#155 - How to Have Better English Classes

October 12, 2022

After teaching English online for the past few years, I've noticed something that we can do to have more productive and enjoyable classes for students and teachers alike.

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[00:00:00] What's up, my friend? Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to the Life in English podcast. I'm your host, your spiritual guide, your sensei, Tony Kaizen, and I've got a great episode for English learners and teachers alike, because after teaching English online for the past five years, I've noticed a few things that students and teachers can do to make their classes more productive and enjoyable. And those things are what I'm gonna share with you in this episode.

[00:00:33] Alright, my friend, let's start with the English learners. Here are some things in no particular order that you should do if you want to get the most value out of your English classes. So before you have the class, before you start, one thing I recommend you do is set clear and detailed goals for yourself. Because if you don't have a destination, you will never arrive anywhere. You might be moving and expending energy, but if you're not moving in the right direction, then you're not making progress. In fact, you're doing the exact opposite, right? And if you haven't chosen a destination or a goal for yourself, there's no way of knowing if you're moving in the right direction. So you must determine what goal you're trying to reach. Be as specific as possible. Your teacher is gonna need to know exactly what your goal is if they're going to help you achieve it.

[00:01:25] So think about why you are learning English. "I'm learning English for my career" is not an answer. When I ask you why, I want you to tell me what truly motivates you to achieve this goal specifically. Are you trying to qualify for a better job so you can support your family better? Are you trying to get a visa for some exchange program? Did you recently fail an interview because you couldn't speak English well enough to do the job? Is it a lack of vocabulary that's the problem? Or is it something more psychological, like anxiety or stress? Did you recently move to the US with children who will be learning in an English-speaking school? Do you want to learn English to be able to be involved in their academic career? Do you want to be able to volunteer at their school? You see what I'm saying? What will you use the language for? Which areas do you struggle with the most? Are you willing to study every single day? Do you have that capability or availability? You see what I'm saying?

[00:02:24] Also, you need to think about what kind of teacher you want cos there are tons, literally tons of talented teachers out there who are more than qualified to teach you the English language. However, each teacher has a different methodology, personality, accent, presence, sense of humor, and price. But please do not let their price be the only factor you consider when choosing a teacher. That is a terrible strategy. Okay? The right goal with the wrong teacher can be a recipe for disaster, in my experience. So here are some questions you should consider when thinking about what kind of teacher you want. Do you want a teacher from the US or maybe Australia or England? Do you want a teacher that specializes mainly in conversation or mainly in grammar and writing skills? Do you prefer a male or a female teacher? Would you like them to have a particular accent? Do you respond better to lively, energetic teachers or soft spoken and calming teachers? Do you want someone who has a particular set of interests? Do you need a teacher who also speaks your native language? Do you need a teacher who charges a certain amount of money per class? Having the answers to these questions will make it a lot easier to find and choose the right teacher for you. You'll save tons of time and money by not having to experiment with a bunch of teachers who were simply never right for you in the first place. You'll also save those teachers lots of time, and that's just as important.

[00:03:53] But now let's assume you found your teacher. You're taking classes and you're feeling good, right? Let me talk to you about a few things you should not do when you're having classes. The first one. You should not be pretending that you understand when you clearly do not. Please stop doing this. You know what I'm talking about. You're having a conversation. Someone says something you don't understand. And instead of stopping them and saying, "Excuse me, what does that mean?" You say, fucking nothing. Like you pretend to understand what's happening, right? Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. And you force yourself to laugh a little bit because you don't want to make the situation awkward or uncomfortable. You don't want to ruin the conversation. And then you sit in silence for a few seconds to see if they're going to keep talking. Because if they keep talking, then they don't have to focus on the fact that I didn't understand what they just said. Right? You know what I'm talking about. But you're talking to a native speaker, my friend. You really think they can't see in your face that you didn't understand what was said? Of course they can. So what's the point in trying to hide it, bro? There's nothing wrong with not being able to understand someone's words. It just means that you need them to be explained to you in a different way. So if you don't understand, just say that, because that's the only way someone will know that they need to teach you something. And that is the only way you will learn, my friend. Okay?

