What makes an excellent teacher?

Updated: 25/10/2021

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Online English teacher
What really makes a good teacher? That’s honestly a question to which I am still not able to give a proper answer even after having spent the last 5 years of my career teaching to students of different ages and aims. 

What is a great ESL teacher?

To start with, in my opinion, a good teacher is someone who really puts his heart into teaching. Let’s be honest, teaching is not an easy job! It can be stressful at times, many times in fact! You might find yourself working extra hours to make sure that your students will be able to pass their exams with decent grades or you might end up working at night to make your lessons more interesting and engaging just to capture students’ attention, trying to mix up the right syllabus and grammar structures in the perfect song or in the perfect reading and comprehension, that to be honest, doesn’t exist! 

So if you’re reading this article, you better start writing the song or reading text that covers the grammar and vocabulary that you need to cover in the current unit your students are working on right now.  Anyway, there are tips that I’ve been learning in the last years of my career and that I am going to share with you readers, that might enable you to help new EFL teachers that are struggling to find the magic potion that separates a normal teacher from a “good one”.  

I’d start by saying that a teacher has got many roles to fill during classes.  He/She must always smile, must always be open to explain or re-explain the lesson and must always be very patient, to help students connect with more complex topics. 
Sometimes students are extra busy or simply have their own issues. In this case, the teacher should be able to interact with them to make them feel at ease.  

Teaching involves employing a range of skills

Teachers should not get upset or even worse, give up on the students who are not so strong in their studies. Instead, they should have the patience to slowly teach them, give them extra lessons, and find different ways to encourage them.  Building a good relationship with the students is vital and helps them to learn faster, keeps their attention alive and above all makes them feel more motivated and confident

As far as I am concerned a confident student does always better than a student who is skilled but not confident enough to speak up and show how much he knows. That’s a real pity, so it’s our job to work more on helping them to build self confidence

Having a good relation with students really helps. If students like the teacher, they will learn the language automatically while having fun. The ability to build caring relationships with students is easier than you think; just be passionate and don’t forget to be yourself!  

English Group Classes

Working in groups or pairs can be very useful to younger and even older students. It could give them more time for speaking practise or give them a sense of achievement when they reach a team goal. It teaches them how to lead and how to be led by someone else who isn't your professor and also allows the teacher to monitor the students, while listening to the language they are producing.  

ESL Lesson Planning

I’d also consider Lesson Planning of vital importance for a good teacher before starting. Excellent preparation and organisation skills provide students the best quality time. If the lesson is well-prepared and organised,  students will have no problems in understanding even the most difficult topics. 

No matter how charming you are, if you show up for a class without a good lesson plan, you won't succeed. A good teacher must always provide students strong, simple explanations and make examples to give them a clear picture of what was just explained.  


Finally, I would end by saying that the PASSION for your own job is vital. I believe it is really important to transfer this to your students. Passion is infectious and in my opinion the love of a subject inspires students to widen their knowledge.  Always try to understand your students and their needs, make their victory yours and do the same with their failures. It will help the both of you.

"Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach." (Aristotele)

Written by Felix Iovino 

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