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  1. #1
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    Default Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    Hi everyone,

    I am new here and am looking for some honest advice from TEFL teachers and I thought this might be a good place to ask.

    I have been considering taking a CELTA course for some time now but have always been quite apprehensive about getting up in front of a class. Last month, I decided to attend a TEFL taster weekend to give myself an idea of what the CELTA course would be like. I thoroughly enjoyed all the theory & learning about grammar and different types of lessons, but when it came to doing a 10 minute teaching practice in front of the other students on the course, I was a nervous wreck! Although I got through my lessons (unlike a few others on the course) I felt sick with nerves all the way through. My throat was dry, my voice wasn't loud enough, my hands were shaking, my blackboard writing was all wobbly and my knees were trembling so much that I was rooted to the one spot, holding onto the board all the way through. Everyone said that I appeared calm but I certainly didn't feel it. I noticed that other students seemed very natural and relaxed when they were doing their practice - almost like they had a talent to teach people.

    I am not a naturally confident person. I really am quite introverted and shy and I wondered if perhaps this means that I would not make a good teacher. Obviously talking in front of a class is the main part of being a TEFL teacher so its important to be comfortable and confident doing so. Does this confidence come with practice to people, like me, who are shy, or should you already have it before you begin a course? I know I would be fine teaching people one-to-one, but I get so nervous at the thought of standing in front of a class...especially throughout the CELTA course where you are also being observed.

    I know that I would enjoy the lesson preparations and the creativity involved and certainly being able to help people learn another language, but I don't know if I can get over the nerves I have about taking a class. Can anyone offer me some advice? Has anyone felt similar and managed to overcome their nerves, or do you think that it takes an already confident person to succeed in this field?

    Sorry this post is so long! I have not been sure where to get some honest advice about this so thank you for any help that you are able to give me.

    Lesley

  2. #2
    Morpheus is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    Hello, Lesley

    Your problem is rooted in your perception of the people in front of you. You consider them to be your judges. In fact you transfer the inner archetype of your father on them, so all of them represent your father who can say whether your performance is good or not. You had quite a strict father, didn't you? ;)

    There are many ways to overcome that complex of yours. I can recommend special trainings of assertiveness if you can find any where you live. But even without that you can start by visualizing the audience as funny small rabbits (just imagine their long ears! :) or silly 5 year old kids. Or you could even visualize them all naked That may sound funny but it helps. The trick is to make yourself the main judge of what you do. The audience is there just to hang on your every word with their funny long ears

    Turn it into fun and you will gain confidence.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    bianca is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    and don't take youself in too much earnest! Be prepared that you will make some mistakes, but don't lose face, laugh at them or ignore them instead. We all make mistakes, question is how we react when we do make them. Last but not least, nervousity makes your voice drop while talking faster and faster. This, in turn, betrays lack of self-confidence, and the audience will lose interest. Some people don't have much substance in what they 'preach', but they display so great self-confidence that they make their stuff sound better than it is! Be aware of this, slow down and speak up. Don't look into the eyes of the people ahead of you, but somewhere further back.

    Practise at home, in front of the mirror or in front of friends or family. Practice makes perfect.

    Have you heard of the famous Greek orator Demosthenes? In the beginning, he was like you. Read here, and learn:

    "The first time Demosthenes made a speech in the public assembly was a disaster. Discouraged, he was fortunate to run into an actor who helped show him what he needed to do to make his speeches compelling. To perfect the technique, he set up a routine, which he followed for months until he had mastered oratory. Hereupon he built himself a place to study in underground, and hither he would come constantly every day to form his action and to exercise his voice; and here he would continue, oftentimes without intermission, two or three months together,shaving one half of his head... "(Well, you may skip the last part )

    I also remember reading that he put pebbles in his mouth to slow him down when speaking too fast. Do you mind...pebbles??

