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THE GOOD ESL TEACHER

• Speaks the target language to the students at all times, even outside the
classroom. Builds up a friendly relationship in English with each student. If a
native speaker, never practices Portuguese with students; makes other friends for
that. (Occasionally might allow himself/herself to be in the role of learner trying
to perform some Portuguese difficulties, only with the purpose of raising the
student's self-esteem.)

• Pretends not to understand very well the students' native language. Whenever
the student derails into Portuguese, the teacher rephrases the ideas in English to
bring them back on track.

• Maintains good student participation and makes sure each student gets an equal
share of participation and attention.

• Teaches a good deal of culture along with the language.

• Hardly ever translates: explains in simple English and illustrates with examples.
Is creative in using synonymous forms or different language.

• Is not self-centered, but learner-centered.

• Does not introduce grammar topics. Creates the necessary grammar explanation
to elucidate specific difficulties at the moment they occur.

• Downplays the importance of the grammar knowledge offered, not


demonstrating superiority.

• When explaining grammar, leads the student to discover a rule by providing


plenty of practical examples.

• Does not leave the student without an answer.

• Gears the lesson to the ability, level and interests of the student.

• Is goal oriented, especially with beginners. For example, the syllabus for one
semester with fast learning students could be:
o Step 1 - Be & Do Phrases (affirmative, interrogative and negative) - 1½ month
o Step 2 - Present Continuous - 1 week
o Step 3 - Personal Pronoun Forms - 1 week
o Step 4 - There to be - 1 week
o Step 5 - Past Tense - 1 month
o Step 6 - Future Tense - 3 weeks

• Uses imagination - creates original examples and varies questions to avoid


monotony.

• Gives the student time to answer before interrupting or prompting.


• Uses imagination to understand what the student means.

• When the student speaks, concentrates on both the meaning and on the linguistic
forms at the same time.

• Regards mistakes as insignificant accidents never overreacting but still


correcting them. Makes positive corrections: Gives the right form and
immediately forgets what the mistake was. Never imitates a student's mistake;
reinforces the correct form. Seldom says, "No." Never laughs or makes a face at
a mistake.

• Is very patient, may correct the same mistake from the same student over 50
times, but always as if it were the first time. Demonstrates great empathy and
maintains a positive attitude.

• Whenever possible, replaces the concept of right/wrong in language by


usual/unusual and acceptable/unacceptable.

• Speaks at a normal rate. Does not over-enunciate.

• Begins and ends each session with a quick review (5 - 10 minutes).

• Makes sure that the student has the necessary materials (tapes, books, etc.) and
knows how to use them.

• Encourages (but never pushes) the student to do homework assignments


regularly.

• Begins and ends lessons punctually.

• Shows interest in and concern for the student.

• Motivates and challenges the student.

• Welcomes the student enthusiastically and is friendly at all times.

• Is very diplomatic, intelligent and acts as mediator when discussing politics,


morality, religion, or any controversial subjects. Demonstrates empathy but
avoids radical opinions; respects all kinds of views and never gets himself too
involved or excited. No stereotypes.

• Is versatile: talks about economics and politics acting as a businessman when


teaching businessmen; talks about music, sex and drugs becoming a teenager
when teaching teenagers; plays and laughs like a child when teaching children.

• Would ideally be a psychologist interested in languages, with a friendly


personality and native speaker of the students' target language.

• Has seen and enjoyed the movie "The Dead Poets Society".