The language of teaching


I was talking to @RoyWatsonDavis about this yesterday but have also been pondering what makes a great teacher.

One key thing that can make a significant difference is the language a teacher uses.

A skilled teacher may not even realise it but what they say and how they say it, is core to students understanding what they are learning.

A great teacher uses language, terminology and phrases that they know can help students access learning at all levels and vary these according to who they have in front of them.

These teachers also know when a new phrase or way of explaining is needed. They don’t just keep repeating but instantly recognise a student is stuck and rephrases the same information in a different way.

They know when to speak and when saying nothing is best.

The words a teacher uses have the power to motivate and the power the demotivate. It is such an important aspect of teaching it is well worth analysing teacher speech when considering teacher effectiveness. If you ask students what makes a great teacher they can often recognise that a teacher ‘explains it well’. What they means is, they know what words to choose and in which order to use them in order to ensure they understand.

Where it goes wrong, teacher language can be patronising, too complex/simple , poorly phrased, too quick/slow or mono-toned; it’s almost an art.
The question that arises from this is:

Can you teach someone the art of successful teacher language?


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