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TKT Core Module 3:Teachers' and learners' language in the classroom
Teacher roles


We all take on different roles in our lives (teacher, dog-walker, cook, washer up, gardener, advisor, waiter etc.) and the classroom is no different.
In our classrooms, however, we need to be aware of what role we adopt and make sure it is appropriate to what we are doing and to our aims.
This is not easy to achieve.
The main issue here is an old truism:

We cannot teach a language but we can create an environment in which it can be learned.


Key concepts in this guide

By the end of this guide, you should be able to understand and use these key concepts:

  • teacher roles:
    • counsellor
    • planner
    • diagnostician
    • facilitator
    • relationship builder
    • manager
    • assessor
    • disciplinarian
    • knower
    • monitor/assessor
    • contributor
    • narrator
    • designer

Look out for these words like this in the text.
There will be tests at the end of the guide for you to check that you understand the ideas.


A test to start

think Task 1: Here are some teacher activities.  Look at the list in the Key concepts above and match them to the activity.  There are some roles listed above that you do not need.
Click on the table when you have an answer.


We'll look at each role in the order in the table.

  1. Planner
    Obviously, the teacher must be a good planner to make sure that the class get what they need, in the right order and at the right level.
    But planning doesn't stop when teaching begins.  No lesson plan is perfect so it is important to plan as you go, looking forward to the next stage and seeing if it needs changing, moving, delaying or abandoning.
    For more, see the guide in Module 2 to planning.
  2. Manager
    The last guide was about classroom management.  Go back to it by clicking here.
  3. Assessor
    You can be a formal assessor (setting and marking tests and homework and so on).
    And you can be an informal assessor all the time in the classroom asking questions of your students such as
        What does .... mean?
        What's the plural of ... ?

    and asking yourself questions like:
        How are they doing?
        Have they understood the key meanings?
        Can I move on or should I repeat and explain again?

    You need to assess the learners, the lesson and yourself.
    For more, see the guide to assessment in Module 2.
  4. Diagnostician
    Categorising learners' errors is covered in this course and you should revise that if you need to.
    Whenever a learner makes an error, you should ask three questions:
        What sort of error is this?
        Why did it happen?
        Does it need to be corrected?
        Do I need to correct it?
  5. Knower
    You are a walking, talking grammar book and dictionary for your learners.
    If you allow yourself to play this role too often, two bad things happen:
    1. your students will not develop the ability to use other resources such as grammars, style guides, dictionaries and the web
    2. you will spend too much time talking rather than encouraging your learners to find things out or work out rules for themselves
  6. Facilitator
    In Module 1, there is a guide to practice activities and tasks which covers the fact that a task should be neither too easy (so the students don't need you at all) or so difficult that you can't provide enough help.  Being a facilitator is something you can only do if the tasks you set are at the right level.
    It's a key role and means you can scaffold (i.e., support) the learners' efforts.
  7. Relationship builder
    Rapport between you and the learners and between the learners is an important part of creating and maintaining a positive learning atmosphere.  You have to take the lead by treating everyone fairly and not allowing prejudice or exclusion to occur.
    Setting an example by being approachable, pleasant and inclusive is just the beginning.
  8. Counsellor
    Knowing your learners' needs (to which there is a guide in Module 1) will help you to advise them and lead them to good study and learning skills.
  9. Disciplinarian
    With younger learners in particular (but not only with younger learners!), telling someone off for breaking the rules or the class contract is something you will have to do from time to time.
    Remember, however, that if everyone has signed up to a class contract, it is often possible to allow the class and the learners to police themselves.
    For more, see the comments about classroom rules, contracts and routines in the last guide to classroom management.


Changing roles

Inexperienced teachers usually feel quite comfortable taking on a narrow range or roles: planner, manager and knower, for example.
However, a good developmental process is to look at the other possible roles in the list of nine and decide to take on a different one each week at some point.

thinkwrite Task 2: What are the advantages to having a range of roles?
Take a little time to make some notes and see if you can think of two good reasons.
Then click eye open.

self test

Self-test questions

Before you go on, make sure you can answer this question.  If you can't, go back to the sections which give you trouble.

If you are happy with your progress, go on.


Tests and practice for TKT

There's only one practice test.

Test 1 A matching task

Now you can return to the Module 3 index: arrow
or go on to the next guide which is to grouping learners.