[00:05:23] Something else you need to stop doing is using your teacher like a dictionary. A lot of y'all are guilty of this as well. You arrive in class and you do nothing but ask your teacher to translate phrases, right? "Teacher, teacher, how do I say, 'aproximadamente'?" "Teacher, how do I say, 'o saco vazio não para em pé'?" "Teacher, how do I say, 'abre la puerta'?" Translating everything literally is not only an unproductive use of time, it's also not the purpose of a teacher. That's the purpose of a translator, which you can find online for free. Your teacher's purpose is to explain what you don't understand about the translation you went and searched for. Your teacher's purpose is to guide you down the path, not walk for you. So take the time to practice English on your own, search for answers to your questions on your own, and then call on your teacher to see if your understanding is correct. I suggest you do it this way because you typically value and remember things you had to work for much more than the things that were simply given to you. In other words, you'll learn and internalize things better that way. Okay?

[00:06:34] Another thing you really need to stop doing is waiting until the day of class to practice your English. You know what I'm talking about. You know you're doing it, bro. Stop that shit. Okay? Having one English class per week is much better than zero classes per week, let me start by saying that, but if you're not practicing your English during the rest of the week, one class per week is gonna have little to no effect on your ability to speak and understand English, or at least your progress is gonna be painfully slow. You need to be practicing and learning on your own every day if you really want to improve rapidly. So you should be consuming content in English, taking notes and writing down your questions, so when you get to your weekly class, you can get all your questions answered and your doubts cleared up by your teacher. Just imagine if football players only played the game once a week. Like that would be a terrible thing to do if they wanted to be champions of the league, right? Footballers practice multiple times a week to stay in shape and to get prepared for the game at the weekend. Like without training....excuse me...without training consistently, there's no way they could perform at the highest level every weekend. And it's the same for you. Without speaking English consistently, there's no way you're gonna speak it at the highest level when the time calls for it.

[00:08:00] Now at this point, if you're taking classes or at least thinking about taking them, you might have identified with some things that I've said so far. You might even be thinking about some other ways you can have better English classes. But before we continue, I'd like to tell you about our sponsor for this episode, Life in English. Life in English is a media company teaching the world English to creative content. They offer private English classes and online learning community, podcasts, and video lessons, and many other resources for learning the English language through the art of communication. So if you're looking to improve your spoken English for work, travel, or just daily life, visit www.lifeinenglish.net for more information.

[00:08:40] Now I'd like to talk about the teachers. And this one's not as easy because I...I generally, you know, have no interest in trying to tell other professionals how to do their job. You know, every teacher has their own way of doing things, their own beliefs and methodology. And, you know, just because I do things a certain way doesn't mean that another teacher should do them that way. So I'm not necessarily going to say what a teacher should do or shouldn't do before they have classes and things like that. But it's it's actually really similar to a student, like a teacher should also identify before they start what their goals are, like, you know, what type of students you want to teach, what level would you like to work with, you know, adults or children or a particular gender or people from a particular country who speak a particular language? How much would you like to earn per hour, or would you rather do courses instead of, you know, individual private classes?

[00:09:29] I think it's important for any professional to define their goals before they get started or at least have some idea of where they're trying to get before they get started, you know, and what type of students they want to work with or what type of work they want to do. But apart from that, I can't really say anything about what teachers should or shouldn't do. All I know is what I should or shouldn't do, but I will still make some recommendations on things that all teachers should stop doing during classes if they truly want to help their student have a more productive class. But I just want to emphasize this is just my opinion. But if you're a teacher listening to this, hit me up and let me know your thoughts. And if you're a student, send this to your teacher and ask them to hit me up and let me know about their thoughts.

[00:10:12] But anyway, here are some things that teachers should stop doing in their language classes. The first one is stop jumping in to rescue your student. Let them struggle through the sentence until they ask for help. As a teacher, it's natural to want to help your student in any way you can. So naturally, when your student gets stuck and you know what they're trying to say, you just want to give them the phrase they're looking for. And there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that. But in my experience, I've noticed that students tend to learn things more effectively when you let them arrive at their own conclusions. If your student get stuck and ask you to translate a word or phrase for them in their native language, try getting them to describe the idea of the word or the phrase. If they describe it in a way that a native speaker would understand, then give them the phrase they're looking for. But if the explanation doesn't make enough sense, then ask them to try explaining it in a different way. Or search on Google for the, the translation. And once they find the translation, you can tell them if it's correct, how to use it naturally, how formal it is, and all those things, right? When you do it this way, you can help your student without doing any of the work for them.

