What makes a good teacher? This is an age-old question with a thousand different answers to suit everyone’s taste. There are different styles of teaching, different subjects and, always, different personal tastes on what somebody wants in a teacher. Some people like laid back teachers who are more of a friend than a disciplinarian, others want a teacher to give them orders and be strict. There’s no correct answer, but, at Ingla, we think we have a special perspective on which qualities make a person a good English teacher. We’ve been teaching students English (under one name or another) for almost 30 years. Whether students wanted a General English class, or to sharpen their speaking skills, to pass an Cambridge exam or IELTS, or to get a visa by passing a Trinity GESE test – Ingla has been there over the years to educate and guide students. Here are a few qualities that we think every English teacher should have.
Every good teacher, whatever the subject, needs to be patient. Teaching isn’t a profession for hotheads. Sometimes your students won’t understand what you’re trying to teach. Sometimes they won’t do their homework, even when you ask politely. Sometimes, though it’s rare, students can even be rude and impatient with their teacher. In all of these situations a good teacher needs to remain calm. Even though you might feel like it, you can’t throw a student out the window. It’s very illegal. And shouting at a class of students can look unprofessional, and leave you with a classroom full of crying students. As a good English teacher, whenever you feel like there’s smoke coming out of your ears, you have to take a deep breath, step back, and try to find a solution that works. Maybe there’s another way to explain that grammar that your students haven’t understood. Maybe the students who haven’t done their homework need a firm, calm reminder that practising and doing homework is the best way to improve in a language. And a rude student needs to be shown that his/her behaviour isn’t accepted by anyone in the classroom, even the other students. If you want to be a good teacher, you need to have a lot of patience.
No, as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher you don’t need to be able to put your foot behind your head while you teach, but you do need mental flexibility and be flexible with your schedule. Teaching at Ingla, in the Turnpike Lane and Wood Green neighbourhoods of London, you’ll have students from all over the world. We have lots of students from Turkey, Spain, and Italy to name just a few countries. Sometimes a teacher might have a classroom with half of Europe, some of Asia, and a few Latin American and African countries represented. This means having to be flexible and knowing different strategies and methods to reach and teach people who come from very different cultural and language backgrounds. You have to be flexible so that everyone is interested in the material and be able to explain it in a variety of ways so that everyone can understand it. As far as your schedule goes, you have to be able to teach (for example) two or three morning classes in a row, take a five-hour break and come back to teach a late evening class. Or, if another teacher is feeling unwell, you have to be able to rush to school an A2 class with only about 15 minutes of preparation. A good English teacher has a big bag of tricks and activities to teach any lesson at any time. Flexibility is key!
Finally, and most obviously, a good English teacher needs to have a great knowledge of the English language to be able to explain anything to their students. Whether it’s for low levels (How do I use articles?), high-level students (Which conditionals can I mix and when would I use these?), and even practical information (How do I sign up for an IELTS exam?). A good English teacher needs to answer all of these questions and more. If you’re a good English teacher, the English language is your home and you need to be able to show people around your home.
At Ingla we’re lucky to have such a talented and experienced team of teachers. Learn more about our team on our website here. If you study at Ingla we know you’ll have a great experience, because we know what makes an English teacher good!