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Numer publikacji: 31701

Learners' opinions of the teachers' roles in the foreign language classroom


The aim of this work is to answer the question what are the opinions of the learners on the roles of the teacher during the foreign language lessons.
The theoretical part of the thesis consists of the three chapters that treat about different relevant issues concerning the topic. Initially, some historical facts are given and among them nine basic methods and approaches of teaching a foreign language are briefly described in order to show how the role of the teacher has been changing, from the teacher being in the centre of the teaching process until the time when it is the learners themselves who became the centre. This part of the thesis discusses also other aspects of foreign language teacher’s position. They are his professionalism, his role as a form teacher and his roles in reference to the age of the students. The fourth chapter is the description of my action research and the analysis of the questionnaires conducted among upper primary school learners, lower secondary school learners and teachers of those age groups on the opinions they have on the teacher’s roles in a foreign language classroom. Apart from the description of the results of the previously conducted research, several evaluation ideas, the description of preparation tasks, characteristics of the three research groups are also included.
This work ends with an evaluation and conclusions made on the findings as well as on the theoretical chapters.


In this chapter there will be discussed the problem of how the role of the teacher has been changing over the years, on the basis of the following methods and approaches: the Grammar-Translation method, the Direct Method, the Audiolingual Method, the Silent Way, the Total Physical Response, the Community Language Learning, the Natural Approach, Suggestopedia and Communicative Language Teaching.
The issue of changing roles of the language teachers is briefly discussed by Richards and Rodgers (1986). They analyze the roles in different approaches and methods that were used in the twentieth century in foreign language classrooms. As the methods and approaches have been changing so the roles of the teachers, learners and materials were treated variously. Different syllabus models, learning objectives, classroom procedures as well as techniques were used. Each method treated the teacher and his roles in a different way. In the past the teacher role in the learning process was a dominant one. Later there was more emphasis put on the learner roles. The study by Johnson and Paulston (1976, cited in Richards and Rodgers 1986: 23) indicates that roles of the learners in an individualized approach are as follows: planning their own learning programme and taking responsibility for their learning, monitoring and evaluating their own progress, becoming the members of the group and therefore interacting with others, tutoring other learners, learning from the teacher, from other learners in the classroom and from other sources. According to Curran (1976, cited in Richards and Rodgers 1986: 23) learner roles can be divided into five stages, from the stage when they are totally dependent on the teacher to the last stage when learners are completely independent. The researcher compared the stages to the life of a man from embryo through childhood and adolescence to adulthood. It is easily visible in the methods and approaches described below.
Popularity of modern languages started at the beginning of the sixteenth century, when they replaced Latin in spoken and written communication (Richards and Rodgers 1986: 1). Classical Latin became the model for foreign language study from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. It became a strict subject to be taught from primary school afterwards. Although there had been some unsuccessful attempts to introduce a different approach in a foreign language teaching, they did not become popular. Latin remained the most ideal form of a foreign language study because it was thought that it developed intellectual abilities. It resulted in the development of the Grammar–Translation method. Teachers used grammar rules extensively. The teaching process was based on translating enormous amounts of sentences from the native into the target language and the other way round. Richards and Rodgers (1986: 2) claim that ‘Speaking the foreign language was not the goal, and oral practice was limited to students reading aloud the sentences they had translated’. According to this, the basic way of teaching a foreign language in the nineteenth century was based on learning grammar. Even course books were organized around this approach.

[...] The goal of foreign language study is to learn a language in order to read its literature or in order to benefit from the mental discipline and intellectual development that result from foreign-language study. [...] Reading and writing are the major focus; little or no systematic attention is paid to speaking or listening (Stern 1983: 455; Howatt 1984: 131, referred to in Richards and Rodgers 1986: 3-4).

This was one of the first, early methods, and the teacher rather than the learner was in the focus of attention. Teacher’s tasks were strictly defined: to teach grammar rules, to practise translation of single utterances, reading passages and vocabulary.
Mid- and late nineteenth century brought some language teaching innovations. They reflected the need to communicate among Europeans, and increased demand to speak rather than to read only. This need of communication produced a number of approaches, most of them based on the observation of children’s way of acquiring of the first language. One of the first methods was the one by the Frenchman C. Marcel (1793-1896). He was a pioneer when it comes to using context in order to be understood correctly and focusing on speaking proficiency and an interest in how children learn languages.
But the most important change was brought by the Reform Movement. That was the time when the International Phonetics Association was founded in 1886 and then International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) was designed. The efforts of the methodologists were aimed more than before at the learner and his place in the centre of the learning process. The focus was on teaching the right pronunciation habits, the study of the spoken language, the use of conversation texts and conversational vocabulary as well as phrases. Learners were taught new meanings through finding associations with the target language, not with the mother tongue. This approach produced some principles used later in foreign language teaching, such as using meaningful contexts, avoiding translations and letting the students hear first and then see the written text (cf. Richards and Rodgers 1986: 7). Those changes gave rise to the Direct Method. Its founder, L. Sauveur (1826-1907) believed that a language can be taught without any translation and the use of the learner’s mother tongue. It was based on the natural interaction between the learner and the teacher. Gestures, demonstrations and action ought to elicit the meaning of the words. The emphasis put on the learner was easily visible that time. According to German scholar F. Franke (1884, cited in Richards and Rodgers 1986: 9)

[...] a language could best be taught by using it actively in the classroom. Rather than using analytical procedures that focus on explanation of grammar rules in classroom teaching, teachers must encourage direct and spontaneous use of the foreign language in the classroom.