[00:11:25] Now, this obviously isn't the only way and maybe not even the best way to teach but the point is, I'd like you to remember that teaching someone to walk on their own two feet should never involve you walking for them. Allowing them to struggle through the process is better for them in the long run because making it easy on them in class will only make it harder on them in real life. Another thing, teachers, to stop doing is talking so much about English. Just talk about life, you know what I'm saying? There are countless hours of free content online explaining how the English language works, and not only is it generally uninteresting to talk about, it's also not what an English learner really needs to know. Unless, of course, they're trying to pass a test that requires them to know it, like the IELTS, for example.

[00:12:11] But imagine paying for dancing classes and arriving in class only to watch videos of other people dancing or having conversations about dancing. That would be weird. And you probably want your money back. You didn't pay for dance classes to sit around and talk about dancing. You paid because you wanted to learn how to dance. English students generally don't pay for classes because they want to talk about English. They pay for classes because they want to learn how to use English naturally and confidently. And most students don't live in an English-speaking country, so they already spend most of their free time consuming content in English and or about English. That's generally all they can do, or at least that's what they believe. So when they get to class, what they really want and need is to practice using the language, not consume more information about it. And why not just talk about interesting things like common and uncommon interests or life experiences, pop culture, things like these.

[00:13:13] This allows your students to learn in a relaxed, natural environment and use the language the same way they would in the real world. And they end up learning how to communicate in English without realizing it the same way they learned their native language without realizing it. You see what I'm saying? Now, another thing I think teachers should stop doing immediately is treating their students like children. I'm not sure why some teachers, like, choose to treat grown ass men and women like toddlers. And just because they have the speaking ability similar to that of a child doesn't make them children. So smiling abnormally often or using baby talk and a silly voice is something you would never do if you were speaking to a native you just met. So why the fuck are they speaking to adult students like that, bro? I don't get it.

[00:14:06] Now, maybe some teachers want to make the extra effort to create a safe environment for their students so they can feel comfortable enough to speak and make mistakes. I get that a hundred percent, but there's a difference between safe and fake. People in the real world aren't gonna treat them like babies or have the level of patience that language teachers have. I personally don't appreciate being talked to as if I'm a child or as if I'm stupid. And in my experience, most other adults feel the same way. I just find that if you're straight with people, they tend to appreciate it more than you trying to be nice to them, you know? Now, this, of course, is just my opinion based on my experience. Everyone's different so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt, obviously, you know?

[00:14:49] Now, there are a bunch of things that you could start or stop doing if you want to have better English classes. These are just a few that come to mind when I reflect on my experience teaching and learning languages online. So if you're an English teacher or learner, I'd love to hear about your perspective on this subject so feel free to send me a message on Discord, or hit me up on Twitter - @tonykaizen, or shoot me a DM on Instagram - @englishwithkaizen. But that's it for now, my friend. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for your time and your attention. Please remember, if you live your life in English, you will learn English. Please remember if you practice English consistently, you will learn English. Please remember if you invest in your education, if you invest in yourself and your skills, if you stay dedicated, my friend, get a good teacher, a good mentor, some good friends, apply the right methods, there is nothing that you cannot do.

[END OF EPISODE]

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[00:00:00] What's up, my friend? Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to the Life in English podcast. I'm your host, your spiritual guide, your sensei, Tony Kaizen, and I've got a great episode for English learners and teachers alike, because after teaching English online for the past five years, I've noticed a few things that students and teachers can do to make their classes more productive and enjoyable. And those things are what I'm gonna share with you in this episode.

[00:00:33] Alright, my friend, let's start with the English learners. Here are some things in no particular order that you should do if you want to get the most value out of your English classes. So before you have the class, before you start, one thing I recommend you do is set clear and detailed goals for yourself. Because if you don't have a destination, you will never arrive anywhere. You might be moving and expending energy, but if you're not moving in the right direction, then you're not making progress. In fact, you're doing the exact opposite, right? And if you haven't chosen a destination or a goal for yourself, there's no way of knowing if you're moving in the right direction. So you must determine what goal you're trying to reach. Be as specific as possible. Your teacher is gonna need to know exactly what your goal is if they're going to help you achieve it.

[00:01:25] So think about why you are learning English. "I'm learning English for my career" is not an answer. When I ask you why, I want you to tell me what truly motivates you to achieve this goal specifically. Are you trying to qualify for a better job so you can support your family better? Are you trying to get a visa for some exchange program? Did you recently fail an interview because you couldn't speak English well enough to do the job? Is it a lack of vocabulary that's the problem? Or is it something more psychological, like anxiety or stress? Did you recently move to the US with children who will be learning in an English-speaking school? Do you want to learn English to be able to be involved in their academic career? Do you want to be able to volunteer at their school? You see what I'm saying? What will you use the language for? Which areas do you struggle with the most? Are you willing to study every single day? Do you have that capability or availability? You see what I'm saying?

