A Teacher’s Invisible Knowledge and Skill

Let me start with a question. Which of the girls above speaks the most fluent English? Can you put them in order from best to worst fluency?

Now that you’ve done that – note that these are the “Wondergirls”, a Korean girlband phenom. They are being interviewed in America. Watch the first 50 seconds and pause the video (below). Then, check the order again.

Now, watch the rest of the interview (or if not interested, at least some of it) and check your answer. How did you do?

I started with this exercise because it is an excellent example of “teaching skill”. Experienced teachers have a vast amount of “tacit” knowledge that they apply in the classroom. What you see is not all that there is. Experienced teachers can read the body language, the facial expressions, the eyes of their students and assess understanding. For the most part.

This talent of discerning the invisible (which much of language is), is like the sailor looking at the sea and sensing a hidden reef in the distance. Teachers do this all the time and it is something that really can’t be taught, it just comes in time, with time – more so, less so depending on the individual. I swear sometimes I got so good at it – I didn’t even need to give a student a placement test! I’d just say a few sentences, look in their eyes and say – Class 1 or Class 2 or Class 3. Have you ever experienced this.

So when you see a skilled teacher – don’t judge her/him by their cover. There is a lot to it and it is wonderful!

Interested in Korean cultural content for teaching languages? Check out my youtube channel, this post or this post on music.

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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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