Hey everyone. Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 144. And today we’re going to talk about what makes a good English teacher.

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in for another episode of the InFluency Podcast. And today I want to talk about teaching. And not from the teacher’s perspective, but from the student’s perspective. Meaning, you, if you’re a student, and you are thinking of working with a teacher. Or maybe you have worked with a teacher, and you’re not sure if they are the right teacher for you.

Or that you’ve gotten everything that you could have from that experience. And maybe you’re in the middle of a learning process, and you feel like there’s more potential to that process. And you want to take more advantage of the time that you have with that teacher. So, if that’s the case, this episode is for you.

And I actually want to start with a different story. So a few months ago, we renovated our apartment. We are renting an apartment in Tel Aviv. And we’ve been living in it for four years; about four years, yes. And we decided that even though we don’t own the place, we really want to make some changes to make it better to live in.

Now, I love hardwood floors. Like, I love it, I have it in my studio. The ideal place for me, like when I imagine my ideal home or the ideal place to live in, I imagine a place with hardwood floors. So when we renovated the house, I told Gil, my partner, I said, “Listen, we gotta get hardwood floors.

So, we found a place with laminated floors, wooden floors. So it’s not real wood, but it looks like wood. And we were looking in a few different places until we found the color that we wanted. Now, the next thing was to install the floor, right? And when I renovated my studio, we had this amazing guy who came in and installed the laminated floors in the studio in like two hours. He did excellent work. He was so nice, and super professional. And we knew that we’re going to get him to come and do the work.

But when we were at the store where we bought the floors, the owner of the store said, “Listen, you know, I’m going to give you a special price, if you take my guy. He’s my cousin, you know. He’s really good, he’s going to do it for you. He can pick it up from here. You won’t have to get it delivered.”

And we were like, “Mm, okay. I mean, I guess it’s okay. Doesn’t really matter. Right?” Like, it doesn’t really matter who installs it. You just need to find someone who knows how to do the work and that’s it. So, we set a time. He didn’t show up the first time. We scheduled another time, he didn’t show up the second time.

The third time he showed up. Now, you can hear from the tone of my voice where that is going, right? The third time he showed up, and it took him a full day to do half of the apartment. And along the way he managed to break our dishwasher – cause he tried to pull it out of the spot – and messed up the entire home.

Then we had to wait for another week because he couldn’t find the time to come and install the rest of the floor. So, we were living in this mess for over a week. And then, after he had finally finished, we discovered that he didn’t do a good enough job. And he left one piece a little too long, and it started messing up all the rest of the floors.

And then he came in on my birthday. And he made a mess again, and tried to fix it. And up until today, every time I walk on the floor – which I love by the way, the color is beautiful – and I hear it creaking below me, I say to myself, “Never settle again, if you know someone that you’re happy with their services. Just stick with them.”

Because providing service is more than just doing the job. It’s having the sensitivity to know how to do it. It’s the experience. It’s the ability to work with people and communicate with them properly. It’s understanding your clients and your customers.

Now, what does that have to do with teachers? Because teachers are service providers, and we need to deliver. Now as a customer/student, you want to always know if the teacher you’re working with is the right teacher for you. And that you’re getting what you specifically need,

and you’re taking advantage of your time together. One of the reasons why that doesn’t happen is because you are not communicating your needs properly. Sometimes, you might feel bad telling your teacher that this doesn’t work for you. Or that you’re less interested in working on pronunciation, or grammar, or doing unseen exercises. Right?

So you keep on doing something that is not right for you, that you don’t enjoy. And the result is that you’re not getting your money’s worth. More than that, more than the money, you’re not taking advantage of the precious time that you have saved for improving your English.

So, in this episode, I’m going to share with you a few ways to know if the teacher you’re working with is the right teacher for you; how to find the right teacher for you; and how to communicate your needs in a way that serves both of you.

So, let’s listen to the episode.