The meaning of grammar decreased for spontaneous use of the foreign language. Its main aim was to achieve capability to conduct conversations, that is why it was sometimes called Conversational Method. As Komorowska adds, teacher uses natural sentences at a natural pace and situations, and the only thing that helps to understand his utterances is context and situation when the conversation takes place (2003: 21, translation mine). Books were no longer of such importance as they had been previously (reading of the literary texts, magazines or writing letters appeared only as an element of everyday life) and speaking with an emphasis on the correct pronunciation and listening comprehension became most important. During the conversation between the learner and the teacher it was advisable not to correct student’s mistakes because of the fact that this was the way of discouraging the learner to speak and, at the same time, achieving free and fluent utterances. This concentration on the learner, can be seen in contemporary Berlitz schools. Their founder advocated for such rules as: never imitate mistakes, make students speak much, never use the book, keep the pace of the student, speak naturally or do not be impatient (Titone 1968: 100-1, cited in Richards and Rodgers 1986: 10). This method both then and nowadays is suitable for private schools or learning the second language abroad (cf. Komorowska 2003: 21). In the Direct Method the role of the teacher is to focus on the right pronunciation habits and ability to speak correctly. The best situation is when the teacher is a native speaker. However, because of this fact, the method fails in the classroom conditions and does well only, as it was mentioned above, when private schools are concerned. It was the main reason why it stopped being used in noncommercial schools by the 1920s.
The situation changed again with the outbreak of the World War II. A new method, namely the Audiolingual Method became a dominant one until the late sixties of the twentieth century. This method, also known as Audiolingualism after Nelson Brooks who put the learners in the centre of the learning process as never before and enabled them to gain mastery of a foreign language effectively and efficiently. As Brown adds [...] the ALM enjoyed many years of popularity, and even to this day adaptations of the ALM are found in contemporary methodologies (2000: 23). It was derived from structural linguistics developed by American linguists and put emphasis on sounds and patterns of the language, its phonetics, phonology, morphology and syntax. Teaching materials, studying and analysing of modern languages as well as training teachers was crucial. The Audiolingual Method was said to be the fastest and the most efficient way of teaching soldiers in the second language. Its aim was to master four language skills in a certain sequence, from listening and speaking to reading and writing. As Komorowska claims, the learner needs to master appropriate language habits mechanically through multiple repetitions of the material, its memorizing and consolidating (Komorowska 2003: 22). It is done in the following way: the example of the sentence is given and repeatedly said by the teacher. Students are supposed to repeat it after him. This work brings best effects when it is done in a language laboratory. The next step of the Audiolingual Method is giving the students the stimulus, for instance the visual one such as a picture in order to give rise to the language reaction. After the student’s right language reaction comes the approval. Multiple repetitions are crucial in order to avoid language error and its consolidation. Error, as Komorowska points out, [...] is in audiolingual method a result of interferrence, that is to say, negative influence of the native language (2003: 22, translation mine). That is why, the first language of the learner is eliminated completely from the teaching process including the comparison of grammatical structures of both, the native and the foreign one. Learning a language needs to occur through analogy, repetitions and memorizing. Students are not encouraged to speak by themselves but are given a lot of stimuli so that they can repeat already known expressions and utterances. A CD player and a language laboratory help with learning by heart as well as role-playing. Audiolingualism was criticized because it treated learners as objects or passive participants of the process. In this method the learner could be compared to stimulus-response mechanism and his process of learning was seen as a direct result of repetitive practice. The teacher was in a central position. He was treated as a model to imitate by the learners. As a controller he controlled the language behaviour of the students. Moreover, his role was much more visible than in, for instance, communicative methods. The teacher provided language stimulus which gave rise to concrete language reaction. He set the pace, controlled and imposed certain structures and words, just as a conductor of the orchestra. For the Audiolingual Method using precisely prepared language material as well as forming teaching plans became crucial.
At the end of the 20th century some new methods and approaches have emerged. Among them were such ones as the Silent Way, the Total Physical Response, the Community Language Learning, the Natural Approach and Suggestopedia. In spite of having many differences, they all are characterized by having some common features. Their most important mutual feature is focusing on the learner, taking into account his way of learning, his security, interests as well as preferences. The methods and approaches listed above on one hand focus on what we learn and on the other one, on how we learn. They also claim that learning is more important than teaching. Moreover, they claim that we learn not only through the mind but also our body and emotions are involved in this process. They use psychological knowledge in order to decrease the learner’s stress and increase the effectiveness of his work. Those methods are often referred to as Humanistic or Nonlinguistic approaches.
The first unconventional method is the Silent Way worked out by Caleb Gattegno. It was developed in the 1960s. At the early beginning it was used to teach mathematics as well as reading in a native language. Later on, it became known as one of the methods of teaching a foreign one. Its aim is to teach through silence and thinking. Thus, as Norland and Pruett-Said say for much of the lesson, the teacher remains silent. Teaching is viewed as subordinate to learning (Norland and Pruett-Said 2006: 14). The task of the teacher in this method is increasing of the learners’ concentration. It is possible with the use of colourful, of different length Cuisenaire rods. In the Silent Way teacher’s role depends on two things: training and methodological interaction. This way, the content of learning is based on simple, easy to demonstrate words and sentences (cf. Komorowska 2003: 24). Students use vocabulary which is gradually expanded to approximately eight hundred words. Memorizing of new material is done in silence, which begins right after hearing of new words and phrases. The role of a demonstrator is finally taken over by students who begin from words well known to them and end up with completely new situations. The same as in the TPR method students learn without any coursebook. Apart from the Cuisenaire rods teachers use phonetical and vocabulary boards based on colour dependences. This method is used to teach adults during the first year of their learning but it is also very useful when it comes to self study. It fails in the classroom conditions because of the fact that students usually need and desire more input from the teacher (cf. Norland and Pruett-Said 2006: 14).
Another unconventional method is called the Total Physical Response (TPR). Its author, James Asher, formulated it in the 1960s and 1970s in the USA. He believed that

[...] learning new vocabulary in conjunction with corresponding motor activity would reinforce the learning of words and expressions – especially in children, but he also advocated its use with adults. Active participation also keeps students interested. [...] [T]he use of such commands would reduce anxiety levels and make use of the right brain (Norland and Pruett-Said 2006: 28).

