Hit it like Hiddink!

I’m not much of a soccer player anymore, had my day and that’s that. However, I’ve always admired the success and uniqueness of Guus Hiddink – the coach who propelled Korea to the World Cup semi finals. He coaches like we should teach (and I submit, an English language teacher is more a coach – getting his players to play well than  “instruct” preaching at his players.

He is famous for his motivation. Park Ji-Sung, then a very inexperienced player says, “Coach Hiddink made me believe.”. And now the student is the great one, as earlier as this past weekend scoring Manchester U’s winning goal. Hiddink has had success, we should — as teachers we should “hit it like Hiddink”. Here are the 3 things he professes to believe.

1. Keep the game simple.

The goal is the goal. For us teachers it is that our students “communicate”. In whatever shape, form, manner or means. That’s what it is all about. Not memorizing, test scores, sitting up straight, parroting ….. Keep it simple – get your students to “use” English in a way that is meaningful. That way, they will score and everyone will win.

2. Communicate not with words but by doing. Hiddink was famous for “showing” his players. No charts and diagrams. Just taking the ball and showing how it should be done. As a teacher – model. Model correct language, model how the activities will be done. Show and go. Don’t explain – you’ll only lose the game.

3. Demand others work as hard as you. If you as a teacher don’t work hard, if you as a teacher don’t show passion towards the language, if you as a teacher don’t show you care, your “players” won’t. Demand that they work and at the same time, show that you work hard too. Your students will rise to the occassion through your leadership.

That’s it — teaching 101 from none other than Guss Hiddink. Now get coaching and report back the goals you’ve scored!

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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3 Responses

  1. Can’t disagree with any of this, Dave – and Guus was the first coach to take our Aussie team to the World Cup (and 2nd round “to boot”- where we were VERY narrowly pipped by Italy) in a very very very long time 🙂

    I particularly like your third point there about being passionate and demanding – not because it’s more important than the others, but because I often feel it gets pushed out or frowned on by so-called experts who haven’t actually been in a lot of real classrooms for a very long time (and who seem to think language development will just happen if everyone is super nice and doesn’t do anything to remotely “stress” the learners).

    I think if you show genuine passion for what you are teaching, you have a right to be demanding, in a positive and challenging and energetic way.

  2. David says:


    I hear you. I really think we do a disservice if we don’t “demand” as well as support. I really am a big fan of Andrew Finch, as you know and one of the things he’s written about is how teachers are “coaches” and motivators. Part of motivation has to be leadership and standards. Without it, it all falls to pieces. I’m a REALLY big fan of setting specific goals at the start of a year or course. Not vague stuff but measurable things your students can achieve, monitor.

    Let’s hope Korea does well again! I have such fond memories from around the world during the world cup. Another one is coming…..


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