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How to Become an Effective and Efficient 21st Century Language Teacher

By my writings, I hope to inspire you and make a difference in your life.


Are you a 21st century teacher?

What does it mean to be a 21st century teacher? What makes a language teacher effective and efficient in a world that is in transition? Does it rest on the materials, strategies or techniques they use in the classroom, the tasks to get students involved, or their attitudes and relationship with the learners? Apparently, no one out there has all the answers to these buzzwords thrown around.


Teaching of a second or foreign language draws on a number of sources for principles, designs and practices to implement at the level of objectives, teacher and learner roles, and activities. However, when we enter the classroom, we tend to develop our own practices that are more likely to reflect our practical experiences.

A new millennium language teacher embodies the following characteristics in order to produce quality students.

1. One must be REFLECTIVE about his/her practices and CONNECT with students.

Building connections with the students and figuring out the manners of learning that work best for them individually or collaboratively is of great deal- whether it is visual, auditory, or kinesthetic and the like.

"Teachers are encouraged to characterize their own teaching style (or a teaching style) to which they aspired to characterize the learning style(s) they found predominant among their students."

For example: One of the challenges in my grammar class is the cultural background of my students, who are more on the note-taking strategy, repetition, translation and explanation. I’m aware that it’s their identity. So, lecture-discussion, note taking and drills are all part of our routine.

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2. Being DYNAMIC is the key!

A little content will do and then, let students explore and use their learned concepts. Motivate them to use the language whenever possible and at the same time, allow them to fail but address errors immediately through processing.

When teaching a language, we’re not just concerned with grammar itself, the necessary vocabulary and developing students’ writing and speaking, but that includes helping them use it more effectively and properly in real contexts. Components are interrelated. After all, our aim is a holistic instruction.

Necessary practice should be given to students to construct meaning. The teacher as a “guide on the side” engages and encourages students to meaningful exchange of information and use of language. If we want to equip them with adequate language skills, communication where situations rest in their everyday environment is a worthy exposure.

3. Efficient language teachers look for best alternatives to create rich content and to make a classroom interactive.

a) Using varied techniques and strategies like integrating intellectually stimulating learning opportunities allow them not just to learn the language, but more importantly to understand multiple perspectives to flourish as individuals and to work creatively with others. It’s like bringing the world into the classroom through authentic materials like pictures, videos, songs, news clips, text and reading materials (from the internet and literature), etc. Instruction, in this case, becomes “real and genuine” as it is driven by what’s going on outside the classroom. That way, they get a sneak peek of reality and they could easily share their thoughts and ideas.

b) Today’s educational set up - blended classrooms and e-Learning methods are prevalent. To be efficient, careful selection of resources and digital tools are paramount to craft a multimedia classroom. Teachers are now filters of resources- which are educative and non-educative, made available to students. And at the heart of this concern, we speak a great deal about the 21st century learners since a student-centered classroom is what we want to be the ‘reality’ not the ‘expectation’.

It means different to different people.

Gone are the days where students sat passively on lecture days. Yes, they did learn how to read, write and effectively communicate their ideas in that manner. Certain things might be working then, and may still work now but the way students grasp content has already evolved because of the advent of educational trends and advances.

Now, defining who and pointing out how to be an effective and efficient 21st century language teacher is as tough and complicated as language teaching itself. It means different to different people. And as it becomes a prominent issue in the field of education, there will always be great demands and challenges.

How to get there?

Strive each day! Teaching is a rewarding experience from which we learn every day.


© 2022 Sangie Ceneta

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