This method is based on the assumption that the process of learning and memorizing of the new material is closely related with two different behaviours of the learners. The first one is listening to the teacher in silence and the second one is physical motion connected with the content of learning. Using this method in learning means giving students simple instructions in a foreign language and demonstrating in front of the whole class what students are required to do, in order to show the meaning of the sentences. The aim of such behaviour is to activate both brain hemispheres. The left one is responisble for language and speech and the right one – for physical movement. This method activates the whole brain and thanks to that the effectiveness of learning increases. What is interesting in the TPR is the fact that it does not use the coursebook at all. Books are replaced by various props which help to create such situations as a shop, a post office or a beach. When it comes to grammar, it is used in the instructions. Grammar structures are practised gradually, to begin with the most basic ones and end up with more complicated sentences. The Total Physical Response is appropriate for the beginners. Teachers often use it during the first and the second year of teaching a foreign language. Sometimes it is used with adults. It is also useful to activate students when they simply feel boredom.
Among unconventional methods there is also the Community Language Learning (CLL) also known as the Counselling Language Learning, which emerged in the 1970s in the USA as a result of positive experiences of the teachers with using of psycho-analytical and therapeutical techniques in teaching.

In this method, teachers are viewed more as counselors and are expected to facilitate language as opposed to teaching it. [...] [C]reating a humanistic learning community would lower students’ defenses and encourage open communication, thus allowing students to comprehend and absorb language more efficiently (Norland and Pruett-Said 2006: 12).

This method sees the roles of the teacher as psychological counselor whose attributes are warmth, sensitivity as well as acceptance. It is based on the assumption that the process of learning the language is connected with group, interpersonal communication and interaction. The second assumption is that communication can occur only when there is an issue which really needs to be discussed by people. That is why learning a foreign language in this method is similar to taking part in conversations in a therapeutical group. According to Komorowska [...] the ones speak who really want to say something, and they speak only about something, they really need to communicate to the others (2003: 25, translation mine). At the beginning they can communicate only in their mother tongue, but there is a teacher-translator, who translates utterances into the foreign language, records them and writes them down. Then, the learners can repeat them correctly. The teacher with the learners create a coursebook by themselves. This is students’ own decision what they are going to learn learn between the meetings. They are responsible for the proceed and the results of the learning process. The role of the teacher in the Community Language Learning is to give relevant information to the learners, create good conditions for learning, as well as to provide psychological and language support. As it was said before, this is the method that puts an emphasis on the responsibility of the learners for their own learning, its aims and content. This method is suitable only for the students with strong motivation and precise interests.
Another method which was also invented in the United States in the 1970s is called the Natural Approach. Its authors, Tracy Terrell and Steven Krashen believe that so called ‘meaningful array’ is crucial when it comes to learning the second language (cf. Komorowska 2003: 25). It means that students listen to sentences in a foreign language for a gist. The situation and context are factors which help them understand those utterances. As Komorowska (2003: 25) suggests this situation is similar to acquiring of a mother tongue by a child. Teacher, just as parent, waits until the learner is ready to say something on a voluntary basis. A teacher uses simple, natural language and talks about something that happens at the time of speaking. That is why it is easily understandable. Mime, gestures and multiple repetitions are also very useful. All of these activities are possible only when stress is completely eliminated. Learners cannot feel shame, dislike and any other negative emotions because these factors make a kind of a filter which prevents effective learning. It is believed that thanks to positive emotions, learning a foreign language becomes spontaneous and subconscious. Later on it becomes conscious. Because the learner is in the centre of the process of teaching, a teacher has two types of tasks here. First of all, he provides maximum amount of natural, interesting but at the same time simple and understandable input. His second task is to create an atmosphere of safety and acceptance. To gain such conditions, he avoids making students speak and correcting mistakes made by them but repeats correct words or phrases. A teacher conducts conversation trying to gain contact with the students. This method focuses on the relevance of listening competence as well as feeling safety. The Natural Approach is used when working with small children but also with shy adults, who had problems with learning the second language at school because of their shyness.
Suggestopedia, developed in the 1970s, was based on the assumption that human brain posseses huge reserves. Its author, Bulgarian psychologist Georgi Lozanow, claimed that these reserves can be used in the situation when a student feels safe and relaxed, and when all the negative emotions and stress do not exist. It is possible when a student acts a different character, chooses a new identity during foreign language classes. Lozanow [...] believed it is necessary to reach the students’ unconscious for the new language to be successfully absorbed (Norland and Pruett-Said 2006: 15). Moreover, when logical and analytical thinking are decreased, mechanisms of the right hemisphere come to the surface. In this method, student can trust competent and decisive teacher, just like a child can trust his parent. The effects are: being spontaneous and open-minded for new stimuli. Teachers take care of the classroom, appropriate equipment, right lighting and the feeling of intimacy. Students memorize the new material better thanks to music in the background. Baroque music increases capacity of students’ memory. Unlocking of the memory is possible thanks to meditation states, because when the learner feels totally relaxed, he can achieve maximum of his brain’s possibilities.

