Nowadays there are abundant changes in teaching approaches along with the learning strategies. In our fast-changing world learners have very different needs. Each learner can have different learning styles or a mixture of learning styles. Unfortunately, the number of students in the language classrooms are usually large and the students are at different levels. The teacher is in quite a difficult position if he/she wants to cater for the needs of each and every student. Teachers play a crucial role in developing a child’s interest towards a subject. A good teacher can adjust to the learning process that is taking place in the classroom and can adopt a number of different roles necessary in the leaning process.
According to Harmer (2001), a teacher has eight roles in managing a class. They are controller, organizer, assessor, prompter, participant, resource, tutor and observer. Before teaching, the teacher has to place herself as a learner and think from the learner’s perspective. In doing so, the teacher can raise students’ interest and motivation during his/her classes.
The most common role is that of a controller. Teachers are used to being in control in the classroom, they are usually in charge of the activity taking place. When acting as a controller the teacher gives the students less opportunities to speak and the classroom is more teacher centered than learner centered. Surely, there are times when the teacher needs to act as a controller in order to be able to manage the class efficiently.
One of the most important teacher roles is that of the organizer. Learners need to be organized to do various activities. As an organizer the teacher needs to motivate the classroom in order to raise interest in participating in the activity. It is crucial to explain what is going to happen and a demonstration of the activity can be of utmost importance in order to avoid confusion on how the task should be accomplished.
Learners like to be praised if they do something well and they also like to get constructive criticism if there are things that need to be improved. In the role of the assessor the teacher gives feedback, correction and grades students in different ways. Students must know how they are being assessed and what for so that they can realize if they are successful or not during the learning process.
A prompter teacher is similar to a motivator helping the students when they are lost in the activity giving them clues or tips, suggesting things they can use. She encourages students to participate and makes suggestions about how students may proceed in an activity but it is very important that teachers remember to help their students only when this is absolutely necessary.
The teacher can take part in an activity, thus becoming a participant. It is vital, though, for him/her to not dominate the activity given the fact that he/she knows more English than the students do. This role improves the atmosphere in the class, the teacher can enliven a class, if a teacher is able to stand back and not become the center of attention, it can be a great way to interact with learners without being too overpowering.
Sometimes, when students are working on a project, in a group or on an individual writing assignment they might not know all the words they would like to use so the teacher needs to act as a resource. He/she needs to provide the spelling of a word or the meaning of a word or phrase. A teacher cannot know everything about the language. Especially if he/she is not a native speaker. Students should be encouraged to look up necessary information on their own, thus encouraging independent learning.
Functioning as a tutor is somewhat harder than the other roles because the term implies a more intimate relationship with individual learners. This can be accomplished during individual work, pair work or small group work when the teacher can provide guidance to those in need. In this case the teacher is a combination of a prompter and a resource. However, the teacher has to remember not to intrude too much because the students might get to dependent on him/her.
All one has to do sometimes is to observe, to see what is happening during the activity, how students are performing, what could be done differently in future lessons for the activity to be more successful. No matter what role the teacher adopts he/she needs to choose wisely because the success of the activity might depend on it.
1. Harmer, J. (2001). The Practice of English Language Teaching.3rd Edition. Longman