The Role of the Teacher in Foreign Language Teaching abstract ，the teacher plays a significant and
irreplaceable part in education. this paper demonstrates the multiple roles that teachers play, especially language teachers in the process of teaching. the good teacher never works as mere deliverer of information, but take on the roles as mentor, assessor, facilitator, participant, guide in cultural teaching and morality, and learner as well. ;since every individual student is an integrated and dynamic body, the teacher should take into consideration all kinds of the cognitive, affective as well as social factors that involve learning. teachers must be proficient in their career to enable the students to make some academic achievements. then they should facilitate learning by encouraging and motivating students and providing a comfortable learning environment. language teachers should also pay attention to foster the right attitude of students towards different cultures. meanwhile, teachers are themselves learners and it is necessary to continue to pursue professional and personal growth in teaching.
;key words: teachers’ role; mentor; promoter; guide; learner
;the importance of education in modern society can never be overstated. since the goal of education is to lead people from the darkness of ignorance to the light of truth. teachers, as the guides, play a major part in this career. teaching is an art, and teachers are artists. the key to successful teaching depends on how well teachers play their roles and deal with the relationship with students.
;in order to exert the proper kind of relationship on students, teachers should be qualified in many aspects. according to allen, good esl teachers have competent preparation leading to a degree in tesl; a love of the english language; the critical faculty; the persistent urge to upgrade oneself; self-subordination; readiness to go the extra mile; cultural
ity; professional citizenship; and a feeling of adaptabil
excitement about one’s work (brown 2001).
;with the development of the notion of education and language teaching theory, however, the role of teachers transferred from “a static /institutional to an innovative /democratic and global teacher role” (ayse 2006). the change of
teacher-centered to learner-centered approach to language
teaching has put higher requirement for teachers. teachers should never be only deliverers of information to their students form textbook. brown stated that a spectrum of possibilities of the roles of teachers included: “controllers, director, manger, facilitator, resource”
;this paper is a demonstration of the multiple roles that teachers play, especially language teachers in the process of teaching. in the first place, teachers must be competent mentors in their specialty to enable the students to be proficient. then they should act as facilitator to motivate students and provide a comfortable learning environment. another prominent role of language teachers is that they have the opportunity and responsibility to foster the proper attitude of the students towards different cultures. moreover, teachers are also learners and it is necessary for them to continue to improve themselves in their professional field and other related aspects.
;part 1 the teacher as mentor and assessor
;1.1 the teacher as mentor
s job consists of ;china has a saying that teacher’
transferring knowledge and cultivating people. the primary role of the teacher is professional — practical instructor.
it is the teacher’s duty to impart professional knowledge to their students. the teacher should help students achieve certain proficiency level and develop intellectual excellence through learning.
;in the teaching practice, the mentor is meanwhile organizer and controller. it is natural that in teaching a foreign language it often involves the teacher as a controlling role. a teacher controls not only what the students do, but when they speak and what language they use (ma yinchu 1992). the teacher is required to be more qualified in the ability to organize classroom activities in the learner-centered approach to language teaching.
;nevertheless, it is worth noting that teachers should not act as mere professional instructors. the relationship between students and teachers is not that students only expect to appropriate useful information from their teachers while teachers try to get rewards by transmitting academic information and satisfying the standardized tests. according to freire (1998), to teach is not to transfer knowledge but
to create through possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge. therefore, what is more important in the teaching process is to teach students some skills and strategies that can help them work more effectively. more emphases ought to be put on the students’ ability to learn
rather than the slavish acceptance and positive memorization of knowledge. furthermore, teachers as mentors should create more opportunities to foster learners’ automaticity.
;1.2 the teacher as assessor
;the procedure following teaching professional knowledge is the assessment of students’ learning effects, which is as
well a major part of the teacher’s job. teachers need to know
how well their students can perform in their academic field. moreover, teachers to students are what physicians to patients. the task of teachers is to diagnose the problems that puzzle learners. giving exams and homework is necessary and significant to achieve the purpose. by treating the classroom as a doctor’s clinic, in which the teacher acts
as counselor, and learning physician, the teacher can talk with and counsel those who need assistance in the classroom; can focus on learning-problems; can prescribe courses of
learning action (finch 2002).
