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Importance of a Teacher

58 posts in this topic

I feel that a teacher is very important when learning any language. I think so because a teacher can give you the most complete knowledge; a teacher will be able to teach you personally in the way you learn best, a teacher can change the syllabus specifically to meet your strengths and weaknesses and a teacher will also be able to rectify any errors you are making as soon as possible. Therefore, I feel that language learning is done best with a teacher.

What do you feel about this?

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I agree.  My attempts to learn a language independently have not gone well.  I feel that I do need a teacher in order to be successful.

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Having a teacher in learning a language is definitely most helpful. Whether it's important or not, it's really up to the learner. Does the learner want to learn more and fast? Then, having a teacher is definitely most important as the learner will have someone to talk to, allowing interaction. Language is highly interactive. Sure, you can learn by yourself, but having a teacher gives one more focus.

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I agree and disagree. If you want to learn a language properly (meaning grammar, history, vocabulary diversity, and etc) a teacher is definitely the best way to go. But they tend to teach you the book version. That's why many beginner and intermediate students have a hard time understanding natives when they speak. So, if you want to learn a language for informal communication purposes, I think learning from friends, family, and tv shows are great too.

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I do agree with what is been said. A teacher is more capable than the student because the teacher has already gone through what is being taught. Teachers are able to help the student through whatever may be the problem by giving answers and coming up with strategies that will make the student be better.

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  Agreed with Takibari. I am a teacher and I feel very good reading through this thread. However, SpringBreeze, not every teacher teaches exactly the same, just as not every student learns the same. In my experience it is a delicate balance of personality, and teaching style, learner preference, subject matter, learner motivation and many other subtle things that make for a good teacher/student balance/pairing.

  As a teacher I can say that flexibility is the key. I do my best to tailor my lessons/sessions to my student needs and make the most of what I have to work with. It it much easier to teach something to someone that they are interested in learning, curious about, or desire to look at in a new light.

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I readily agree with all that is being said. My high school foreign language teacher was the only one in the school that taught Latin - an exclusive choice for IB students. To put it bluntly, if he taught all of the students in my school, everyone would be vying for valedictorian. Not only did he implement and encourage strong studying habits, he always offered constructive criticism and never put us down for struggling with difficult translations.

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I agree. I don't think it is a requirement to learning a language but it certainly helps. I had lots of teachers to teach me my secondary languages and I got to learn it in a much fuller way than I ever would have if I went about it on my own. Also, it helps a lot when you have someone to practice with and someone who is there to correct your mistakes.

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I feel that a teacher is very important when learning any language. I think so because a teacher can give you the most complete knowledge; a teacher will be able to teach you personally in the way you learn best, a teacher can change the syllabus specifically to meet your strengths and weaknesses and a teacher will also be able to rectify any errors you are making as soon as possible. Therefore, I feel that language learning is done best with a teacher.

What do you feel about this?

I absolutely agree with you. A teacher is a very important factor in language learning. It is the teacher who helps you when you don't understand something. It is the teacher who encourages you to keep learning (at times, not having anyone with the same interests as you can be very discouraging - it has happened to me several times already). And it is the teacher who guides you through the process.

But it is also essential (maybe even equally essential) that you're learning a language in a small group, or even better, individually or with one to two other students. This is the optimal environment in which a teacher can equally assess every student and provide the stimulus the students need to respond and learn. Large groups can be clumsy. There is always something left unexplained and so on...

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Definitely, teachers or language instructors are very important in learning a new language. They can create a specific program or have a lesson plan based on a person's ability to learn the language. They are also using other tools and approaches to make it easier to learn.

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A teacher can definitely help provided s/he have a vast knowledge of the certain language. Teachers may help but you can also learn the language from language apps, books and even from movies specially if you want to learn the basics. It is also helpful if you have someone with you like a friend, family or relative who is fluent with the language willing to guide you with the basics.

