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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: November 2012

8 - Vitalising the language class


The previous chapter focused on pedagogic aspects of language classes. It drew attention to the fact that language teachers behave in unique ways because they have developed personal repertoires of tried-andtested language teaching techniques and activities. It showed that experienced language teachers, attuned to the learning needs of their students, adjust their lessons in line with the ongoing feedback that they receive. It showed how both major deviations and minor digressions are key features of everyday classroom language teaching. The chapter ended by showing how the levels of enthusiasm and engagement of teachers and students in language classes are correlated, with each party able either to lift the performance or, conversely, to sap the energy of the other.

The present chapter continues to focus on the reciprocal relationship between the behaviour of language teachers and the collective behaviour of the students in their classes. It draws particular attention to the overall atmosphere of language classrooms, describing the ways in which both teachers and students vitalise the social atmospheres of their classes in ongoing ways. Section 8.1 describes the relationship between ready responsiveness on the part of students and the effectiveness of communicative tasks. Section 8.2 describes the key role that humour plays in the vitalisation of language classes. Section 8.3 qualifies the previous section by highlighting the danger of confusing fun with learning. In Section 8.4 the chapter describes some of the key ways in which language teachers engage the students in their classes at not only an intellectual but also an emotional level.