English is a tough subject to master, more so in a country like Singapore where books aren’t as widely read as they should be and Singlish continues to impede us in our attempts to pick up better English habits. This is why a good English teacher is so essential to the linguistic development of your child, whether in school or at an English tuition centre. What makes a good English teacher, then? Here are some traits and characteristics to look out for if you’re considering enrolling your child in English tuition.
The Ability to Develop Tailored Teaching Materials
Although components like grammar can technically be taught from a textbook, the reality is that English, like many other languages, need to be learnt holistically through a variety of activities, such as reading, writing, and conversational practices. English tuition will be more effective if the tutor is able to create a range of engaging or even challenging activities that are not necessarily bound by the syllabus, allowing students to find different approaches to tackling the language.
Clear Separation between Singlish and English
With Singlish so prevalent in our everyday lives, it’s important for a good English teacher to be able to create an environment in an English tuition class that encourages students to practise proper English speaking habits. This doesn’t eradicate Singlish altogether; rather, it develops self-awareness in students to switch between English and Singlish based on the circumstances they find themselves in. After all, the purpose of language is to communicate information as effectively as possible, and students need to know the difference between speaking colloquially to a local audience, and speaking professionally at work, school, or to an international audience.
Teaching by Example
It goes without saying that a good English teacher should already have excellent pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar skills. Students look up to English teachers as an example of what English mastery looks like, just like how they expect a Math teacher to demonstrate expert proficiency in Math. The bottom line is, your child should be able to tell the difference between the English that is used inside an English tuition centre and that used outside.
Keeping Abreast with Latest Teaching Methodologies
Pedagogy, or the art of teaching, is something that is constantly evolving to suit the psychology and learning preferences of new generations of students. For example, many students are now equipped with MOE-loaned iPads and other devices in an effort to appeal to a more tech-savvy demographic. Similarly, a good English teacher makes an effort to keep themselves updated with the latest teaching methodologies to prevent their lessons from growing stale and outdated. Ultimately, English tuition is more effective when students are engaged.
Empathy with Students
Arguably the most important trait in a good English teacher is the ability to understand their students — their preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Learning is just as much theoretical as it is psychological, so it’s important for students to feel at ease in their learning environment, knowing that their teachers understand them and are looking out for them. Additionally, a good English teacher is able to use this information to tailor activities and exercises to address specific points of weaknesses. For instance, knowing what a student’s hobby is allows a teacher to recommend relevant books to them that will nurture their interest in reading. Personalisation to this extent is often difficult in class, where a teacher has to deal with 30–40 students at once. However, at an English tuition centre, this is more feasible given the smaller class size.
These are the traits that we at Augustine English Classes prize highly, and traits that our principal tutor, Augustine, exemplifies. For more information about our philosophy, programmes, and other information about our English tuition classes, please visit our website.