    Demosthenes - Greek Orator Demosthenes
    Last edited by bianca; 20-Jul-2007 at 21:01.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    Hi,

    Im not naturally confident at all - I was very shy as a young person and this seems to have continued into adulthood...I was VERY unsure as to whether I could teach or not, but I realised that standing in front of a class really increases confidence within my self.

    At first, I was nervous - Very nervous - But eventually I began to relax and see myself as the one "in charge", not, as the others have said, like Im being judged. The students are there to learn from you, not judge you!

    It takes time to get used to it, but believe me, if you keep at it, you will begin to feel more confident within yourself :)

  5. #5
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    Bianca you mention two important points:
    1. Talking faster and faster betrays lack of self-confidence..slow down and speak up. I also remember reading that he put pebbles in his mouth to slow him down when speaking too fast. Do you mind...pebbles??
    Now I know more about the pebbles.
    2. "Don't look into the eyes of the people ahead of you, but somewhere further back" Could you explain what you mean here? It sounds very interesting.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post a reply to my question. These have all been very interesting and helpful to me. From what you have all said I can see that my lack of confidence is something that I can perhaps overcome with time and practice. I know that there are lots of self-help books on the market which explain more in-depth some of the ideas that people here have described here so I think I might take a trip to my local bookshop to see what I can find.

    Somebody once told me that the best thing to do when I feel hesitant about something is 'don't think about it, just do it' and I am sure that once I did it, I would be fine after a little while. Most often the thought of something is far scarier than the reality (in my mind anyway!)

    Once again, thank you for all your replies. I appreciate your comments very much.

    Lesley.

    p.s. Morpheus, yes, I do have a strict father!

  7. #7
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morpheus View Post
    Your problem is rooted in your perception of the people in front of you. You consider them to be your judges. In fact you transfer the inner archetype of your father on them, so all of them represent your father who can say whether your performance is good or not. You had quite a strict father, didn't you?
    Morpheus: you are talking about A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). You are right we consider people as judges. We worry in social situations specifically when we are being evaluated by others. We become anxious we may be judged negatively and look for signs of disapproval. The problem is life is full of evaluation, judgement and appraisal of performance. We particularly fear other people's scrutinizing eyes and facial expression. This method does help and have been applied in psychiatric treatment of social anxiety. Thanks Morpheus and I would love to hear from you more. Have you studied psychology?

    My own way of dealing with such problems is: shift your focus ie instead of focusing yourself concentrate on what you are saying. Forget yourself for a moment. It is stressful. Don't forget you are not always the centre of intertest. Still take people seriously and practise concentration. Finally such wise words follow a cognitive approach but I believe we are more than a mind. Practising in fornt of some friends might help as well.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 21-Jul-2007 at 16:24.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim View Post
    My own way of dealing with such problems is: shift your focus ie instead of focusing yourself concentrate on what are you saying. Forget yourself for a moment. It is stressful. Don't forget you are not always the centre of intertest. Still take people seriously and practise concentration. Finally such wise words follow a cognitive approach but I believe we are more than a mind. Practising in fornt of some friends might help as well.
    We appear to have the same approach (See post #5).

  9. #9
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    We appear to have the same approach (See post #5).
    True Casiopea. I like your ideas of risk taking and shifting focus. Btw what presenters mosly fear is the audience. Sometimes there are difficult people, people who want to show off and...Mybe strategies of how to deal with difficult people are useful. But I would say you can't approach this problem only cognitively. Your whole body should be involved. Rememeber: We are body, soul and mind. Finally what I am saying sounds to me like: a so called Dr Greenberg who treats other people but himself is urgently in need of therapy.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Do you have to be naturally confident to be a good teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim View Post
    ... what presenters mos[t]ly fear is the audience. Sometimes there are difficult people, people who want to show off and ... M[a]ybe strategies of how to deal with difficult people are useful.
    Well, the poster didn't mention that as being an issue, but it's a related topic, so, what are your thoughts on such strategies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
    But I would say you can't approach this problem only cognitively. Your whole body should be involved.
    So, how would an online moderator, like me, for example, use body?

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