Prof. IANOȘI CRISTINA LAURA
Școala Gimnazială Nr. 3 Lupeni, Hunedoara
The linguists use to say that the teacher must be an artist for the teaching is an art. The English language teacher must also be a scientist, conversant with the linguistic sciences. It is equally important that he should be a good administrator and efficient organizer. For it is nothing more tedious for the pupils than doing the same activity every day. But the thoughtful teacher varies his activities and prevents boredom from the moment he enters into the classroom.
From the very beginning the teacher must be aware of the fact that his students are mastering the language properly or they are beginners only. In this case he must pay attention because most students freeze at the thought of starting a conversation; focusing, for example, on one specific object in their classroom that can help the words start flowing. The students are threatened by the fear that they’ll appear foolish. A way to deal with the fears of students is for teachers to become “language counsellors”(J.Curran). The teacher, who can understand the students, can help them overcome their feelings. The teacher turns into a conductor and encourages his students by using warm-up questions like:
- What is it?
- What’s its size?
- Where is it?
- How did it get there?
- How was it put there?
- What is it doing?
Once the students understand how to sharpen their perception skills by concentrating on one object, the teacher may hand out some assignments as:
- Imagine yourself to be a doctor and your colleagues the patient; focus on one of them, frame questions, ask “the patient”. You must be vivid and precise.
- Choose an object on your desk and write a description of it so as to distinguish this object from your partner’s.
- If you were the mayor of the town, what would you do first and why?
But anyone who speaks English fluently is firm, inventive and patient can be a good conversation leader, one that can help the teacher. So this “right hand” of the teacher may be one of the students who has an enthusiastic attitude, which is essential in fact, and enjoys doing it. The student knows his partners because a discreet interest in them is necessary to be successful as a “leader”. He already knows their names, their problems, so that he can bring into the conversation some elements that are relevant to them. A friendly tone is desirable although he must be firm when necessary in order to control his group and to direct the conversation properly. According to Acy Jackson in a letter published in the “English Teaching Forum” – “patience, necessary in an encounter with students is especially important in a conversation class. The teacher should put himself in the place of the student. He should think of those frustrating ‘plateaus’ in his own learning, when his ability to learn more seemed to have come to a standstill. He should remember the times when he himself was afraid or ashamed to speak and someone gave him the encouragement that helped him to find the proper words. ”
Other linguists consider patience to be a virtue but too much of it may hurt. Anyhow, if patience is accompanied by authority and understanding, then a true pleasant conversation was born and the one who leads this class works with his colleagues as “whole persons” that he is considered not only their feelings and intellect but also the relationship among them, the physical reactions and their desire to learn.
Once the teacher knows his students’ level he can easily work with them. Some students prefer pattern practice in order to become fluent speakers of English and disregard conversation sessions as being a waste of time. Other students do not want to work with pattern exercises, they prefer to talk on any item the teacher suggests them. When the teacher scheduled his conversation sessions he is confronted with the new challenges for “… people always exaggerate the value of things they want to have and which they haven’t got.”(G.B. Shaw)