As teachers, we know that a major part of our job is coaching students: providing motivation, encouragement, and guidance. While it is essential of course that we provide expert knowledge of the language, solid instruction, accurate feedback, and reliable assessment, too much “instruction” and too little “coaching” can lead to demotivation for a lot of students. Students may feel ‘invisible’ – unappreciated and disconnected – and just tune out. This disconnect is especially true in online classes. So here it is, a rule of thumb: think of yourself as a coach first, and an instructor second.
Here are some “coaching tips” to consider when you’re teaching listening and speaking.
The left column is the “goal”, the middle column is the behavior and attitude we’re trying to instill and encourage, the rightmost column is questions you can ask (continuously!) to try to promote the target attitude and behavior.
Of course, you can modify and add to these sets of coaching tips. Or you can use your own system of coaching students. What I’m intending to show here is that coaching can be delivered initially in the form of observation — noting students’ behavior and attitudes. From there, you can proceed to goal-setting — implanting intentions that students can strive for when they participate in class. And then the magic sauce: questioning — ah, the power of questions. Consistent use of questioning can help students notice possibilities for expanding the way they think. Finally, coaching involves positive feedback — rewarding students when they do something well!
Michael Rost, principal author of Pearson English Interactive, has been active in the areas of language teaching, learning technology and language acquisition research for over 25 years. His interest in bilingualism and language education began in the Peace Corps in West Africa and was fuelled during his 10 years as an educator in Japan and extensive touring as a lecturer in East Asia and Latin America. Formerly on the faculty of the TESOL programs at Temple University and the University of California, Berkeley, Michael now works as an independent researcher, author, and speaker based in San Francisco.