[00:02:24] Also, you need to think about what kind of teacher you want cos there are tons, literally tons of talented teachers out there who are more than qualified to teach you the English language. However, each teacher has a different methodology, personality, accent, presence, sense of humor, and price. But please do not let their price be the only factor you consider when choosing a teacher. That is a terrible strategy. Okay? The right goal with the wrong teacher can be a recipe for disaster, in my experience. So here are some questions you should consider when thinking about what kind of teacher you want. Do you want a teacher from the US or maybe Australia or England? Do you want a teacher that specializes mainly in conversation or mainly in grammar and writing skills? Do you prefer a male or a female teacher? Would you like them to have a particular accent? Do you respond better to lively, energetic teachers or soft spoken and calming teachers? Do you want someone who has a particular set of interests? Do you need a teacher who also speaks your native language? Do you need a teacher who charges a certain amount of money per class? Having the answers to these questions will make it a lot easier to find and choose the right teacher for you. You'll save tons of time and money by not having to experiment with a bunch of teachers who were simply never right for you in the first place. You'll also save those teachers lots of time, and that's just as important.

[00:03:53] But now let's assume you found your teacher. You're taking classes and you're feeling good, right? Let me talk to you about a few things you should not do when you're having classes. The first one. You should not be pretending that you understand when you clearly do not. Please stop doing this. You know what I'm talking about. You're having a conversation. Someone says something you don't understand. And instead of stopping them and saying, "Excuse me, what does that mean?" You say, fucking nothing. Like you pretend to understand what's happening, right? Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. And you force yourself to laugh a little bit because you don't want to make the situation awkward or uncomfortable. You don't want to ruin the conversation. And then you sit in silence for a few seconds to see if they're going to keep talking. Because if they keep talking, then they don't have to focus on the fact that I didn't understand what they just said. Right? You know what I'm talking about. But you're talking to a native speaker, my friend. You really think they can't see in your face that you didn't understand what was said? Of course they can. So what's the point in trying to hide it, bro? There's nothing wrong with not being able to understand someone's words. It just means that you need them to be explained to you in a different way. So if you don't understand, just say that, because that's the only way someone will know that they need to teach you something. And that is the only way you will learn, my friend. Okay?

[00:05:23] Something else you need to stop doing is using your teacher like a dictionary. A lot of y'all are guilty of this as well. You arrive in class and you do nothing but ask your teacher to translate phrases, right? "Teacher, teacher, how do I say, 'aproximadamente'?" "Teacher, how do I say, 'o saco vazio não para em pé'?" "Teacher, how do I say, 'abre la puerta'?" Translating everything literally is not only an unproductive use of time, it's also not the purpose of a teacher. That's the purpose of a translator, which you can find online for free. Your teacher's purpose is to explain what you don't understand about the translation you went and searched for. Your teacher's purpose is to guide you down the path, not walk for you. So take the time to practice English on your own, search for answers to your questions on your own, and then call on your teacher to see if your understanding is correct. I suggest you do it this way because you typically value and remember things you had to work for much more than the things that were simply given to you. In other words, you'll learn and internalize things better that way. Okay?

[00:06:34] Another thing you really need to stop doing is waiting until the day of class to practice your English. You know what I'm talking about. You know you're doing it, bro. Stop that shit. Okay? Having one English class per week is much better than zero classes per week, let me start by saying that, but if you're not practicing your English during the rest of the week, one class per week is gonna have little to no effect on your ability to speak and understand English, or at least your progress is gonna be painfully slow. You need to be practicing and learning on your own every day if you really want to improve rapidly. So you should be consuming content in English, taking notes and writing down your questions, so when you get to your weekly class, you can get all your questions answered and your doubts cleared up by your teacher. Just imagine if football players only played the game once a week. Like that would be a terrible thing to do if they wanted to be champions of the league, right? Footballers practice multiple times a week to stay in shape and to get prepared for the game at the weekend. Like without training....excuse me...without training consistently, there's no way they could perform at the highest level every weekend. And it's the same for you. Without speaking English consistently, there's no way you're gonna speak it at the highest level when the time calls for it.

