Ok, this video will be an introduction to the characteristics of a good teacher of ESL students. If you completed the pre-videos survey, you will have chosen your top three from this list. Of course all of these characteristics are important. Good ESL teachers have a deep knowledge of how students learn a new language, and they have personal qualities such as diligence, patience and a positive attitude. But these characteristics cannot be taught or learned in the duration of a short series of videos such as these. Instead, we will focus on three aspects of ESL teaching that you can begin to understand now and then put into practice in the Kalahari: firstly, how to ask good questions, secondly, what makes English difficult, and thirdly, comprehensibility, or how to ensure that your students understand what you say to them and understand what you give them to read.
So, let's start with the topic of asking questions. This quote from a handbook for new teachers makes it clear how important questions are for good teaching. You are all used to teachers asking you questions in class but you may not have realised that questions have different functions. Note that the examples that follow will apply to all teachers, not only to ESL teachers.
So, the first type of question can be called interpersonal questions. These are the questions that establish friendly and positive relationships in the class. A typical interpersonal question from a teacher might be: "Did you have a good weekend?" or "Are you planning to try out for the basketball team?" Questions like these are very important in the Kalahari in order to quickly establish a friendly, trusting relationship with the students you are teaching. They will then feel more comfortable answering your questions and asking questions of their own.
The second kind of question has the function of classroom management. For example, you need to check if students understand what they have to do, or if they have finished the work. Asking a question is often a less direct way of giving a command. A teacher who asks the question: "Why are you talking?" does not want the student to answer with a reason ("I'm talking because the lesson is boring)". The teacher simply wants to issue a softer command than the direct "Stop talking and listen". This aspect of language is called pragmatics and we will come back to that in a later video.