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Having a teacher will greatly help you in areas where self-study or self-review is not sufficient.  Of course, the teacher must also be up-to-date with his stock knowledge and enrich himself.  Like the student, the teacher is also expected to study his lessons and keep abreast of the latest developments in the language.  In that way, he can help the student and update him on any changes.  Learning is not just one-way, but a two-way process - while the student assiduously studies his lessons, the teacher prepares his lesson plans, and when the class starts, both are expected to contribute to the discussion.

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Having a teacher will greatly help you in areas where self-study or self-review is not sufficient.  Of course, the teacher must also be up-to-date with his stock knowledge and enrich himself.  Like the student, the teacher is also expected to study his lessons and keep abreast of the latest developments in the language.  In that way, he can help the student and update him on any changes.  Learning is not just one-way, but a two-way process - while the student assiduously studies his lessons, the teacher prepares his lesson plans, and when the class starts, both are expected to contribute to the discussion.

Yes, of course. I completely agree with you. A teacher must be fully prepared for the class and prepared to help the student as much as possible, but he or she must also be flexible. Sometimes plans need to change. Whether he or she had planned a new lesson or not, there should always be another option - revision. Sometimes it's just too much for the student. The vocabulary, the grammar... both can overwhelm, so piling up new lessons would be counterproductive in that case and would lead nowhere.

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You're absolutely right with that. I know that due to our fast-paced technology, there are now other alternatives for learning a new language. There are apps, software, and online videos. But having a live teacher is still the best option because you will always need guidance while learning. And a teacher can definitely give you that.

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  Agreed with Takibari. I am a teacher and I feel very good reading through this thread. However, SpringBreeze, not every teacher teaches exactly the same, just as not every student learns the same. In my experience it is a delicate balance of personality, and teaching style, learner preference, subject matter, learner motivation and many other subtle things that make for a good teacher/student balance/pairing.

  As a teacher I can say that flexibility is the key. I do my best to tailor my lessons/sessions to my student needs and make the most of what I have to work with. It it much easier to teach something to someone that they are interested in learning, curious about, or desire to look at in a new light.

You are absolutely right. I was just generalizing there. Every thing depends on the teacher, the student, the country, and the social atmosphere.

In another thread, I said the benefits of learning through social interaction also depended on who you were hanging out with. If you hang out mostly with people who speak slang and say grammatically incorrect phrases, you will learn the language poorly. It's all really about the variables.

I've been in many language classes where students came out speaking as little as they first came in. That's one of the reasons why I now find classes (in general) to be very effective with written communication and reading comprehension, but ineffective for verbal communication.

Someone here also talked about the necessity to have smaller learning groups or individual classes. I totally agree with that. That would definitely help. I also think teachers need to spend more time forcing students to speak to each other - not just read out loud essays and paragraphs in front of the class. Reading out loud is great for pronunciation correction but it's not great for learning communication.

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I disagree :/ my teachers in Spanish were terrible. They only cared that we passed the tests, barely knew how to teach...it was the self learning that really helped

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I disagree :/ my teachers in Spanish were terrible. They only cared that we passed the tests, barely knew how to teach...it was the self learning that really helped

And most probably, you had to spend much more time learning Spanish than you did when learning other subjects, simply because there was no one to guide you. And when you have, let's say, ten subjects, you don't really have time to figure things out on your own, and somehow you keep postponing that one subject which isn't really important until you really have to work on it. Having a good teacher prevents this. You find yourself working on a regular basis and you understand much more - the lectures actually mean something to you and help you when you're preparing for the test. This is my opinion at least. With a good teacher, you even find yourself loving the subject, not just learning it because you have to.

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I am inclined to agree based on my personal experience of course. I have attempted learning a few languages such as Mandarin on my own and wow was that frustrating! Having a teacher ensures that you grasp some of the fundamentals of a specific language and really get the gist of the actual language. Plus I also simply believe in two heads being better than one. Sometimes a person can't be as objective about their progress as the next person might be.

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The importance of a teacher can never be overemphasized.Without him/her,learning would be impossible to say the least. This is especially so when it comes to foreign languages where it's essential to learn the basics from a qualified tutor who should be present to guide you.

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These are all valid comments; however, the word "teacher" is very general.

