3 Questions about … Building Rapport with Your Students in ELT

 In Behaviour, Teacher Training

How do teachers develop a good rapport with their students?

Warm, easy, great, personal and instant are adjectives that collocate with ‘rapport’. How can teachers create these positive types of relationship with their students?  When you meet a new class, as well as being personable and putting students at ease, make sure you learn, remember and consistently use their names, and find out something about each of them.  In other words, try to show that you’re interested in them – as people, as well as learners. How can teachers maintain this affinity as a course progresses? Be empathetic: never laugh at students, but with them, show understanding of the difficulties they may experience, as well as offering judicious praise and feedback on their efforts and performance.  Be fair to everyone, ensure they work together in a spirit of collaboration, and provide a safe, healthy and supported learning environment.

Why is it important to build positive rapport with students?

Getting on well with a group of students can result in them being more motivated and inspired to learn English, it can have a knock-on effect on their self-confidence and self-esteem, it can help develop their creativity and ability to think critically.  Conversely, a teacher who is cold, distant and disinterested in his or her students can result in disengagement in learning, deterioration of progress and achievement, classroom behaviour issues poor attendance or desire to give up classes, as well as negative impact on the reputation of the teaching institute.

How can teachers assess their rapport with their students?

It’s important not to be complacent and assume we enjoy a good rapport with our classes, and that all our students are equally enamoured with us.  One was to assess this is by getting a teaching colleague to observe you teaching one of your classes.  This observation sheet was developed by teachers at International House schools in Portugal at the 2019 IH Portugal Training Day.


  1. Choose the aspects of rapport you wish to focus on in your observed lesson, a maximum of 10 would be a good idea.
  2. Circle the answer that you feel is true for you. Be honest! Do not show your answers to your observer.
  3. Give the observer a clean copy of this observation sheet. As they watch the lesson, they should make any relevant comments under each of the statements, with evidence from your lesson.  At the end of the lesson, they circle the option that they feel best fits what they observed.
  4. Arrange a time to meet to talk about the lesson, focussing on the rapport the observer witnessed and that you experienced. In this meeting, compare the two observation sheets, and discuss the reasons for convergence and differences.


Author – Diana England

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