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Ways to build rapport

In the last video, you saw a teacher who had built a lesson around her learners’ interests - the Harry Potter books.

You probably noticed the number of hands that went up when she asked if anyone had heard of Harry Potter and who had read any of the books. The learners were clearly engaged and interested in the topic of the lesson. The teacher knew her learners’ interests and was tapping into their intrinsic motivation. You might not be able to plan every lesson around the interests of your learners, but there are some things you can always do to build rapport and create a good relationship with your learners.

Choose your attitude
You need to be friendly but professional. Remember that your students don’t want you as a friend, but want to respect you as a teacher. Show them from the outset that you expect them to work hard in your class, but that it can be enjoyable.

Use names
Yes, it can be difficult with a large class to learn names quickly, but using your learners’ names shows that you see them as individuals and creates bonds.

Listen
Really listen to the messages in what your learners say, not just the English that they produce. Try to avoid unnecessary ‘echoing’, or simply repeating what learners say and be aware of the amount of time you spend talking in a class.

Avoid over-correcting
Teachers who correct learners every time they speak run the risk of damaging learner confidence and breaking down rapport. Of course, learners need correcting at times, and when this is done supportively it can increase trust between learner and teacher.

Stand tall
Work on your voice and body language so that you appear confident, even if you really don’t feel it. Your voice needs to be loud and clear. Stand straight in front of the class, and don’t hide behind a desk.


  • What do you think is the best way to build rapport?

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This article is from the free online course:

Professional Practices for English Language Teaching

British Council

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