According to Lozanow, people are capable of learning much more than they give themselves credit for. Draving on insights from Soviet psychological research on extrasensory perception and from yoga, Lozanow created a method for learning that capitalized on relaxed states of mind for maximum retention of material (Brown 2000: 27).

A typical course lasts thirty days and consists of ten units (four hours a day through six days a week). Nowadays, Suggestopedia is well known and widely used especially in the United States and Canada as well as in some countries where German, as a first language, is used.
Still another method, which is neither conventional nor unconventional, is called Communicative Language Teaching. Some methodologists call it Communicative Language Learning (cf. Norland and Pruett-Said 2006) or communicative approach. This approach emerged in the mid 1970s but it became famous in the late 1980s. Nowadays this approach is the most widely used all around the world. It uses many conventional and unconventional techniques from other methods of teaching a foreign language. It does not put emphasis on mastering the whole language system but on ability to communicate in a second language efficiently. According to Norland and Pruett-Said:

In CLT, the goal of language teaching should not be translating and learning a set of rules but should be based on the goal of communicative competence. Communicative competence is most freequently defined as the ability to create meaning when interacting with others in the target language (Norland and Pruett-Said 2006: 18).

The above mentioned aim of learning, in other words, is gaining ability to communicate appropriately to a given situation style. To be able to do this, a learner needs to know and use grammatical structures but on the other hand he must be aware of the functions of certain utterances as well as their dependence on the context. Students need to use grammar but complete grammatical correctness is not required, if the act of communication is effective (adequate to the situation, the subject, age and status of the persons involved and their relations towards each other). Communication competence can be learnt through taking part in different communication situations. They need to be similar to everyday ones. Thus, the way of presenting of the new material is always situational and visual. The use of the native language is limited to the comments, explanations, but also for comparison. Lessons are organized around typical life situations. The techniques used are role-playing, plays, various games and discussions. It leads to use the foreign language naturally. Communicative Language Teaching puts emphasis on ability to use the second language in natural situations, by exchanging ideas, thoughts and wishes. Foreign language seen as a language system is not crucial and students are taught to communicate efficiently. Under those circumstances, the task of the teacher in this method is to be a manager who provides as many communicative situations as it is possible. He arranges the lessons but rarely takes part in the conversations. These are the students who talk to each other, usually divided into groups or pairs.
On the whole, the role of the teacher in different methods and approaches had been changing over the years. That is to say, once, the teacher was in the centre of teaching process. He was a central figure, a model to imitate. Later on, his position during the lesson has changed. He acted as a source of information, a helper and a competent person who creates appropriate atmosphere as well as conditions for learning. The learners and their needs are now in the centre of the teaching process. They became responsible for the proceed and the results of the learning process.


In this chapter the teacher’s roles at school will be briefly described. Among them such issues as teacher roles in general as an employee and his duties according to the school rules and documents that rule the school will be discussed. Moreover, teacher’s major roles as a class tutor and a foreign language teacher will also be covered. The last point taken into consideration will be the description of four stages of competence as well as different competences and professional knowledge of an English language teacher which make him a professional in his discipline.


Here I will concentrate on different rules and documents that are considered by teachers in their work. This is just obeying the rules, not only conducting a lesson, which is a main job of a language teacher at school. Apart from being constantly prepared to the lesson each person who starts his career at school is obliged to obey the rules given by the Ministry of National Education, for instance the Law on the Education System, the law on professional advancement or the law concerning achieving the right professional qualifications for teaching certain groups of students, and also other different rules as well as documents. Among them one can distinguish the Statute of a School with the School Grading System as a part of it, the Teacher’s Card or the Labour Code which is obligatory. Each teacher’s task is to obey the terms which are given in the schedule of the school year announced at the beginning of each one by the Ministry of National Education. Another significant documents there are also Educational and Preventive Programmes realized by school. Schedule of ceremonies and school events makes teachers prepare certain ceremonies and festivities. Moreover, the content of teaching programme needs to reflect teachers’ duties from the Annual Work Plan of the school and many other activities.
Taking into account the Law on the Education System (cf. Ustawa z dnia 7 września 1991r. o systemie oświaty), each teacher when beginning his work needs to be conscious of such issues as, for instance, the general rules concerning educational system, points considered when ruling the schools and educational care centres, the rules concerning assuming of the headmaster’s position and his duties, the way of acting of the Pedagogical Council, School Council, Students’ Government, etc. The teacher needs to know what information is there in the most important document for school - its Statue (cf. Statut Publicznej Szkoły Podstawowej nr 3 i Publicznego Gimnazjum nr 3 w Zespole Szkół Publicznych nr 3 im. Karola Wojtyły w Kobyłce). When it comes to this document, teacher role is to be aware of and use the rules which are included in it. For instance, he ought to know the basic information about the school that is to say, its name, institution which performs pedagogical oversight, school’s aim and pedagogical, educational, guardian and health tasks, organization of the school’s work, when it comes to taking care of the pupils who are mentally or physically disabled, information about school duty, rights and duties of students. In the school’s statue there is also information about its tradition and ceremonial. Apart from the above mentioned Statue of the School, teachers are required to obey the rules of giving grades for different subjects, grades concerning students’ behaviour and organising internal or external examinations. Those can be found in the Internal Grading System of the school where they have been teaching (cf. Statut Publicznej Szkoły Podstawowej nr 3 i Publicznego Gimnazjum nr 3 w Zespole Szkół Publicznych nr 3 im. Karola Wojtyły w Kobyłce). In Teacher’s Card one can find a piece of information that concerns duties and rights of teachers, rules due to rising personal qualifications, data about teacher’ practice, social services, height of compensation, amount of working hours per week as well as possibility of getting prizes or being penalized (cf. Ustawa z dnia 26 stycznia 1982 r. Karta Nauczyciela).


