Monday, April 14, 2008

What EFL Learners Dislike About English Language Teachers

Let’s Continue With Our Series …
In a previous article post entitled, “Common EFL Classroom Problems and What to Do About Them”, we discussed three distinctive examples of EFL classroom-related problems and some suggested management strategies for them. In this related article, we’re going to turn the tables and talk about idiosyncrasies that learners find in English or foreign language teachers. It’s not only EFL teachers who can have the “patience of Job”, but EFL and foreign language learners too may have to endure some disparate teaching traits and conditions.

Video Clip: USC Prof. MacArthur Gomez demonstrates successful interaction with a group of learners

First of all, don’t get me wrong. I think that a variety of teaching styles can be a good thing for learners. This is just one of the ways that learners can benefit from input sessions using a broader spectrum of methods and techniques than might necessarily occur by having only one a or very few teachers using only a limited number of teaching resources.

Problems however, can begin to arise when the teaching styles of a group vary enough so that they impact the overall quality of a curriculum. This brings up some aspects that EFL learners said they disliked about EFL teachers. Of the several predominant points the learners mentioned, here are some of the most recurrent.

1. Teachers Who Are Obviously Unprepared for Class
These teachers may be guilty of:

• Having few or NO prepared lessons, resources or activities to conduct classes
• Often being late for class
• Frequently having a disheveled, unkempt personal appearance

2. Boring Teachers
You know the ones they mean- you know what they’re going to do class today, this week, next week, next month or even next year for that matter because it’s always the same – BORING. Dynamics? why they seem to never have heard of the word. So learners “fight back” by bringing an unending stream of technology from mp3s, iPods and mp4s loaded with their favorite music to class just to “survive” these lackluster sessions.

3. Teachers with Poor Speech or Heavy Accents
This is one aspect that many EFL learners brought up which I could really relate to; Why? Because, years ago I had an Eastern-European-born Robotics professor who spoke English with such a heavy accent we just couldn’t understand anything he said, whenever he talked. To make matters even worse, he talked continuously from the start of class until the end of class (and beyond). His idea was to literally “tell” us everything that we needed to know for the class. Talk about a real bummer. The only two true saving graces of the course were:

• 1. He was very highly knowledgeable in his field. No one ever questioned that he lacked depth in his area of expertise. In robotics programming languages he was “off in the ozone” somewhere. Certainly at levels we never planned or hoped to go.

• 2. He wrote EVERYTHING he said on the blackboard as he said it. When he filled up the two boards with writing, he promptly went back to board number one, erased it, and started filling it up with writing again often without so much as a glance in our direction.

There Are More of Course
Certainly the list of EFL learner pet peeves doesn’t stop here. We could discuss some others in another article post. The point is, don’t YOU fall into the category of being a boring, unprepared EFL or foreign language teacher in any of the afore-mentioned aspects. As is being demonstrated in this video, teachers should strive to interact with learners, engage them and ensure their interest and participation in class sessions.

Strive to make your EFL of foreign language classes an interesting, dynamic, enriching experience for your learners and you’ll ultimately have nothing much to worry about; at least, not in these areas.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information. video


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