Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Teacher's Effective Functioning in the Elt Classroom (the Background and Present Status of the Problem)

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Teacher's Effective Functioning in the Elt Classroom (the Background and Present Status of the Problem)

Article excerpt


It is obvious that the role of the teacher in the ELT classroom is crucial since it is the teacher who determines the goals and chooses the method(s) of teaching, the way in which the classroom environment evolves, the textbooks to be used, etc.

However, nowadays views are somewhat mixed as to what teachers are and what functions they are supposed to have. On the other hand, our experience and interviewing of over 50 school and university ELT teachers show that the majority of them stick only to one or two classroom roles. Moreover, when asked what roles they know they were able to mention just few ones, such as "explainer", "motivator", "controller" and sometimes "actor". However, the role/roles the teacher chooses may influence a lot the effectiveness of the teaching process.

Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the theoretical basis of the problem and present a comprehensive list of ELT teachers' possible roles in the classroom matching them with the corresponding functions on order to enrich teachers' theoretical knowledge and repertoire.


The methods used include content and comparative analysis, data systematization and generalization, interviewing, projecting and forecasting.


Our study reveals that using a full range of the ELT teacher's roles/functions in the classroom enables practitioners to highly increase the effectiveness of the learning process. However, the majority of ELT teachers do not know much what these roles are, when and how to use them. The paper analyzes possible roles and the corresponding functions for the teachers to choose the appropriate ones depending on the circumstances.


To begin with, in dictionaries we can find a variety of messages about teaching. For instance, in the Cambridge International Dictionary of English (1995) teaching is defined as giving someone knowledge or instructing or training someone. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (1995), on the other hand, presents teaching as showing somebody how to do something or changing somebody's ideas. The similar situation we find in ELT methodology where theorists and practical teachers are discussing a most vital question. Is teaching about the transmission of knowledge from teacher to student, or is it about creating conditions in which students are supposed to learn for themselves?

Answering this question the representatives of the humanistic and communicative theories put forward and supported the ideas of "learner- centered" teaching which makes learner's needs and experience central to the educational process. It is students' needs, experiences and responses that should now drive the syllabus. The measure of a good lesson is students' activity, not the performance of the teacher. In this case the teacher is no longer the giver of the knowledge, the controller or the instructor, but rather a facilitator, sometimes an "orchestra conductor" who directs the communication, sets its pace and tone, or a "gardener" who plants the seeds and watches them grow. ".. .it is necessary to state that the language learner is or should be the central figure in any language teaching theory."

However, not all methodologists are ready to accept the ideas of "learner-centredness". For instance, R. O'Neil, a famous teacher- trainer in his paper "The plausible myth of learner-centredness" shows that letting students do the learning on their own with teachers as a resource might amount to a form of neglect. He is sure that there is nothing wrong with the knowledge giving role of the teacher. It has always worked and many students feel more comfortable with it.

Thus, there are two "polar" positions: teacher as the giver of the information, instructor and controller versus teacher as a facilitator and observer. However, we cannot accept this "either.or" approach. Our experience as an ELT teacher shows that there are various shadows and nuances and the teacher's role may and should change from one activity to another, even from one stage of an activity to another during the lesson depending on how we feel about teaching and what we are comfortable with, on the type of the activity, as well as on who the students are and their background, etc. …

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