[00:08:00] Now at this point, if you're taking classes or at least thinking about taking them, you might have identified with some things that I've said so far. You might even be thinking about some other ways you can have better English classes. But before we continue, I'd like to tell you about our sponsor for this episode, Life in English. Life in English is a media company teaching the world English to creative content. They offer private English classes and online learning community, podcasts, and video lessons, and many other resources for learning the English language through the art of communication. So if you're looking to improve your spoken English for work, travel, or just daily life, visit www.lifeinenglish.net for more information.

[00:08:40] Now I'd like to talk about the teachers. And this one's not as easy because I...I generally, you know, have no interest in trying to tell other professionals how to do their job. You know, every teacher has their own way of doing things, their own beliefs and methodology. And, you know, just because I do things a certain way doesn't mean that another teacher should do them that way. So I'm not necessarily going to say what a teacher should do or shouldn't do before they have classes and things like that. But it's it's actually really similar to a student, like a teacher should also identify before they start what their goals are, like, you know, what type of students you want to teach, what level would you like to work with, you know, adults or children or a particular gender or people from a particular country who speak a particular language? How much would you like to earn per hour, or would you rather do courses instead of, you know, individual private classes?

[00:09:29] I think it's important for any professional to define their goals before they get started or at least have some idea of where they're trying to get before they get started, you know, and what type of students they want to work with or what type of work they want to do. But apart from that, I can't really say anything about what teachers should or shouldn't do. All I know is what I should or shouldn't do, but I will still make some recommendations on things that all teachers should stop doing during classes if they truly want to help their student have a more productive class. But I just want to emphasize this is just my opinion. But if you're a teacher listening to this, hit me up and let me know your thoughts. And if you're a student, send this to your teacher and ask them to hit me up and let me know about their thoughts.

[00:10:12] But anyway, here are some things that teachers should stop doing in their language classes. The first one is stop jumping in to rescue your student. Let them struggle through the sentence until they ask for help. As a teacher, it's natural to want to help your student in any way you can. So naturally, when your student gets stuck and you know what they're trying to say, you just want to give them the phrase they're looking for. And there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that. But in my experience, I've noticed that students tend to learn things more effectively when you let them arrive at their own conclusions. If your student get stuck and ask you to translate a word or phrase for them in their native language, try getting them to describe the idea of the word or the phrase. If they describe it in a way that a native speaker would understand, then give them the phrase they're looking for. But if the explanation doesn't make enough sense, then ask them to try explaining it in a different way. Or search on Google for the, the translation. And once they find the translation, you can tell them if it's correct, how to use it naturally, how formal it is, and all those things, right? When you do it this way, you can help your student without doing any of the work for them.

[00:11:25] Now, this obviously isn't the only way and maybe not even the best way to teach but the point is, I'd like you to remember that teaching someone to walk on their own two feet should never involve you walking for them. Allowing them to struggle through the process is better for them in the long run because making it easy on them in class will only make it harder on them in real life. Another thing, teachers, to stop doing is talking so much about English. Just talk about life, you know what I'm saying? There are countless hours of free content online explaining how the English language works, and not only is it generally uninteresting to talk about, it's also not what an English learner really needs to know. Unless, of course, they're trying to pass a test that requires them to know it, like the IELTS, for example.

[00:12:11] But imagine paying for dancing classes and arriving in class only to watch videos of other people dancing or having conversations about dancing. That would be weird. And you probably want your money back. You didn't pay for dance classes to sit around and talk about dancing. You paid because you wanted to learn how to dance. English students generally don't pay for classes because they want to talk about English. They pay for classes because they want to learn how to use English naturally and confidently. And most students don't live in an English-speaking country, so they already spend most of their free time consuming content in English and or about English. That's generally all they can do, or at least that's what they believe. So when they get to class, what they really want and need is to practice using the language, not consume more information about it. And why not just talk about interesting things like common and uncommon interests or life experiences, pop culture, things like these.

[00:13:13] This allows your students to learn in a relaxed, natural environment and use the language the same way they would in the real world. And they end up learning how to communicate in English without realizing it the same way they learned their native language without realizing it. You see what I'm saying? Now, another thing I think teachers should stop doing immediately is treating their students like children. I'm not sure why some teachers, like, choose to treat grown ass men and women like toddlers. And just because they have the speaking ability similar to that of a child doesn't make them children. So smiling abnormally often or using baby talk and a silly voice is something you would never do if you were speaking to a native you just met. So why the fuck are they speaking to adult students like that, bro? I don't get it.

