Hello Exam Seekers,
First and foremost, have you ever heard of Rapport? Do you know why it is such an important thing to establish it with students? Do you know how to have a good rapport with them? Well, I will answer these and other questions in this post!
During the CELTA Course, Rapport will perhaps be one of the first things you will hear about at the beginning of the course. After all, chances are that you will be teaching a group that is not yours and it will be your ground zero. That means that everything you do from the first class on will be based on your behavior in class, the attitude you have, and the way you interact with students as well.
Of course, you are going to be evaluated on other aspects as well as how good a relationship you have with students, but believe me when I say that the better you interact with them, the better their output and interaction in class will be.
What is Rapport?
According to Harmer (2001:25), “rapport means, in essence, the relationship that the students have with the teacher, and vice versa. In the best lessons, we will always see a positive, enjoyable, and respectful relationship. Rapport is established in part when students become aware of our professionalism, but it also occurs as a result of the way we listen to and treat the students in our classroom.“
In other words, it is basically to have a good relationship with your students and the ability to communicate well with them.
Why is it important?
Well, to begin with, establishing a good rapport with students is pretty much the key to the job you will develop with them throughout the course. So, everything you do, from the expression you have on your face to the way you address students, will have an impact on how well you are building this relationship with them.
In class, students should feel they are in a safe environment, in which they are welcome to express themselves, communicate, interact and be free of judgment. It is only after you have established this safe place for them that their attitude towards the language acquisition and the class will start to flow more smoothly.
With that in mind and minding your attitude in class, you will be able to destroy many barriers and go through many difficulties they may have regarding the language that would have seemed impossible at first. After all, once students feel comfortable in class and trust you enough to express themselves in spite of their possible issues with the language, you will have a much more pleasant and collaborative place to work on.
Have you ever heard about students who started hating a school subject because of the teacher who taught that subject for them? That is exactly the opposite of what Rapport should be like.
Tips on How to Build Rapport
How can we, as teachers, establish Rapport with students? There are some aspects of classroom management that we have to take into account:
- One of the most basic principles of it is our motivation. The more we externalize how much we value being there and show that contagious energy with a smile on the face and with kindness, the better.
- Another aspect to take into consideration is how we address our students. It is essential to call them by their names – actually, to know their names from the very first classes is vital here. When we call students by their names we show them that we value not only them as students but also care about them and who they are – they are not clients or numbers in the class.
- A third aspect is getting to know their interests. Calling students by their names is essential when building rapport, however, knowing their likes and dislikes, or facts about their lives make you step ahead in the relationship. Sometimes students mention some things in class that we do not always remember and it really makes them sad, but when the students realize you remember something that you’ve mentioned before, it’s the world for them. So, take some time to ask some questions to your students, to let them see that you are interested, and let them talk about themselves and share things in class.
- You can ask their names and interests using games, like throwing the ball to them and ask a question. Gamifying your tasks make students enjoy your class and you even more.
- Also, finding out if students are fine or not also helps to build that bridge. Every time a student seems uncomfortable or doesn’t seem to be feeling well, take some time to speak to this student and try to understand what has happened. Being there for students and showing we care is of great importance. This attitude will definitely help create a bond with the students and build a safe environment more easily. Also, when we show interest in what our students are saying we are also building their confidence to speak in the target language.
These are just some of the aspects that you can use when preparing your lessons and interacting with your students. However, they will only be useful once you are doing them spontaneously and because you care. If you need to fake any of these actions, they will probably be quite clear to students and that will cause the opposite effect. So be sure you really want to know more about the students before doing it without truly meaning it.
I actually wrote a text about the Teacher’s Role that involves Authenticity, which is a great ally to build Rapport. Being authentical and showing your students your true self – not miming other teachers or presenting yourself the way you think that’s what people want – is definitely the key to any relationship.
Have you tried any of these interactions? What was the result? Are there any other techniques you use in class to establish rapport with your students? I would love to know more about them! Also, if you have any other questions regarding rapport, feel free to share them in the comments section below, I’ll make sure to read them all.
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Have a great week,
Harmer, J. (2007) How to teach English. England: Pearson Education Limited.