Is my teacher good?
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
So this week we needed to fill out a course/teacher feedback form and so naturally, the people on my course were talking more about the teachers, who they preferred and why.
One of the main things I've noticed is that as a teacher, I understand better about why tasks/repetition/exercises are done and how they should be done. On the other hand, students do not always understand the purpose of something or they can get lost in the teaching format.
So what does that mean when assessing the course/teacher? It probably means that I'm more critical on some aspects (mainly teaching techniques and course materials) and more sympathetic for others (the pace of the course or the handling of adult students).
What makes a 'good' teacher in a class?
For me, it's about my level of engagement.
I'm happy to learn about grammar and it doesn't need be fun for me to enjoy it. If I get that feeling of "Oh!! I understand now!" then I am plenty engaged and I'm happy.
For group classes, it's difficult for the teacher to answer every question BUT I really enjoy listening to the different questions and answers. I might (not) know the answer but seeing another student engage in class motivates me too.
The mini-list below are more teacher-technique specific things which I think are important for group classes.
1. Clear instructions
Just once in a while, I don't know what we are doing because either I couldn't hear or was writing something down. I know which page we are on but...am I supposed to just read it?
Teacher: We must avoid using 'broken language' because it becomes much more difficult to understand what is being said. Instructions should be as clear as possible or even written down depending on the level of the class.
2. Links with real life
We learned how to order food from a roleplay. No problem. One thing I really appreciated was that the teacher used a lot more natural speech as the waiter (which we couldn't understand) so we could get comfortable listening for certain keywords so we knew how to respond appropriately.
If the teacher kept the situation too simple, it wouldn't be as realistic. The little bit of 'fear' in the roleplay honestly made it more fun and engaging. :D
Teacher: A clear context in real life should be used as much as possible. e.g. If you're ordering food at McDonalds in the roleplay- use vocabulary from McD.
Everyone needs to know how to say "chicken nuggets" in other languages.
3. The student knows WHY they are doing a particular exercise
My particular dislike right now are these "repeat after me" exercises.
They are used to practice flow of speech and pronunciation - which is fine. So all my focus should be on that. However, if the sentence is very long, I'm focusing on remembering the details of the sentence instead of focusing on the pronunciation/talking speed.
Teacher: The teacher needs to decide if the exercise is helpful and if so, what is it helping toward?
A potential fix for the problem above would be a picture or a series of pictures to prompt memory. Using Visual Learning (or other Learning types) and not just Auditory Learning will benefit the exercise.
The last one is a bit more specific for beginners but can apply to other levels of learners.
4. How much does the student know VS how much does the teacher assume the student knows
This is a bigger issue for beginner classes like mine I think. For example, I don't even know what is a 'normal' male Japanese name is. Pleaaaassse tell me before starting the listening comprehension. It's a shock when I'm expecting to hear a female voice in the conversation and it never appeared.
Teacher: It is so difficult to remember to explain very common things to beginner learners. Names are one example but others are more likely to do with culture/societal differences. For example in the UK, if you bump into someone accidently, both people will probably say "sorry". This is not the case in other countries so understanding the students' backgrounds are important in providing roleplay context.
...so... are my teachers good?
Yeh I think they are. They have different strengths but I am still enjoying both classes. I have some minor issues and some things can definitely be improved but I think they deal with the most important part well - they are willing to communicate with the students.