I taught ESL for 32 years in a number of contexts. From private classes to groups of up to 50 students (thank the gods that big group only happened once-- it was grueling!), I would have to consider myself more of an "informant" and "coach" than an actual "teacher". I'll give you all an example.

In more than one occasion, I had been team-teaching with another teacher, dividing the material into two general categories: grammar and speaking/listening. Though I consider grammar an important foundation for language learning, and have taught my share, I was usually assigned the speaking/listening part of the team work.

In almost every case in which students had me for their listening/speaking, they would gripe about the contrast with the grammar classes. Naturally, speaking/listening, or communication, or whatever you want to call it, gives leeway for much more creative and even fun activities than grammar. On the other hand, in so many instances, the grammar teacher of the team stood before the board, made charts and gave lectures, which naturally tended to bore the pants off the students.

Though grammar and structure are kind of the "maths" of language learning, there is no reason for the teaching of that material to be stand-in-front-of-the-board-and-lecture boring stuff. Even when I was required to teach grammar, I found that the same fun, interesting, improvisational activities helped my students to understand all that basic, foundation material, despite its "boring" nature.

So, though a teacher may be helpful in language learning, that teacher must also make the effort to ensure that the presentation of any and all of the material be appropriate for the age group, catch their interest and motivate them to want to come back for more. Simply having a teacher who explains things to you will not be stimulating (unless you really love grammar!).

I'll add that I became fluent in Spanish without a teacher, probably because I'm a linguist and find learning language fun, interesting and somewhat easy. Though a teacher may have been able to explain and inform, in my case it was the immersion into the Spanish culture that got me speaking in just about a year.

peace,

revel.

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In almost every case in which students had me for their listening/speaking, they would gripe about the contrast with the grammar classes. Naturally, speaking/listening, or communication, or whatever you want to call it, gives leeway for much more creative and even fun activities than grammar. On the other hand, in so many instances, the grammar teacher of the team stood before the board, made charts and gave lectures, which naturally tended to bore the pants off the students.

Though grammar and structure are kind of the "maths" of language learning, there is no reason for the teaching of that material to be stand-in-front-of-the-board-and-lecture boring stuff. Even when I was required to teach grammar, I found that the same fun, interesting, improvisational activities helped my students to understand all that basic, foundation material, despite its "boring" nature.

Alright, don’t get me wrong, but I love this “traditional” way of teaching grammar. I’m studying English language and literature and I’ve always had at least three hours of grammar at once. This year, we’re doing Syntax (Morphosynax last year) and I must admit that I like the lectures (the teacher showing us slides with charts, examples of pro-forms and ellipsis, the theory of usage of coordinators... and what else) more than exercises, which we also have, Mondays, where we have a whole range of different exercises to do - from filling the gaps, to true-false, rewriting sentences, multiple choice, recognising one grammatical function, syntactic features, etc. etc.

I don’t mind the exercises, they’re easy and sometimes even “fun”, but I like listening to the lectures more. Which brings me to my point - there are various “types” of students: when it comes to me, I learn the best when the teacher gets straight to the point (with little to none conversation at the beginning of the class) and starts to lecture right away. Creativity is alright, but it often doesn’t help me. I’ve had my share of teachers who presented the lectures creatively and then demanded that we learn from the textbook for the exam... it was exhausting and completely different from what we’d listened to at the lectures - at least be consistent. I’ve also had my share of teachers who are “dull lecturers” - to most. I’d never had problem listening to the lectures, although I always have my book with me, so I follow at the same time... not sure how much this contributes.

Still, three hours of grammar lectures about generating trees and x-bar theory, no problem. Drawing trees on the blackboard of various complex sentences for three hours, no problem. Easy exercises and games... please, just an hour. There’s always going to be someone like this. What do we do then?

So, though a teacher may be helpful in language learning, that teacher must also make the effort to ensure that the presentation of any and all of the material be appropriate for the age group, catch their interest and motivate them to want to come back for more. Simply having a teacher who explains things to you will not be stimulating (unless you really love grammar!).