;as to the attitude of error-correction, modern language teaching theories hold that errors are inevitable and even unnecessary to be corrected if it does not hamper normal communication. celce-murcia stated that, the teacher’s role
is primarily to facilitate learning and only second to correct errors in the communicative approach to language teaching (2001:8). therefore, teachers should stick to this principle as a guide in teaching and give proper feedback to their students.
;part 2 the teacher as participant and promoter ;2.1 the teacher as participant
;besides the cognitive factors of learning, the affective factors play a significant part in language learning, such as students’ belief, confidence, and motivation. the “input
hypothesis” theory raised by american linguist krashen showed that the affective factors can directly influence learners’ behavior and achievement (zhu xiufeng 2007). beck points out that a teacher is not one who imparts knowledge, but he limits himself to the one who investigates together with the learner (1985:119). thus teachers are required to
undertake the roles of participant and promoter in classroom interaction to reduce the possible anxiety of students. ;although teachers must maintain some control to organize the teaching activities, they do not act as despots or masters. on the contrary, they also co-investigate what is taught to their students and solve problems with them collaboratively. they may take part in an activity as an equal with students. in doing this, students can benefit more than when the teacher only dominates everything without participating. not only can teachers give guidance if it is necessary, joining in students can also draw close the distance between them. the significance of teacher-student interaction is summarized by buber that the interaction between teachers and their students or between learners and the environment is aimed at building a relation between them; but also teachers present the world to their students and share their own insights with them. this presentation is not a transmission of certain items of knowledge but the expression of a voluntary responsibility towards the learners as well as a demonstration of true humility (shim 2008: 527).
;2.2 the teacher as promoter
;being a participant with students in the classroom learning is useful for creating a non-threatening and friendly learning environment. however, the teacher is required to do more in order to facilitate learning. another role of the teacher is the facilitator or promoter. a successful facilitator requires the teacher to be empathetic, warm, positive, and respectful to students. therefore, the teacher ought to help their students “clear away roadblocks, to find
shortcuts, to negotiate tough terrain” to make the learning
easier for them (brown 2001). it is teachers’ responsibility
to increase students’ confidence and motivate them to sustain effort to carry out learning, which is a long and effortful process.
;therefore, it is more important for the teacher to promote students’ motivation for learning. as both plato and freire demonstrate, teaching is based on the autonomous thinking of learners, which teachers should try to promote (shim 2008). the ability to autonomous studying and critical thinking is to large extent more important than the mastery of static knowledge.
;part 3 the teacher as cultural guide
;a prominent feature in the teaching of a foreign or second language is the encounter of a different culture in which the language implants. therefore, the teacher takes on the less directive and invisible role as cultural guide in the process of teaching. as an indispensible part of foreign language teaching, the cultivation of students’ proper attitude
toward different cultures is meaningful. this issue is especially important in china, where there is the new upsurge of english learning.
;it is almost inevitable that students’ views are influenced
by the teacher’s attitudes towards different cultures and different outlooks on the world. the task of the teacher is to foster students’ culture-awareness and cultural
sensitivity. teachers should pay attention to fostering the democratic attitude and open-mindedness of the students by demonstrating the true and objective side of the western world. the teacher can lead students to understand the diversity of different cultures and to appreciate the difference from various perspectives. the goal of culture teaching in foreign language teaching is to promote a deeper and overall grasp of the language. as a result, students can obtain a better
understanding of the western cultures, which is also beneficial for language learning.
;part 4 the teacher as learner
;teacher themselves are students. by referring teachers as learners, first it means that teachers will become more experienced and excellent in teaching by reflecting on the whole process of teaching and accepting teacher training. a most directive way to improve the competence of the teacher is the constant reflection of one’s teaching course. shim
(2008) pointed out that teachers should realize their own limitations, shortcomings, and flaws, and they should reflect, try to improve themselves, and consequently attain spiritual, moral, and consequently attain spiritual, moral, and esthetic growth. it is thus necessary for both novice and experienced teachers to reflect on their teaching in different periods of the career.
;then with the lifelong learning notion teachers should improve themselves both by teaching, studying and self-cultivation. for confucius, teaching is an important factor that contributes to self-cultivation. the teacher should update the store of knowledge continuously as charging