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Establishing Rapport (43) Establishing or building rapport in a tesol/tefl classroom relates to the way that teachers relate and effectively involve students in classroom learning. The ability for a teacher to establish or build rapport is relevant to tesol as it may be a predictor of student motivation to learning, classroom participation and learning progress. The word ‘rapport' is a noun and is defined as “a good understanding of someone and an ability to communicate well with them” according to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus at Cambridge University Press. According to the Wordsmyth english Dictionary Thesaurus, the word ‘rapport' is synonymous with ‘affinity' (a close resemblance; likeness in certain characteristics) and similar to the words ‘concord' and ‘sympathy'. ‘Rapport' originated from the old french verb ‘rapporter' which means to carry something back. In the sense of how people relate and interact with each other it means that what one person sends out the other sends back. Rapport is said to occur when two or more people feel that they are ‘in sync' or ‘on the same wavelength' because they relate to each other. It is theorised that the development of rapport is characterised by three behavioral (verbal but particularly non-verbal) components: mutual attentiveness and involvement (i.e. feeling as one), mutual positivity (mutual friendliness and caring) and coordination (i.e. predictability). In terms of interaction mutual attentiveness is generally reflected by gaze and complemented by closer distances and direct body orientation towards one another. Mutual positivity is characterised by smiling, mutual gaze, close distances and touch. Coordination refers to a harmony between people with behaviours synchronised or mimicked, in particular nonverbal behaviours such as leaning forward. The influence of these components in the experience of rapport fluctuates over the course of developing relationships between individuals. In early interactions, positivity and attentiveness are more heavily weighted than coordination, whereas in later interactions, coordination and attentiveness are the more heavily weighted components. Much research shows that interpersonal communication relies on three channels – words, voice and non-verbal (body language). Albert Mehrabian developed a famous 3D model to illustrate the relative impact of words, voice and body language. It was found that the relative impact of these channels was that: 7% of impact is from the words spoken; 38% of impact is from voice; and 55% of impact is from body-language. At first glance this may be mistaken to demonstrate that words are unimportant. Rather, what the model shows is that while words carry the core explicit message, voice and body language are used to assist interpretation. One important implication is that if someone's words are in conflict with their voice or body language, the observer will likely experience a phenomenon called ‘cognitive dissonance' – when voice or body language undermines the meaning of the words. In turn this will influence the observer to question whether the speaker is telling the truth and consequently damages the establishment of rapport. There are a number of techniques that are beneficial in establishing and building rapport. They include mirroring (emotionally, through posture as well as tone and tempo) – similar to coordination; reciprocity - similar to mutual positivity; and commonality - a combination of mutual positivity and attention. Mirroring involves getting into rhythm with another person. Emotional mirroring includes empathising with someone's emotional state by being on 'their side'. Often emotional mirroring involves good listening skills, repeating points and talking about issues. Posture mirroring involves matching a person's body language, not through direct imitation, by assuming a similar posture and energy. Tone and tempo mirroring involves matching the tone, tempo, inflection, and volume of a person's voice. Reciprocity involves giving gifts and rewards or doing favours without receiving anything in return which in itself triggers feelings of obligation. Commonality is the technique of deliberately finding something in common with another person to build a sense of trust. This is done through shared interests, dislikes, and situations. In a survey at Auburn University, first year psychology students were asked to report on: (i) the extent that they had experienced rapport in classes; (ii) the things that teachers did to establish rapport with them; and (iii) how rapport affected their academic behaviour. Only slightly more than half of the students reported that they had experienced rapport with a professor. These students reported that the most common teacher behaviours contributing to the establishment of rapport were, in order: showing a sense of humour; being available before or after class; encouraging class discussion; knowing students' names and learning about students interests; sharing personal insights and experiences; relating course material in everyday terms and examples; and understanding that students occasionally had problems that hindered their progress in their courses. In addition the students reported that the most common positive effects of rapport on their academic behaviour were, in order: an increase in enjoyment of the subject; motivation to come to class more often, and greater attention in class. The researchers suggested the following tips to establish rapport in the classroom: Learn students' names. Learn about students' interests and hobbies. Create and use personally relevant class examples. Arrive to class early and stay behind to talk with students. Explain course policies-and why they are what they are. Use e-mail to increase accessibility to students. Interact more rather than simply lecture at students.Reward student comments and questions with verbal praise Demonstrate enthusiasm about the subject and teaching generally. Use humour. Be humble. Maintain good eye contact with students. Be respectful. Use effective non-verbal communication such as nodding and smiling. Overall research has shown that establishing rapport involves conscious and unconscious efforts involving verbal and non-verbal techniques such as altering distances, orienting body movements towards one another, smiling, gazing, touching, mirroring, giving gifts and rewards, sharing common interests as well as adopting a sense of flexibility (as demonstrated in the Auburn University research). Despite the effort, establishing rapport is not one in vain. Establishing rapport in the classroom has been shown to facilitate both student motivation for learning and their enjoyment of the course, and enhances receptivity to what is being taught.