I agree. Age appropriate presentation is always necessary. If you’re teaching small children, you can’t teach fractions without bringing an apple or something similar to the class. It’s too abstract. Just like you can’t teach colours without bringing them into the class with you. Or present perfect tense, for that matter, or something similar. But you also have to explain - I’d had a teacher who wanted us to discover things on our own, but never gave us enough material to work with - I was puzzled. So was the rest of the class. No one dared say anything... I remember one instance. We were 10 and she had us doing reported speech (English is not my native language, and so it was the first time I’d seen reported speech). She wrote several complex sentences on the blackboard, some of them were shifting tense backwards, some weren’t. No one knew why. We just saw sentences where tenses mixed and changed and present perfect became past perfect... and sometimes it didn’t! Where are rules?! With just the sentences on the blackboard and no book to check for the rules (if I’d had that then...) - Only later did I notice that she didn’t write everywhere “she says” but sometimes it was “she said” and that changed everything. I’d never, and I mean, never, been so confused. This had also happened when we were learning passive a few years before then - I may have been... eight or nine? I can’t remember. The teacher had given us simple sentences - shifting present simple active to present simple passive, past simple active to past simple passive. Easy, right? For two weeks, we’d done ONLY present simple and past simple. And then exam came. And I’d seen sentences with present perfect continuous, future continuous, past perfect continuous, present continuous... for a child who’d NEVER seen sentences being shifted to passive in continuous form, it was one of the most difficult tests I’d ever done. I’d figured it out, but it was a miracle. I was so insecure and so puzzled.  Even after I’d always been wary of passives. You know when children come home complaining how the teacher didn’t explain things and then gave a difficult test? This time it was true. It didn’t happen again, though. Someone must have complained...

I'll add that I became fluent in Spanish without a teacher, probably because I'm a linguist and find learning language fun, interesting and somewhat easy. Though a teacher may have been able to explain and inform, in my case it was the immersion into the Spanish culture that got me speaking in just about a year.

It’s possible of course, but teacher can point you in the right direction or help you when you’re struggling. It “speeds” things up.

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I agree with you, provided that the teacher is really an expert in teaching the language or any subject matter that s/he's teaching. Sometimes, teachers are knowledgeable but they do not know how to impart the lesson well and to the level the students will understand and learn. Nevertheless, this speaks volume of how important the teacher is to what and how much the students will learn. When a teacher has mastery of his/her lesson, has an excellent teaching skill and all the qualities a brilliant teacher possesses, the students will greatly learn and benefit from the lessons.

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I totally agree with you, having a teacher is essential to learning a new language. That way when you make a mistake they are there to give you an indication, and prepare a way to help you remember and not to repeat the mistake.

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I agree with you, provided that the teacher is really an expert in teaching the language or any subject matter that s/he's teaching. Sometimes, teachers are knowledgeable but they do not know how to impart the lesson well and to the level the students will understand and learn. Nevertheless, this speaks volume of how important the teacher is to what and how much the students will learn. When a teacher has mastery of his/her lesson, has an excellent teaching skill and all the qualities a brilliant teacher possesses, the students will greatly learn and benefit from the lessons.

True, but we have to bear in mind that every teacher is like that in the beginning. It takes time to get used to teaching... to make it seem more like a routine than challenge, although I believe it never stops being a challenge.  Young teachers usually fit this profile - knowledgeable but doesn't know how to impart knowledge. One year is usually how long it takes them to get over that "first shock" and be both knowledgeable and start to learn how to impart knowledge. Realistically, it's some five to ten years until you can say they're excellent teachers.

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The teacher is one important ingredient in language learning. He isn't just someone who imparts information, or who shares theoretical knowledge, but a teacher is, and should be a great motivator and leader. I cannot recall how many times I have encountered students who intially, are so interested in learning the language, only to be discouraged when the harder aspects of language learning start creeping up. An excellent teacher knows just that, and develops methods and ways to keep his students energized, motivated and always in topnotch learning mood.

In short, a language teacher's job is not easy, but it is a noble task that could change people's lives. I salute teachers, who through thick and thin, are able to mold effective foreign language speakers, who also may be teachers themselves someday. There is a great difference between being able to just SPEAK and being able to TEACH a language.

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