Have you ever taken private lessons with a tutor or an English teacher or even group classes, and you weren’t sure if this is the right teacher for you? Have you ever wondered whether or not you’re just wasting your time or actually seeing progress? So, this episode is about how to know if you are learning with the right teacher for you, and if you are getting the best out of your training. So let’s get started. The first thing you need to ask yourself, is what is the emotion that you’re experiencing once the class has ended.

Do you feel this bubbly excitement of success and improvement? Do you feel defeated and challenged, but you have clarity, you know what you need to work on? Do you feel tired, but happy?

Do you feel good about yourself? Or do you feel like a failure? Do you beat yourself up? Do you feel like you’ll never be able to get it? Do you feel self-conscious? Are you ashamed? A good teacher will never let you feel bad about yourself. Because a good teacher will always empower you, make you feel great about yourself; show your strengths, but also your weaknesses with a clear strategy on how to improve that. They will not keep you confused or stuck or feeling self-conscious, and feeling like a failure.

You know, I was once talking to a teacher that used to teach at this really big language school. And he said that the management had asked them to understand what the biggest struggles of their students are, and then to accentuate them, make them a big deal. Instead of helping them resolve it.

Why? Because it was their marketing strategy. It kept them in the school. It kept them taking more and more and more classes. But it’s a horrible strategy, if you ask me. But unfortunately, people do that. So you, as an English learner, you need to understand what it is that you’re experiencing. And if these are negative feelings, then something is wrong. Because this is not how it’s supposed to be.

Another thing you need to ask yourself is who does most of the talking. If you find yourself just sitting there and listening to the teacher talk about English and about things and about rules, and explaining all of these things to you, and you find yourself not speaking as much – it’s a problem. Because you need to do most of the speaking: with feedback, with guidance, with direction. But you need to do most of the speaking.

So if you find yourself mostly listening and reading, or writing, then you might be missing out on a better opportunity to practice. Because if you’re learning just passively, constantly, it’s just like watching a YouTube video. You want to put it to practice right away and as much as possible. So this is something, by the way, that you can tell your teacher that you want to do. You can say, “Hey, I feel like I’m not Speaking enough. Let’s try a session where we just talk about things that bother me, a few subjects. Maybe read an article and then talk about it. But I want to do most of the talking, and you just give me feedback”.

Now, of course, when you go into a lesson, it’s easier to just sit down and listen, and be less active. But you got to catch yourself because if that’s a situation you’re wasting your time and money, right? So although it’s easier and more convenient, you got to step out of your comfort zone, you got to feel uncomfortable. You got to push yourself, and you got to stand your ground and say what you need, and communicate it clearly to your teacher.

The third thing you need to ask yourself is, are you both aligned with what is the best way for you to learn? What is the best content to discuss, what is the best way for you to get feedback? Some people prefer to get feedback right away, every time they mistake on every single thing. Others prefer to get feedback only on the important things. And some may prefer to get feedback only at the end, so they don’t lose their train of thought as they’re trying to speak.

You need to understand what works best for you, and you need to communicate that to your teacher. Because some teachers are sometimes teaching because that’s what they think is best. And if someone tells you, “No-no, I know what’s best for you, you listen to me”, and that person is not empathetic or is sensitive to your needs.

Same thing with content. If your teacher teaches you things that are not interesting to you, or you feel you’ll never use, then you need to say, “Hey. This doesn’t work for me. Let’s try something else. I want to talk about this, and I need to talk about that. And this is my world of content. This is where I come from. I want to discuss technology, and negotiations, and practice small talk. And I don’t want so much to talk about hypothetical situations of Martha and Arthur at the zoo.”

Understand that even if you are with the same teacher, there isn’t just one method of teaching English. And you need to see if something’s working for you. Is it getting your results? Do you understand it? Do you pick it up quickly? If not, there is a problem with a method, not with you. Okay? It’s not you that is the problem. Maybe it’s the method, maybe it’s the energy, maybe it’s how you feel.

