Thursday, October 12, 2006

What is a Language Teacher?

At a recent English Language Teaching or ELT conference, when I asked, What is a language teacher? a cornucopia of responses ensued. Many were quite verbose, others shorter and simpler, many rambled. For both EFL teachers and ESL or foreign language students, the definition of a language teacher is useful in determining what qualities to seek or strive for when studying English or a foreign language.

It was TEFL linguistics researcher Costas Gabrielatos in 2002 who defined the term language teacher.

A Language Teacher is:

A person who teaches language.

With this definition he also defined the three major aspects that constitute a language teacher. Here are those three aspects and their respective principal components.

1. A language teacher is a person (or personality) who demonstrates the qualities of:

Balanced control and Flexibility in teaching and conducting class activities, being neither overly tyrannical nor overly permissive

Being Neat and Organized in person and preparation

Being Well-groomed to provide an example for student dress and behavior

Being Authoritative in the performance of all teaching aspects based on a combination of knowledge, training, practice and experience

2. A language teacher is able to teach combining methodology, knowledge & skill. The language teacher:

Has In-depth Knowledge of the language being taught. It is unfortunate that in many foreign countries there exist numbers of English language teachers whose knowledge of English is questionable at best or non-existent at worst. If you are an English as a foreign language teacher, strive NOT to be one of those.

Uses a Variety of Techniques to transfer knowledge, skills and abilities in the language to students and learners

Has Knowledge of materials that can be successfully applied to the teaching and learning of the language being taught

Knows Implication of theory to practice, development and use of the language being taught

3. A language teacher has knowledge of the Language and its Use. This implies knowledge of:

Grammar and specialized structure of the language being taught

the Language History and how it impacts current use and structure of the language

Idioms and Expressions in the language both in current and previous use colloquially

Ability to discern levels and needs of students of the language to enable each learner to receive the best methods and approaches to learning that are possible

So, what is a language teacher? A language teacher is a person who teaches language and all that that entails. As language teachers or language learners, there are standards to be upheld and quality to be maintained. These serve for the benefit of all.

Learn Italian for Free

Italian is one of the most widespread languages in the world, and speaking it can give you a tremendous sense of accomplishment, an edge in your career, and even a stronger bond with your ancestors if you are of Italian descent. There are many ways you can learn Italian, including textbooks, tapes, CDs, software, group classes or private lessons, but there are also ways you can begin or continue your studies of the Italian language entirely for FREE!

1. Online: Online, you can join an active community of people who are learning the Italian language just like you. One site is Impariamo - - which in Italian means lets learn. Impariamo is a forum where you can meet people from around the world who are learning Italian and share tips to improve your Italian language skills. It is also a great starting point for finding new tools that will help you develop your Italian skills - all for FREE! Impariamo also has a feature called Quiz of the Week, where you can have a new Italian language quiz delivered to your e-mail in-box each and every week. In addition to Impariamo, you can also find other online communities at Yahoo! Groups - - or at MSN Groups - Simply type in learn Italian in the search box on either of these sites and you will find many groups that may appeal to you to join - again, for FREE!

2. Offline: Offline, you can join a group in your geographic area whose members share your interest in learning the Italian language through a free online service called Meetup - Meetup helps people find others who share similar interests, and form lasting, local community groups that regularly meet face-to-face. All ages and levels of proficiency are welcome to these group meetings! You can sign up to participate in any one of nearly 300 Italian language Meetup groups. Practicing your Italian among friends will help you improve your language skills significantly.

Learning Italian allows you to immerse yourself in a rich and diverse culture, and this can open entirely new avenues of self-exploration and personal growth. Whether you want to the Italian language for personal or professional reasons, you can make new friends, have new experiences, and open yourself to a new and beautiful culture. Buon divertimento!