One of the roles of foreign language teachers at school is to broaden their knowledge of the subject they teach in order to be skilled. The proper formal education (cf. Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 17 kwietnia 2012 r. w sprawie szczegółowych kwalifikacji wymaganych od nauczycieli), is not enough. It is worth mentioning that it is usually not the end of education of the teacher who needs to gain more and more experience. This is the reason why he is advised to attend wide range of professional courses or methodological conferences. Each teacher needs to be a professional in his discipline, achieve a bachelor’s or a Master’s degree in it and carry on pedagogical practice. Courses in coping with stress, giving first aid, maintaining the work in the classroom, making the work more interesting for the learners, or dealing with parents as well as disabled children are very useful. Schools provide many of them during the Teachers’ Training Councils, which are compulsory just as participating in proceedings of the plenary as well as classification ones. Preparing materials to classification exams that are held at the end of the summer holidays and being present during them is also teachers’ task. They are obliged to conduct lessons. Teachers take part in the foreign language teachers’ teams work, and organize drama classes or foreign language contests at different levels. Finally, they are responsible for taking care of children during school celebrations, preparing these celebrations as well as school trips. Teachers of every kind perform duty during school breaks and take responsibility for safety of the learners of the school.


Here I am going to discuss the role of the teacher as a class tutor, which is closely related to bringing up students. This role is widely discussed by many methodologists. For example, according to the definition of upbringing presented by Kruszewski, it is (...) aimed at emotional changes, and, indirectly at recognition changes in a learner (Kruszewski 2012: 19, translation mine). Taking this definition into account, a tutor’s task is such work with the students that brings certain effects, for example, ability to operate of student’s own emotions as well as motivations consistent with orthodox norms and moral values. That is why, such behaviour as restraining the learner from aggression or keeping the word given are the effects of tutor’s work. Furthermore, he teaches the students open mindedness, tolerance as well as eagerness to cooperate with others.
Taking into account the previously mentioned suggestions, it is often alleged that being a class tutor is one of the most important roles of the teacher. He conducts special lessons during which he teaches them, for instance, savoir vivre, helps resolving difficult problems, explains necessity to obey the rules, informs about different dangers, teaches how to behave and tries to prevent various addictions. Among other important duties there are choosing the class government, encouraging students to take part in the school’s and class’ life, preparing of the schedule of class ceremonies or school trips and controlling the attendance systematically. In addition to this, there is also the need to fulfil the class register and many other important documents. The last point is the analyzis of the students’ learning progress.
Apart from the above mentioned duties, the tutor also tries to achieve certain relations between the students in the class. Szempruch is of the opinion that

The favourable culture of the school class is not the work of an accident. It is the effect of activity of a tutor and his deliberate planning as well as deliberate organization, management and inspiring of the students’ activeness and learning (Szempruch 2011: 167, translation mine).

To be honest, it is true. The tutor is a person who has the most powerful influence on students. Moreover, he is somebody whose (...) - both public and private life – sets a good example of his educational virtues (Konarzewski 2004: 160, translation mine). That is why, he can be imitatated by them. His actions enable recognition of the world and assimilation of knowledge. In addition to this, he encourages students’ own free enterprises and implements the students to act by themselves as well as to their creative activeness. He also takes care of the student’s physical and mental health.
One of his basic tasks is creating educational microsystem. Teacher’s duties according to his pupils is recognition of both, the whole class as the group, and each student separately, together with his domestic environment. It is crucial because of the fact that a tutor works mainly with the students and their problems as separate learners, and as a class. Mika defines a class as a situation (...) when two units have a relatively clear aim, mutual norms and have comparatively developed structure (Mika 1972: 172, translation mine). The tutor has influence and observes the dynamic class structure, in which one can see different powers such as various occurrences and group processes (cf. Cartwright 1971). It is advisable to understand the position of the students according to their peers, mutually celebrated standards and leadership. These processes occur as a result of interactions between individual students as well as between different smaller groups within the certain class. The tutor needs to be conscious of not only what kind of position is taken by each student but also relations between them. The system of these positions creates – as Mika writes (...) the system of positions which are in relations with each other (1985: 441, translation mine; cf. also Janowski 2002: 57).

A class tutor also takes part in developing of different forms of cooperation between him and other teachers as well as workers from the same school. This role gives him opportunity of cooperating with those adults. He acts as an extraordinary link between parents and students. Moreover, he enables communication between a parent, a child, a headmaster and other teachers. He takes part in the meetings with parents as well as in the school’s open days. Cooperation with the pedagogue and psychologist, other school workers, the headmaster of the school as well as his deputy is also one of his major tasks.


Here I will briefly discuss in some general terms characteristic competences of a language teacher. According to Werbińska (2004: 15), one ought to remember that teachers use different kinds of knowledge every day. Moreover, there are no two similar people who teach with the same amount of knowledge because of the fact that they differ in their age, teaching experience, sex, place of birth or living, religion, etc. The knowledge of an English teacher is rather complex because it is closely related to such disciplines as linguistics, psycholinguistics, psychology and pedagogy.
According to Howell (cf. 1982), one can distinguish four stages of competence or ‘conscious competence’ of the teacher’s knowledge (language competence, knowledge about the culture of a foreign country, knowledge about the language, methodological knowledge, pedagogical and psychological one) and his ability to teach learners. This learning model is related to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from the stage of incompetence to the stage of competence in every of the above mentioned skills. The stages suggest that the teacher is initially unaware of how little he knows, or how unconscious he is when it comes to his incompetence. The stages are, as follows: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and the last one – unconscious competence.
Howell describes the four stages like this:

Unconscious incompetence – this is the stage where you are not even aware that you do not have a particular competence. Conscious incompetence – this is when you know that you want to learn how to do something but you are incompetent at doing it. Conscious competence – this is when you can achieve this particular task but you are very conscious about everything you do. Unconscious competence – this is when you finally master it and you do not even think about what you have such as when you have learned to ride a bike very successfully (Howell 1982, 29-33).