Because when you feel self-conscious the brain shuts down and you don’t learn anything new. But when you feel empowered and open and challenged in a good way, then you are open to change. In order for you to learn something deeply, in order for it to stick, you need to associate good emotion as you’re learning. And if the feeling is of frustration and fear, then it’s not gonna stick. Okay? So you need to be aware of that and change whatever needs to change in order for you to create the best circumstances for yourself.

The fourth thing is, do you know your 20% percent? According to the Pareto principle, 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. So, if we look at the business world, for example, then we can say that 20% of the products lead to the 80% of the revenue. Or 20% of the clients are responsible for 80% of the income.

So in English, it’s very much the same thing. If you work on the areas where you struggle with, okay, whether it’s specific grammar rules or specific sounds, or an element of fluency. If you work on that and just on that, it will get you 80% of the results of where you want to be. So, you need to know what are the things that will get you the best results. And your teacher needs to recognize those things and tell you, communicate to you what they are.

So, whether or not you need to work on your present tense, because everything else is great, but you always get stuck when you try to speak in the present tense. And what do you need to do in order to improve that? Or let’s say that in terms of clarity, you have all these things in your speech, but you don’t need to work on all the sounds. It’s enough that you work on the R and on your rhythm, and it will give you a huge boost to your clarity.

So your job is to know what your 20% is. What are the things that you still struggle with? But if you resolve them, it will kind of like open up the gates to fluency, and you will feel a lot more fluent, you’ll get stuck less, and you’ll be a lot clearer, and focus just on that. And you two need to do that together.

So, if that hasn’t been communicated to you just yet, then you need to ask your teacher to tell you what those things are. And ask your teacher to focus on those things, as you’re learning. But if they don’t know, and they start giving you all of these things; and every time they give you feedback, they give you a lot of notes about everything and you feel overwhelmed and confused, then there’s a problem. Even when you get feedback, the feedback should be the 20% the things that will get you the best results. Because you don’t need to start correcting every single thing. It will be super inhibiting and almost impossible to grow from there.

The last thing is, do you feel intellectually challenged? Do you feel that your teacher sees you as a peer, as a person who can conduct a conversation, an intelligent conversation with this language barrier? Yes, with less vocabulary, but still, the content is engaging and interesting. If you feel that they’re speaking to you like a little kid, it will make you feel like a little kid.

So you need to feel that your intelligence is not compromised. You need to be able to talk about deep things. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you make mistakes, and even if you’re lacking the vocabulary. Your teacher is there to help you. Right? But you don’t need to feel like you are only talking about stupid things just because it’s an English class. No, that’s the wrong direction. And of course you can tell your teacher that, and change that. Take charge of your training. Okay?

So, to conclude, you have to be responsible for the time that you’re investing. Don’t leave all responsibility to the teacher. Sometimes they don’t know what they’re doing. Sometimes they think that they’re doing the best thing for you, when in fact it’s not. And it’s like in a relationship, right? If you’re not gonna speak up, nothing will change. And then at the end you will quit and everyone loses, okay? You lose time and money, and they lose an opportunity to really help someone. Okay?

So communicate your needs, understand your needs. Understand what is not working for you, and then change. it. So to conclude, I want you to take action and answer these two questions in the comments below. The first thing is, tell us about one really good experience with a teacher, and one not so good experience with a teacher; and why that happened, and what did you do about it?

The second thing is, what to your opinion makes a good teacher, right? What are you looking for in a good teacher? So, I named my five things. I’m really curious to hear what are the things that you are looking for in a good teacher. So just so you know, you don’t really have to take private lessons or group classes in order to improve your English. You can do that on your own.

And if you want to do it, watching YouTube videos and using online resources, I’d be happy to help you. And you can also visit my website to get a lot of free stuff, free courses, and really feel the improvement, improve significantly.

Thank you so much. And I’ll see you next week. Bye.