Building relationships while traveling abroad is an important key to an expats success in living overseas. Most teachers tend to build most of their relationships outside of work, but building relationships within the workplace, and with your students, is a key to succeeding as an ESL teacher. This article with identify and give ideas on how to go about creating and maintaining the various relationships we encounter on a daily basis at work.
It’s widely known that sustaining a healthy work environment requires working well with your coworkers. Developing a work relationship with those with whom you see every day will help prompt the flow and exchange of teaching ideas and will ultimately improve the overall office atmosphere, making Friday’s just a little bit more manageable. Some ways to go about this is by being overall helpful and respectful of your fellow employees. If you’re new to the teaching world then asking a fellow colleague for their advice on activities or how they deal with certain situations in class is a good way to break the tension and get a relationships started. For a veteran teacher, doing the opposite and extending your knowledge, while also being open to advice from others, will build a relationship that benefits everyone involved. Once personal relationships between individuals become apparent then think about branching out and involving the entire office. Maybe a monthly outing with all staff willing, including the Chinese staff, to a park or a fun activity, like bowling, could be a good idea. Building this type of rapport in the office will keep the lessons of the classes new and exciting with the exchange of ideas as well as creating a positive and uplifting vibe in an otherwise dull workplace scenario.
Another relationship we, as teachers, must look to create and hone is the relationship with our students. Whether our students are kindergarten age or adults who want to master their fluency, we have to create an environment where we’re comfortable with our students and our students are comfortable with us. Applying the language being taught, be it vocabulary or grammar, to the students in a personal manner is a good way to start to get to know them. If a book is required in your school, taking time to step away from book answers and applying the language to the students’ everyday lives will encourage natural extension of the language. Using these small additions into the classroom will result in getting a glimpse into the personalities of your students. And in return you, the teacher, need to open up a bit to them as well by using yourself and experiences as examples for the students. Getting to know your students and having them get to know you will break down some anxiety and awkward walls that prevent students from fully comfortably speaking in class. If the students feel comfortable with you they will want to communicate with you more which, in return, will improve their spoken English.
Sometimes students will need a little more than just a good relationship with the teacher to open up and
participate in class. This is when creating an inviting atmosphere and relationship amongst the students themselves comes into the picture. Just like you needed to get to know the students, the students need to get to know each other. Some of this familiarity will come from the personal answers they create when extending and personalizing the grammar and vocabulary. Getting the students to interact with each other will also help promote this student-to-student relationship. If the classroom and class size permit, getting students to participate in mingles where they have to ask multiple people a specific grammar point or divulge in a conversation is a good technique. If classrooms are bigger, think Chinese public schools, then getting the students to work with different student around them instead of just their desk mate is also an options. Making sure students have access to more than one other students will help build relationships and promote more public participation in the classes. If the students are comfortable with their fellow classmates then activities like confidently role playing scripts, reading personal writings, and participating in discussions will be more prominent in classes.
Creating relationships with the community in which you live in while abroad will help with surviving outside the workplace but, don’t neglect the relationships ones must make and maintain inside the workplace. Healthy office and classrooms are essential to the growth of teachers, old and new, while working, not only in the ESL world but, in the educational world as a whole.