Teaching

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  • Topic: Teacher, Education, Second language acquisition
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  • Published : May 18, 2013
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‘How to Teach English’ is an excellent book written by Professor Jeremy Harmer. It’s one of my favorite books about language teaching. I took some notes while reading and would like to share my ideas in my blog with others who also love English teaching just like me. Chapter one How to be a good teacher

What makes a good teacher?
Harmer pointed out that good teachers possess some qualities, such as an ability to give interesting classes, using the full range of their personalities, the desire to empathise with students, treating them all equally however tempting it is to do otherwise, and knowing all their names. I believe that a teacher must love her job. It is the love from her bottom of her heart that can make her a good teacher. How should teachers talk to students?

Harmer believed that the way that teachers talk to students is one of the crucial teacher skills, but it does not demand technical expertise. It does require teachers to empathise with the students they are talking to. When talking to students, experienced teachers always adapt their language and use physical moments, like gestures, expressions and mime to make themselves understood more easily, especially when talking with students at lower levels. How should teachers give instructions?

There are two general rules Harmer mentioned for giving instructions. Ø Instructions must be kept as simple as possible
Ø Instructions must be logical.
It is also very important for teachers to check whether the students really know what they are being asked to do. There are three ways to check their comprehension. Ø Ask a student to explain the activity after your instructions. Ø Get someone to show the other students in the class how the exercise works. Ø Ask a member of the class to translate the instructions. Who should talk in class?

Two terms we should know first.
TTT: Teacher Talking Time.
STT: Student Talking Time.
It’s not a difficult question. It is obvious that teacher should maximize STT and minimize TTT. But Hammer also reminded us that a teacher should not afraid to summarise at appropriate moment during the lesson. Good teachers use their common sense and experience to get the balance right. What are the best kinds of lesson?

One of the greatest enemies of successful teaching is student boredom. I totally agree. If the students frequently know what is going to happen in class, they will feel bored. There are two suggestions for teachers: Ø Violate your own behavior patterns. (e.g., if you are often in casual clothes, try a suit.) Ø Have various activities in class. (Different tasks may keep students stimulated.) But remember, too much water drowned the miller. Try to find a balance. How important is it to follow a prearranged plan?

Once again, Hammer mentioned the word balance. He believed that a balance has to be struck between teachers attempting to achieve what they set out to achieve on the one hand and responding to what students are saying or doing on the other. Good teachers recognize that their plans are only prototypes and they may have to abandon some or all of them if things are going too fast or too slow. They are flexible.

Chapter 2 How to be a good learner
Why is it difficult to describe a good learner?
Hammer pointed out that many factors need to be taken into account when considering the qualities of good learners, such as their background, their past learning experiences, their purpose to learn and their personalities. As teachers, we need to find out whether there are any generalisations which will help us to encourage habits in students which will help them, individually and/or collectively. How important is the students’ motivation?

When I was in SHNU, I took MOTIVATION as my thesis. Indeed, motivation plays a vital role in language learning. Good learners always have strong motivations to learn. But what can we...
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