Do you like your teacher?
Are your classes interesting?
Do you think you are learning?
Are you learning what you need?
Are you getting what was promised when you first signed up for your course?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to all of these questions then lucky you. You have found, either by luck or judgment, the right teacher for you. I hope you are able to keep this teacher for as long as possible and that you can both profit and learn from each other.
However, if your answer was ‘no’ to any of those questions then here is a follow up: What on earth are you doing about it?
In a previous blog post on this site, Henrick Oprea wrote about how teachers can’t take responsibility for learning, only responsibility for teaching. If this is correct, and I believe it probably is, then the onus is on you, the student, to tell the teacher when there is a problem so that you can start learning again.
I am not saying that you should stand up in the middle of the class and loudly complain about how bad the teacher/course book/school/life is. I am saying that you should find a time, either before or after the class, to go and have a quiet chat with your teacher. Explain what your problem is, provide a suggestion or ask if your teacher has any advice.
If you teacher is busy before and after your class, then try to arrange a time when you are both available. If this is not possible, then write it in a letter or an email.
There might well be a reason why the teacher is doing something in class that you don’t like. Perhaps it is the school’s policy or methodology. Maybe the teacher is focussing on a different area of language at the moment and is planning to address your area of concern soon.
But there is also a very good chance that the teacher just doesn’t realise what your problem might be. By talking to your teacher in a reasonable and diplomatic way you give him or her the opportunity to change things for you, to put right what has been going wrong.
Most teachers worry about the effect we have. A lot of teachers will make time available for feedback in class, but it isn’t always the best place to give and receive feedback. Sometimes, the only real feedback we get is when the student stops coming, and when that happens there can be so many potential reasons that it is impossible to know how or if we should change.
So if you are not happy with your classes, say something. They are your classes, not your teacher’s or your school’s. You are the one investing time, and very often money as well in your education. You have the right to talk about how your education is going to progress.
And if you do talk to your teacher and nothing changes, then at least you tried.
By the way, if your answer was ‘yes’ to those questions I posed at the start, then make sure you tell your teacher. We like to hear positive feedback sometimes and knowing we are on the right track is as important as knowing what we need to improve.
Stephen Greene has been a language teacher, teacher trainer and materials developer for 20 years with experience of teaching in Poland, Taiwan, London, Russia and Brazil. Before travelling around the world he came from Birmingham in the UK. He holds an MA in Linguistics, as well as a Diploma in Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages from Trinity College, London. He writes about his experiences of teaching at tmenglish.org and what life is like bringing up a bilingual son in Curitiba, Brazil at headoftheheard.com.