Stating that good teachers are born and not made renders personality the sole characteristic determining teachers’ success. Bearing in mind the attractive image of a teacher as an entertainer, it is not hard to agree with the statement, however, at the cost of condemning excellent educators who do not possess the capability to enliven crowds. Even though students certainly like teachers who make them laugh, amusement does not necessarily imply the occurrence of learning. However, even an ability to teach is a problematic aspect since it relies on the idea of transmitting knowledge directly from a teacher to students. This is often not the case in an effective classroom environment in which students take the responsibility for their own education.
A concept perhaps more apt for defining a teacher is that of a provider of suitable learning conditions. This foregrounds students’ needs while placing emphasis on characteristics sustaining progress. For example, the primary source of enjoyment should arise from properly developed activities rather than from teachers themselves. Similarly, if teachers limit their role to that of a guide through the various aspects of language, the attention is only diverted further from them.
Our students have expressed such needs during the past academic year rather clearly, considering their choices of extracurricular activities at PELICAN, by writing articles for the school magazine, doing interviews with bands, recording various videos, and getting acquainted with other cultures during international visits. Altogether, their main concern appears to lie within the boundaries of a successful communication, well outside the prototypical paradigm of passing a language exam.
An appropriate response could be to venture outside the comfort zone delineated by the simplified language of textbooks in order to explore authentic examples. Not only such input provides an inventory of prefabricated chunks as well as the opportunity to observe semantic prosody, both aspects successfully omitted by the usual choice of materials, a lexical syllabus also includes the central areas of grammar. However, as a significant portion of such content depends on the learners, it makes one wonder where the next course will end.