Establishing rapport between teacher
and student and student to student is fundamental to a successful learning atmosphere in the classroom. Students need to feel that they are in a learning environment where they are safe and not threatened for their lack of understanding. This rapport will build a healthy learning environment that will foster curiosity, which should engage the dedicated teacher
to respond to the students' educational needs. Students will be reluctant to share information, to interact among peers, and respond to the prompts of the teacher
, unless there is a caring rapport between student and teacher
. This relationship can be established, quite simply, on the first day of class by the effective attitude of the instructor. For example, an instructor's welcoming attitude, such as a warm, smiling face and a hand that holds the door open for students as they enter on the first day, can go a long way toward establishing a good first impression. Instructors can get to know students by name and something about their background and interests. Initial activities should include non-threatening, fun, social games that allow students to get to know each other and interact without apprehension. The instructor's attitude should always be positive, encouraging and non-judgmental. Students should be praised for what they know and not criticized for what they do not know.
The establishment of rapport can reflect in good classroom behavior. Students will be less inclined to misbehave or stay on task, if they know that their behavior affects overall instruction time in the classroom or their relationship with the teacher
and students. Instructors must also be sensitive to the mood of the class or the individual students, if they seem overly distracted and not ready to move on to new material. When an individual student seems to be struggling with either focus or retention that is not typical for their behavior, the instructor needs to address it immediately. An example would be a kind word spoken, as an aside, or an encouraging look that can help to maintain and foster trust between teacher
and student in the classroom. Trust is ongoing and must be nurtured on a daily basis because it can be diminished by one insensitive word or one sarcastic remark.
Instructors can not only help to establish rapport in their verbal comments or demeanor in the classroom but also in their written comments to students on their papers. Students have the right to expect that teacher
s will be thorough in their analysis of a student's response and comments should be instructive and positive, in order to help students gain a greater understanding of the questions
involved. These types of responses should be consistent when making corrections in the classroom when the focus is on pronunciation. The types of responses that the instructor gives in the area of correction of pronunciation will also help establish the mood of the student in the classroom. If the teacher
responds positively to their answer, then students will accept the correction and move forward. If the correction is given harshly or with sarcasm, students may reject the correction and become protective of themselves and their ability to learn a new language. The teacher
is the ultimate role model in the class and how they respond to the students will set the tone and atmosphere of the class. Positive interaction sends the message of care and concern that can become an important part of the learning fabric of the individual and the classroom.
It is in the best interest of both teacher
and the whole class that this critical aspect of teaching be implemented. This will make teaching easier and facilitate more comprehensive learning, which is, of course, the goal of any instructional course.