When it comes to the first one, unconscious incompetence, happens when a teacher is unaware that he does not understand or know something, because of the fact that no such situations have arisen so far to demand his particular skill and alert him to the deficit. The teacher often knows that there is a skill lacking but still denies its usefulness. His task is to recognize his incompetence and the value of this new skill, before moving to the next stage. There is certain dependence concerning the length of time the teacher spends in this stage. It depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn. The teacher needs to experience an increase in motivation to add new skills to his repertoire.
The second stage, known as conscious incompetence, is a situation when the teacher becomes aware he does not understand or know something. He also begins to recognize the deficit is significant. Moreover, he becomes to think that it would be valuable to learn new skills in order to address the deficit and gain competence. At this stage, making mistakes is very frequent. It is understandable, because he needs to refine the skill through practice.
Conscious competence is when the teacher understands or knows something. He can demonstrate the skill or his knowledge to the learners but it requires a lot of concentration and effort. At this stage, it may need to be broken down into steps. One needs to mention that heavy conscious involvement is always required when we talk about executing the new skill. Here, mistakes are made rarely.
The last stage, unconscious competence, takes place when the teacher has had so much refining practice with a certain skill that he does not really need to hesitate when he wants to use it. We can say that it became his ‘second nature’ and can be performed with very low frequency of mistakes. The skill can be performed while executing another task, because it does not occupy much of the teacher’s conscious thoughts. At this stage, the teacher has become comfortable with this skill.
I would like to devote a few words to the competences as well as different kinds of knowledge which are used by teachers everyday during conducting lessons. The first kind of knowledge is known as linguistic one. It is the basis of the teacher’s competences and capabilities in the subject which he has been teaching. When it comes to a foreign language teacher this knowledge applies to high level of language knowledge and knowledge about the language itself; what in general is called the subject competence (cf. Werbińska 2004: 15). A foreign language teacher uses English in order to conduct lessons. It broadens the amount of a foreign language that is transmitted to students and thanks to regular repetitions makes positive influence on the students’ capability to understand the spoken language. A well educated teacher is able to combine such capabilities as reading and listening with speaking and writing easily.
Special attention ought to be drawn to cultural competence. According to Stern, it

[...] involves assimilation of norms, values as well as attitudes that create certain society, as well as capability to distinguish valuable cultural facts and the problem of what kind of behaviour is acceptable or not (Stern 1992: 83 referred to in Werbińska 2004: 17, translation mine).

In general, this competence leads to effective intercultural communication. The previously listed features make it be similar to the communicative one, which is possible to occur only when the user of a foreign language is conscious of different aspects of the language that he has been teaching. Among them, one can distinguish, for instance, the culture and society, using of the language registers, forms of approaching somebody, social and regional varieties of the language as well as social values.
Another part of linguistic knowledge of a foreign language teacher is the subject, which is his knowledge about the subject that he has been teaching and its theoretical base. It can be learnt during five years of studies, certain courses or postgraduate studies. Teacher’s knowledge about the subject ought to include: phonetics and phonology, syntax of a foreign language, aspects of its acquisition, ways of constructing a teaching programme, analysis of the discourse, sociolinguistics, analysis of the methods of teaching a foreign language and giving grades and evaluation issues. Additionally, a special jargon which is used by English teachers makes them members of a certain group. Moreover, using certain vocabulary helps them to give names to different aspects of their own teaching as well as develop conceptions of teaching a foreign language. Thanks to this, the position of a language teacher becomes more prestigious. It is obvious that knowledge gained after studies becomes unsatisfactory after several years of teaching at school and requires constant development. If it is discontinued, then a teacher becomes an incompetent one, described by Harmer with these words:

[...] [I]ncompetent teacher is not the person who admits that he does not know anything occasionally, but the one who ‘does not know what is it, and is not eager to ask anybody who knows, is afraid of asking somebody who knows, is concerned that he knows everything and has no doubts, he does not want to develop’ (Harmer 1994: 26 referred to in Werbińska 2004: 18, translation mine).

Another kind of knowledge required when it comes to teaching a foreign language is called methodological one. These are capabilities of teaching a certain subject through choosing adequate teaching theories. Among them we can distinguish didactic teaching (teaching with the use of presentations, demonstrations and explanations), discovery teaching (teaching through doing experiments and discovering new facts by students), interactive teaching (with preserving interactions between students’ opinions, empirical observations as well as the teaching content). Apart from these, methodological knowledge requires capability to teach, ability to be prepared properly, to use additional teaching materials, organise pair and group work and use of different techniques and methods.
An English teacher ought to posess psychological knowledge as well, as it is useful not only when it comes to teaching a foreign language. There is a belief about a positive attitude of the teacher towards the learner. It is the ability of effective communication with the learners, especially useful and required when it comes to being a class tutor. Friendly attitude towards students involves authenticity, (...) respect of others, optimism and frequent praises (Werbińska 2004: 20, translation mine). This kind of knowledge brings ability to escape reasons which can lead to the appearance of disturbances in the process of communication with the learners. It also helps with motivating them to work, constructing of harmonious group of students or ability to control levels of stress.
Each teacher should also possess some pedagogical knowledge, which means to be able to plan lessons, their aims, individual exercises, asking questions, monitoring the process of learning or checking students’ understanding. This kind of knowledge also helps to cooperate with other teachers and strenghten teacher’s ability to perform oversight of his class.