[00:14:06] Now, maybe some teachers want to make the extra effort to create a safe environment for their students so they can feel comfortable enough to speak and make mistakes. I get that a hundred percent, but there's a difference between safe and fake. People in the real world aren't gonna treat them like babies or have the level of patience that language teachers have. I personally don't appreciate being talked to as if I'm a child or as if I'm stupid. And in my experience, most other adults feel the same way. I just find that if you're straight with people, they tend to appreciate it more than you trying to be nice to them, you know? Now, this, of course, is just my opinion based on my experience. Everyone's different so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt, obviously, you know?

[00:14:49] Now, there are a bunch of things that you could start or stop doing if you want to have better English classes. These are just a few that come to mind when I reflect on my experience teaching and learning languages online. So if you're an English teacher or learner, I'd love to hear about your perspective on this subject so feel free to send me a message on Discord, or hit me up on Twitter - @tonykaizen, or shoot me a DM on Instagram - @englishwithkaizen. But that's it for now, my friend. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for your time and your attention. Please remember, if you live your life in English, you will learn English. Please remember if you practice English consistently, you will learn English. Please remember if you invest in your education, if you invest in yourself and your skills, if you stay dedicated, my friend, get a good teacher, a good mentor, some good friends, apply the right methods, there is nothing that you cannot do.

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Write about your experience taking English classes.
  • What qualities do you look for in a teacher?
  • What are some qualities every student should possess?
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Transcript

[00:00:00] What's up, my friend? Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to the Life in English podcast. I'm your host, your spiritual guide, your sensei, Tony Kaizen, and I've got a great episode for English learners and teachers alike, because after teaching English online for the past five years, I've noticed a few things that students and teachers can do to make their classes more productive and enjoyable. And those things are what I'm gonna share with you in this episode.

[00:00:33] Alright, my friend, let's start with the English learners. Here are some things in no particular order that you should do if you want to get the most value out of your English classes. So before you have the class, before you start, one thing I recommend you do is set clear and detailed goals for yourself. Because if you don't have a destination, you will never arrive anywhere. You might be moving and expending energy, but if you're not moving in the right direction, then you're not making progress. In fact, you're doing the exact opposite, right? And if you haven't chosen a destination or a goal for yourself, there's no way of knowing if you're moving in the right direction. So you must determine what goal you're trying to reach. Be as specific as possible. Your teacher is gonna need to know exactly what your goal is if they're going to help you achieve it.

[00:01:25] So think about why you are learning English. "I'm learning English for my career" is not an answer. When I ask you why, I want you to tell me what truly motivates you to achieve this goal specifically. Are you trying to qualify for a better job so you can support your family better? Are you trying to get a visa for some exchange program? Did you recently fail an interview because you couldn't speak English well enough to do the job? Is it a lack of vocabulary that's the problem? Or is it something more psychological, like anxiety or stress? Did you recently move to the US with children who will be learning in an English-speaking school? Do you want to learn English to be able to be involved in their academic career? Do you want to be able to volunteer at their school? You see what I'm saying? What will you use the language for? Which areas do you struggle with the most? Are you willing to study every single day? Do you have that capability or availability? You see what I'm saying?

[00:02:24] Also, you need to think about what kind of teacher you want cos there are tons, literally tons of talented teachers out there who are more than qualified to teach you the English language. However, each teacher has a different methodology, personality, accent, presence, sense of humor, and price. But please do not let their price be the only factor you consider when choosing a teacher. That is a terrible strategy. Okay? The right goal with the wrong teacher can be a recipe for disaster, in my experience. So here are some questions you should consider when thinking about what kind of teacher you want. Do you want a teacher from the US or maybe Australia or England? Do you want a teacher that specializes mainly in conversation or mainly in grammar and writing skills? Do you prefer a male or a female teacher? Would you like them to have a particular accent? Do you respond better to lively, energetic teachers or soft spoken and calming teachers? Do you want someone who has a particular set of interests? Do you need a teacher who also speaks your native language? Do you need a teacher who charges a certain amount of money per class? Having the answers to these questions will make it a lot easier to find and choose the right teacher for you. You'll save tons of time and money by not having to experiment with a bunch of teachers who were simply never right for you in the first place. You'll also save those teachers lots of time, and that's just as important.

