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The good ELS 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:
  • Step 1 - Be & Do Phrases (affirmative, interrogative and negative) - 1½ month
  • Step 2 - Present Continuous - 1 week
  • Step 3 - Personal Pronoun Forms - 1 week
  • Step 4 - There to be - 1 week
  • Step 5 - Past Tense - 1 month
  • 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 immediatetd 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 atd 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 btd 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 teenagtd 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".

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