One can also distinguish some other kinds of knowledge. For instance, normative knowledge which includes two others: interactive and causative one. On the one hand, they help with supervising and evaluating students’ knowledge during the lesson. On the other one, these kinds of knowledge help obtain desired effects of the processes of teaching and learning.
According to Werbińska (2004: 15-27) these eight different kinds of knowledge contribute towards the roles played by teachers at school. Working with adolescents and young children as well as cooperation with their parents, resolving all sorts and kinds of problems and dealing with difficult situations may be helped by any of those kinds of knowledge. Thanks to them, a teacher can be considered a competent and well oriented person


In this chapter different issues reffering to teacher’s roles in the foreign language classroom will be briefly described. At first, several relevant roles which are played by teachers while teaching different age groups of learners will be presented. Secondly, key issues concerning characteristic features and teaching the youngest group of learners, students of primary school as well as adolescents will be described in detail. The last part of this chapter will be devoted to some common mistakes made by teachers when conducting a lesson.
The teacher as a person who directs in the classroom is responsible for many various tasks. This is the reason why he has to take different roles during the classes. Some of them are connected with maintaining discipline and others with the processes of teaching and learning (Scrivener 2005: 17). For example, the role of the teacher in a model of school based on cooperation is to use the following strategies: introducing the aims of the lesson clearly, defining the field of science, dividing the class into smaller groups before the lesson starts (according to Kupisiewicz it has beneficial impact on the results of the students’ work; 1996: 199), supervising work in groups, helping during the lesson, answering students’ questions, advancing the skills of group or pair work and assessment of students’ achievements.
There are many roles of teachers discussed by different methodologists. For example, Scrivener (2005: 25-26) describes three kinds of teacher: the explainer, the involver and the enabler. Harden, Crosby add to the list more roles, such as the information provider in the lecture, the role model on-the-job, the mentor and the learning facilitator, the student assessor and the curriculum evaluator, the curriculum and course planner as well as the resource material creator and the study guide producer (Harden and Crosby 2000: 334-347). Brown (2000: 200) lists some others, for instance: an authority figure, a leader, a knower, a director, a manager, a guide, a friend and a parent. According to Harmer (2001: 57-63), there are such roles as the controller, the prompter, the participant, the resource (‘a walking dictionary’, ‘a walking resource centre’), the tutor, the organiser, the performer, the assessor, the observer and the investigator. These roles may change during each lesson several times. Komorowska (2003: 80) calls the roles of the teachers as sets of tasks. It means that every teacher meets many different and difficult demands. The teacher needs to be flexible depending on the activities taking place in the class.

The role that we take on is dependent [...] on what it is we wish the students to achieve. Where some activities are difficult to organise without the teacher acting as controller, others have no chance of success unless we take a less domineering role (Harmer 2001: 63).

The arrangement of those roles has been different in different methods and approaches.

The controller
In teacher – centered approaches the main role was that of a controller of the teaching process. He takes control over the student’s task. The most frequent example is a language drill. In this exercise students must repeat after the teacher the structure which is being taught automatically. Additionally, the teacher can read a reading passage out loud in order to focus students’ attention on it. The teacher’s task is also to restore discipline in the classroom, to give certain instructions or ask questions. It means that the teacher’s role as a controller gives him the opportunity to rule in the classroom and act in a way he proposes. The teacher is in charge of the whole class as well as the activities that are taking place in the classroom. Harmer (2001: 58), draws attention to the fact that the teaching process becomes a teacher-fronted one. This role has certain advantages, such as encouraging the whole class into work, being involved in his work, maintaining discipline, introducing the material such as pictures, reading passages, listening exercises or DVD recordings. It also strenghten the sense of membership between students. This kind of teacher’s role has also some disadvantages. For instance, as Harmer (2001: 58) points out, it causes lack of individual speech because the class acts as a whole group. Students may feel shy or overawed by the atmosphere in the classroom when they act in front of the whole class. What is more, the learning process cannot be experimental and there is no variety in activities provided. All the students need to do the same activities at the same time and pace.

The organizer
In learner – centered approaches the main role of the teacher is that of the organizer. It, however, does not mean that the role of a controller disappears completely. It is present in making announcements, keeping order or outlining demands. As the name indicates this role appears when there is a need to organize the activities. It consists in explaining what and how to do, of giving rules of certain activities, dividing the class into pairs or bigger groups, giving crucial information, telling about the time limits, explaining the purpose of a new activity. It also concerns the situation at the beginning of tests when explanations are important to fulfill the tasks correctly. The role of the organiser is also vital at the end of the lesson when there is some time for fast finnishers, for feedback or summarising comments. Harmer (2001: 59) summarizes the role of organiser by suggesting its four main tasks in a certain order, which is to engage, to instruct (demonstrate), to initiate and to organise feedback.

The other roles mentioned at the beginning of the chapter appear in both approaches: teacher – centered and learner – centered ones, but in various degrees and intensities. Below I am going to discuss them in some detail.

The assessor
When the teacher acts as the assessor, he gives students feedback concerning their capabilities as well as progress. He rewards the correctness and corrects mistakes. The student must be conscious of what is he expected to do, for instance a certain level of fluency, accuracy or punctuation, as well as grading criteria. Another important thing of this role is to be fair in case of giving grades, treating everyone equally, giving credits when students do well and offer constructive criticism in case of poor performance. Taking into account the role of the assessor, the problem which the teacher may face is fairness of the given grade and criticism. He needs to be sensible when it comes to the potential student’s reaction.