[00:03:53] But now let's assume you found your teacher. You're taking classes and you're feeling good, right? Let me talk to you about a few things you should not do when you're having classes. The first one. You should not be pretending that you understand when you clearly do not. Please stop doing this. You know what I'm talking about. You're having a conversation. Someone says something you don't understand. And instead of stopping them and saying, "Excuse me, what does that mean?" You say, fucking nothing. Like you pretend to understand what's happening, right? Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. And you force yourself to laugh a little bit because you don't want to make the situation awkward or uncomfortable. You don't want to ruin the conversation. And then you sit in silence for a few seconds to see if they're going to keep talking. Because if they keep talking, then they don't have to focus on the fact that I didn't understand what they just said. Right? You know what I'm talking about. But you're talking to a native speaker, my friend. You really think they can't see in your face that you didn't understand what was said? Of course they can. So what's the point in trying to hide it, bro? There's nothing wrong with not being able to understand someone's words. It just means that you need them to be explained to you in a different way. So if you don't understand, just say that, because that's the only way someone will know that they need to teach you something. And that is the only way you will learn, my friend. Okay?

[00:05:23] Something else you need to stop doing is using your teacher like a dictionary. A lot of y'all are guilty of this as well. You arrive in class and you do nothing but ask your teacher to translate phrases, right? "Teacher, teacher, how do I say, 'aproximadamente'?" "Teacher, how do I say, 'o saco vazio não para em pé'?" "Teacher, how do I say, 'abre la puerta'?" Translating everything literally is not only an unproductive use of time, it's also not the purpose of a teacher. That's the purpose of a translator, which you can find online for free. Your teacher's purpose is to explain what you don't understand about the translation you went and searched for. Your teacher's purpose is to guide you down the path, not walk for you. So take the time to practice English on your own, search for answers to your questions on your own, and then call on your teacher to see if your understanding is correct. I suggest you do it this way because you typically value and remember things you had to work for much more than the things that were simply given to you. In other words, you'll learn and internalize things better that way. Okay?

[00:06:34] Another thing you really need to stop doing is waiting until the day of class to practice your English. You know what I'm talking about. You know you're doing it, bro. Stop that shit. Okay? Having one English class per week is much better than zero classes per week, let me start by saying that, but if you're not practicing your English during the rest of the week, one class per week is gonna have little to no effect on your ability to speak and understand English, or at least your progress is gonna be painfully slow. You need to be practicing and learning on your own every day if you really want to improve rapidly. So you should be consuming content in English, taking notes and writing down your questions, so when you get to your weekly class, you can get all your questions answered and your doubts cleared up by your teacher. Just imagine if football players only played the game once a week. Like that would be a terrible thing to do if they wanted to be champions of the league, right? Footballers practice multiple times a week to stay in shape and to get prepared for the game at the weekend. Like without training....excuse me...without training consistently, there's no way they could perform at the highest level every weekend. And it's the same for you. Without speaking English consistently, there's no way you're gonna speak it at the highest level when the time calls for it.

[00:08:00] Now at this point, if you're taking classes or at least thinking about taking them, you might have identified with some things that I've said so far. You might even be thinking about some other ways you can have better English classes. But before we continue, I'd like to tell you about our sponsor for this episode, Life in English. Life in English is a media company teaching the world English to creative content. They offer private English classes and online learning community, podcasts, and video lessons, and many other resources for learning the English language through the art of communication. So if you're looking to improve your spoken English for work, travel, or just daily life, visit www.lifeinenglish.net for more information.

[00:08:40] Now I'd like to talk about the teachers. And this one's not as easy because I...I generally, you know, have no interest in trying to tell other professionals how to do their job. You know, every teacher has their own way of doing things, their own beliefs and methodology. And, you know, just because I do things a certain way doesn't mean that another teacher should do them that way. So I'm not necessarily going to say what a teacher should do or shouldn't do before they have classes and things like that. But it's it's actually really similar to a student, like a teacher should also identify before they start what their goals are, like, you know, what type of students you want to teach, what level would you like to work with, you know, adults or children or a particular gender or people from a particular country who speak a particular language? How much would you like to earn per hour, or would you rather do courses instead of, you know, individual private classes?

