills and providing a ton of motivation? What is our job, really?
It’s a powerful precision tool, that’s why.
Teacher talking time (TTT) has a bad reputation. It’s easy to see why – too many teachers talking too much, stealing their students’ talking time, and being boring. This hurts students’ motivation and willingness to communicate in class.
...is to care more.
After all the professional development, all the effort developing your technical ability, your classes will still suck unless you care.
It’s not about you, it’s about them.
As a language school customer, once I’ve paid my money I have some demands you need to meet.
Fail to meet them, and I’ll go spend my money someplace else. I’ll probably bad mouth you to all my friends on and offline, too.