Emily Hudson

Words are important. Hopefully everyone who is reading this knows and agrees with this statement. Words hold meaning beyond their individual letters and can change a lot if used correctly. But what words are important for a teacher? And more importantly for people at EF, what words are important for an ESL teacher?

I have found that a number of words have helped me this year, both as a teacher but also as someone living in a foreign country. Which of these words is the most important, I cannot say. But what I do know is that these words hold a lot a power:

1. Yes

A rather obvious choice I will admit, but for good reason. The word yes is important is both professional and personal life. So much of life as a teacher at EF is about new opportunities and saying yes allows you to experience them. You say yes when you are offered the job and from there you have the chance to say yes to many more things. Yes is also very important when you are working. As an affirmation to questions asked, a positive confirmation of work being done correctly and one of the most fundamental words in the English language. This is a word that you will use with any age group multiple times and in multiple ways each lesson.

2. Hello

Perhaps the most obvious word on the list would be hello. The easiest way to greet someone, a word that people, even if they don't know English, will know, and a word that you will constantly use with students, colleagues and everyone around you. Though this word is important to everyone, whether they are an EF teacher or not, it warrants a place on this list, because when meeting as many new people as you do when moving to a new place, greetings are extremely important.

3. Why

A word which you may consider important, but not necessarily important enough to merit a spot on this list. However, why is one of the most important words you will use as an ESL teacher because it allows you to check understanding and expand student's language use. For the most part students will not give you an 8-minute speech when you ask them a question, but in simply asking why you provide an open-ended question where they must simply expand on their first answer. Why also allows you to learn about the new society you are living in. In using this simple word you can find out a multitude of things about where you are living and why people do certain things, certain laws are in place or even if something is culturally appropriate.

This admittedly short list is by no means exhaustive and there are hundreds of words that could have easily had a place. Words are important, especially if you are a teacher. The words that you use will be picked up, used and copied by students and so the way you use words becomes important. These three words will be used multiple times but that alone does not qualify them as the most important. But the frequency combined with their variety of uses and hopefully mostly positive use means that they have a special role in the life of an ESL teacher.

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