[00:09:29] I think it's important for any professional to define their goals before they get started or at least have some idea of where they're trying to get before they get started, you know, and what type of students they want to work with or what type of work they want to do. But apart from that, I can't really say anything about what teachers should or shouldn't do. All I know is what I should or shouldn't do, but I will still make some recommendations on things that all teachers should stop doing during classes if they truly want to help their student have a more productive class. But I just want to emphasize this is just my opinion. But if you're a teacher listening to this, hit me up and let me know your thoughts. And if you're a student, send this to your teacher and ask them to hit me up and let me know about their thoughts.

[00:10:12] But anyway, here are some things that teachers should stop doing in their language classes. The first one is stop jumping in to rescue your student. Let them struggle through the sentence until they ask for help. As a teacher, it's natural to want to help your student in any way you can. So naturally, when your student gets stuck and you know what they're trying to say, you just want to give them the phrase they're looking for. And there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that. But in my experience, I've noticed that students tend to learn things more effectively when you let them arrive at their own conclusions. If your student get stuck and ask you to translate a word or phrase for them in their native language, try getting them to describe the idea of the word or the phrase. If they describe it in a way that a native speaker would understand, then give them the phrase they're looking for. But if the explanation doesn't make enough sense, then ask them to try explaining it in a different way. Or search on Google for the, the translation. And once they find the translation, you can tell them if it's correct, how to use it naturally, how formal it is, and all those things, right? When you do it this way, you can help your student without doing any of the work for them.

[00:11:25] Now, this obviously isn't the only way and maybe not even the best way to teach but the point is, I'd like you to remember that teaching someone to walk on their own two feet should never involve you walking for them. Allowing them to struggle through the process is better for them in the long run because making it easy on them in class will only make it harder on them in real life. Another thing, teachers, to stop doing is talking so much about English. Just talk about life, you know what I'm saying? There are countless hours of free content online explaining how the English language works, and not only is it generally uninteresting to talk about, it's also not what an English learner really needs to know. Unless, of course, they're trying to pass a test that requires them to know it, like the IELTS, for example.

[00:12:11] But imagine paying for dancing classes and arriving in class only to watch videos of other people dancing or having conversations about dancing. That would be weird. And you probably want your money back. You didn't pay for dance classes to sit around and talk about dancing. You paid because you wanted to learn how to dance. English students generally don't pay for classes because they want to talk about English. They pay for classes because they want to learn how to use English naturally and confidently. And most students don't live in an English-speaking country, so they already spend most of their free time consuming content in English and or about English. That's generally all they can do, or at least that's what they believe. So when they get to class, what they really want and need is to practice using the language, not consume more information about it. And why not just talk about interesting things like common and uncommon interests or life experiences, pop culture, things like these.

[00:13:13] This allows your students to learn in a relaxed, natural environment and use the language the same way they would in the real world. And they end up learning how to communicate in English without realizing it the same way they learned their native language without realizing it. You see what I'm saying? Now, another thing I think teachers should stop doing immediately is treating their students like children. I'm not sure why some teachers, like, choose to treat grown ass men and women like toddlers. And just because they have the speaking ability similar to that of a child doesn't make them children. So smiling abnormally often or using baby talk and a silly voice is something you would never do if you were speaking to a native you just met. So why the fuck are they speaking to adult students like that, bro? I don't get it.

[00:14:06] Now, maybe some teachers want to make the extra effort to create a safe environment for their students so they can feel comfortable enough to speak and make mistakes. I get that a hundred percent, but there's a difference between safe and fake. People in the real world aren't gonna treat them like babies or have the level of patience that language teachers have. I personally don't appreciate being talked to as if I'm a child or as if I'm stupid. And in my experience, most other adults feel the same way. I just find that if you're straight with people, they tend to appreciate it more than you trying to be nice to them, you know? Now, this, of course, is just my opinion based on my experience. Everyone's different so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt, obviously, you know?

[00:14:49] Now, there are a bunch of things that you could start or stop doing if you want to have better English classes. These are just a few that come to mind when I reflect on my experience teaching and learning languages online. So if you're an English teacher or learner, I'd love to hear about your perspective on this subject so feel free to send me a message on Discord, or hit me up on Twitter - @tonykaizen, or shoot me a DM on Instagram - @englishwithkaizen. But that's it for now, my friend. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for your time and your attention. Please remember, if you live your life in English, you will learn English. Please remember if you practice English consistently, you will learn English. Please remember if you invest in your education, if you invest in yourself and your skills, if you stay dedicated, my friend, get a good teacher, a good mentor, some good friends, apply the right methods, there is nothing that you cannot do.

[END OF EPISODE]

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