Being a better teacher, Bits and bobs

Teacher’s approach to learning

The worst thing that can happen to a teacher is to stop learning. It may be the moment of weaknesses or even the point of no return, because how can one be a good teacher if there is no understanding of how it feels in the learner’s shoes? Vague memories of university years are not enough.

English teachers now have so much work of all types that it is very easy to end up in a niche which requires minimum preparation for classes, little of diversity and can provide a stream of students with regular payments. Say, tutoring for primary school kids. Or, maybe, training adults for “travel English”. I don’t want to diminish the importance of these classes in any way. It is not about classes, it is not about students, only the teacher, who bogged down in that level and routines. When you know the course book by heart it is great, When you don’t look for new ways to adapt this book for that very student – it is a problem.

One of the most common complaints I hear from non-native teachers is “I forget English, all my students are maximum A2 level”. We’ve all been there, so what? You still have opportunities to keep you English alive with

  • reading books,
  • watching movies and series,
  • looking for speaking clubs or staying in touch with foreigner,
  • and, the most obvious though not popular – take a nice course book for high level and study from it. There are plenty of materials both specified (CPE/IELTS/TOEFL preparation materials) and more general – advanced and proficiency level course books. Maybe you have difficulties with a particular area? No problem, look for the books on writing, phrasal verb, pronunciation courses and whatever else. The choice is endless. The possibilities for content pirating are wide and you don’t need any investment as long as you have access to the internet.

Meanwhile, your English may be perfect or you can be a native speaker who doesn’t bother with such language-oriented problem. Still there is a huge field of teaching materials, approaches and methods that are worth to be known and put into practice. You don’t need to go into certification process or put money into it. Get a habit of reading a book on a skill or language area and try to use one or two ideas from that book in your classroom. Sounds easy, m? It really is, but the outcome will surprise you.


I understand that for one half of the readers this post is such a commonplace that they will consider reading it a waste of time. Others would be annoyed by this text and claim me being snobbish and nerdy. It’s ok. I am also ready to get comments like “I have no time. I have my family to take care of instead of reading those books and doing grammar exercises” or, even, “Why bother? My students are content with classes and I am good with my income”. Sure, you are in your right. Just make a note that everything is changing, so are the requirements. Years of experience does not mean that much if it’s just a repetition of the same book and materials with no development. Go for a change and you will be surprised. Make a little effort and it will pay back. And be always on the track of development.

The worst thing that can happen to a teacher is to stop learning.

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