Qualities that make a good Foreign Language Teacher

Back to school I am, and we wasted no time today, as we talked for hours and hours about teaching methods and what to expect from the Student Teaching experience. We started off in our subject area guidance session with the “enablers” a good foreign language teacher uses. I’ll share mine and then the classes’ responses to what we remember of our best teachers:

  • using the target language as much as possible, no matter what level (as long as you don’t leave some kids behind, it can help a lot “You don’t learn French by speaking English”)
  • using modern materials- utilize technology and sources with native speakers, use French online news and articles, TV clips and movies, and material that is not twenty years old!
  • effectively integrate culture to make learning a foreign language fun and relevant to students (learn about holidays, cultural similarities and differences between them and students in foreign countries making food always goes over well with hungry teenagers)
  • use diverse teaching methods-I probably remember every song I ever learned- use music, arts, movement, and a variety of learning in addition to reading and writing
  • make sure everyone is practicing/no one is falling behind- do not use mass oral response to questions because some students may not be pronouncing correctly or could even just be moving their lips without actually saying the words out loud

My classmates’ responses were similar, and they added more qualities:

Give meaningful feedback, give chances to make up work or correct and resubmit homework, use hands-on learning, occasionally let students ask how to say things they want to learn, encourage immersion or studying abroad experiences, give students a chance for a “new identity” by choosing foreign names, allow mistakes, and BE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE TEACHING!

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