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IN THE CLASSROOM what you want them to learn.

This

Patience
doesnt signal defeat for the teacher; its
just how people learn. Even though we
plan syllabuses very rigorously, there
will always be a gap between our good
intentions and the actual working of the
students minds. The result of this
willingness to wave goodbye to

is a virtue
syllabuses and plans is that you can give
your students the time and space to fully
internalise what you are trying to teach
them.
4 Dont intervene before a
learning opportunity has
definitely passed.
Paul Bress praises a much-forgotten quality. Sometimes, a teachers anxieties make it
very difficult (painful even) to listen to a

I
t hardly needs stating that English thoughts, feelings and intentions. When student struggling over a word, phrase,
language teaching has changed we are preoccupied with our own clause, sentence or longer utterance.
radically over the last generation. concerns, we absolutely detest operating Silences are often, for some strange
For one thing, it never even used to be at a speed that is different from our own. reason, considered to be the enemy. But
called ELT (it was EFL when I started If, instead, we can try to engage in a behaviourist days are long gone. We
my teaching career). For another, there more empathic style of communication, must not expect our students to behave
have been significant methodological then our impatience is likely to lose a lot like performing seals! They need time in
changes, with the emphasis now much of its fuel. As we listen (and watch) our which to hypothesise, begin, self-correct,
more on deciding on, and helping students more intently, we should find reformulate and finally produce a piece
students achieve, communicative that we change both mentally and of English which reflects their best
objectives rather than talking about the physiologically. Empathic listening efforts. To jump in before this process is
target language. And finally, there have should help rid us of our impatience and realised is to rob them of a valuable
been enormous technological changes: allow us to teach much much better. learning opportunity.
with each passing year, more and more
2 Dont move your body around
teaching, testing and independent
learning is done online. nervously.
Even though everything is so much
If you engage in an empathic way of
faster today than it used to be, I think
Patience is an ability communicating, then this should follow
the need for patience is just as important
naturally. However, sometimes its a
But there is one aspect of language as it ever was. When things go wrong in
good idea to give yourself that extra
teaching that remains as important as this digital age, they tend to fail
chance to empathise properly. This
ever perhaps even more so now. The completely. How many times have you
means sitting comfortably on a chair so
quality I am referring to is patience. As been unable to send a text, or record a
that you are at eye level with your
a (very poor) practitioner of yoga, I am programme on your digibox, or
student(s). Lean back, stretch your legs
more aware of my yoga tutors ability to download something from a website?
out, intertwine your fingers and relax. If
be patient with me than I am of any The scope for disappointment today is
you are constantly pacing up and down
other ability. The same applies, enormous. It is important to nurture our
the classroom, you will cease to be able
assuredly, to our ELT students. Many of patience both inside and outside the
to enter into the individual worlds of
these, particularly students with little ELT classroom, and this should prove
your students.
self-confidence, must really crave a beneficial to both our home and
patient teacher. Against this 3 Be prepared not to meet the professional lives.
background, what practical steps can we learning objectives (when its
take in order to increase our patience clearly not possible). Paul Bress lives in
Herne Bay, UK, where
and, thereby, offer our students the time Of course, its generally a good principle he teaches English to
and space in which to learn effectively? overseas students and
not only to set communicative also writes novels and
Here are four suggestions: objectives, but also to do your very best paints. His novels are:
The Man Who Didnt Age,
to help your students to achieve them. The Dysfunctional Family,
1 Try to imagine what it is like to
However, its the mark of a more For Adults Only, The
be your students (especially enlightened teacher to be able to let go
Check-out Operator and
Life Swap, all published
those who are struggling with of the above principle on certain by Fast-Print and
the language). occasions. Your students heads are full available on Kindle. His
paintings can be viewed
This is, by far, the most important step. of any number of preoccupations and at http://paulbressgallery.
Impatience derives, largely, from a blogspot.co.uk.
distractions. Sometimes they are not in a
paulbress@talktalk.net
compulsive preoccupation with our own psychological state of readiness to learn

www.etprofessional.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 87 July 2013 11