The prompter
Another role played by teachers is being a prompter. This role is based on helping students, especially when they lack words or expressions during classes. Prompting ought to be done in a sensitive and encouraging way to allow students to take advantage from the activity. The teacher needs to be discrete in order not to take the initiative and not to be too tiring because it could be bad for both, the teacher and the student.

The participant
A participant involves himself in the activity together with the students, for instance, in a discussion. As Harmer (2001: 61) suggests, [...] students enjoy having the teacher with them, and for the teacher, participating is often more instantly enjoyable than acting as a resource. However, the teacher needs to remember not to dominate the discussion because he is usually given more attention than the peers. Lewis is of the same opinion (1993: 188), and says that The art of successful teaching is to intervene, without interfering. Later on he adds Teachers have only been really successful when they have made themselves redundant (1993: 188).

A resource
During some activities students need the teacher as a resource. For instance, when writing they can ask for the translation of a certain word, its meaning or spelling. When doing a project, they may ask for the source of information. The most important thing is to remember that the teacher is not an encyclopedia in English or the source of information about the whole world. In this role his main task is to guide the students to where they can search for the information they need, for instance, direct them to what dictionary or which Internet site to use. The aim is not to let the students become over-reliant on the teacher.

The tutor
The role of the tutor is especially useful when students work on bigger writing projects or prepare for a talk. This role requires helping students to take the right direction in their work. A tutor can guide an individual student or the whole group. He is helpful and avoids impeding the learner’s autonomy. The tutor’s advantage is enabling contact with every student what has influence over his motivation, self-assessment and self-esteem.

An observer
Additionally, the teacher can play the role of an observer. It is useful especially in oral communicative activities to make notes and later give feedback to students. Harmer (2001: 62) says: We need to be able to work and observe simultaneously, listening, watching, and absorbing so that we can create the best kind of rapport between ourselves and our students. The role of an observer also helps to draw conclusions for the future.

Another problem discussed in reference to teachers’ roles is that of teachers as actors or performers standing in front of the classroom and conducting lessons. When they enter the classroom they begin to act and to put on a show just like performers do. Each teacher performs in a different way. As Harmer points out

Not only that, but any one teacher probably also has many different performance styles depending on the situation. One minute we may be standing at the front commanding or entertaining, but a few minutes later we will be working quietly with a pair while the other students are working with their own pairs (2001: 64).

Still another problem is the teacher as a teaching aid, with the use of mime, gesture and facial expression. This role is also extremely important, although nowadays students may use many other sources of English which may act as language models. However, for many of them it is the teacher who performs this role. Everything that a teacher says, every animation he makes, every enthusiasm he puts into his work is somehow recorded and remembered by students. That is why it is important to use natural rythm of speaking and normal intonation patterns when, for example, reading the lines aloud or talking to the learners.
The teacher is also the main source of comprehensible input. It is impossible for a teacher not to talk during the lesson at all. But, on the other hand, there must be preserved some balance between student-talking time (STT) and teacher-talking time (TTT). As Harmer suggests (2001: 66), students need more time for talking and practice than the teachers. Alternatively, teacher’s speech is good for students if it is [...] slightly above their own production level (Krashen 1985, cited in Harmer 2001: 66).
It is worth mentioning that many teachers while performing different roles in the classroom make a lot of mistakes. This happens sometimes unconsciously because the teacher is not prepared properly, does not have the right methodological background, etc. For instance, a young teacher may lack experience or may be deliberately tested by the students. Besides, teachers may present many unproductive attitudes, which may slow the teaching process. Among them there are several mentioned by Lewis, for instance:

[...] over correction, over eagerness to pressurise students into speaking too early, too fast a pace, the urge to ‘finnish’ something before the end of the lesson or a term, emphasis on what students do not know or cannot do [...] (Lewis 1993: 189).

According to Taraszkiewicz (2005: 80-81) we can distinguish eight different syndromes resulting from characteristic teacher’s behaviour mistakes. The first one is called ‘a guardian of the secret knowledge’ syndrome. It consolidates the belief that the learning process is something very difficult and requires a lot of hard work from the learner. The reason of using such a strategy is building so called authority among the learners at school. Moreover, teacher uses scientific jargon while teaching not taking into account cognitive and perceptual abilities of the learners.
The second and the most frequent mistake is associated with the habit of focusing on mistakes made by students. In ‘a mistakes trailer’ syndrome the teacher requires full readiness from the learners to answer his questions in an expected form. Such a teacher does not understand that the learner can be unprepared, needs to make trials and mistakes while learning. This kind of behaviour brings some disadvantages. Teacher’s actions prevent the process of learning at the very beginning. This syndrome is characterized by deficiency of positive reinforcements. It is almost impossible for the right way of teaching and learning to begin and exist. Students are afraid of taking on new tasks as well as bearing possible defeats.
The third syndrome ‘of projector’ is imposing teacher’s personal preferences on the subjects and methodology of learning. In this kind of teaching a teacher seems to teach himself only because of respecting only his own preferences. Only clever, being able to keep up with the way of the teacher’s way of thinking students can learn. Others are almost forgotten.
Another syndrome is called the syndrome of ‘a bulldozer’ of problems due to their wrong location. Teachers want students to be responsible for the effects of learning and parents to be responsible for the behaviour of their children. Additionally, there are circumstances which may be said to be responsible for teacher’s mistakes. In this way problems are not resolved but grown.
Another syndrome is called the one of ‘a poor gardener’. The essence of this mistake is the lack of responsibility for the effects of the process of learning as well as pedagogical nonchalance. The teacher allows the students to learn according to their own capabilities. He does not influence the proces of learning or does not try to change anything. His task is to take care of their development, to teach giving the right amount of knowledge and to be patient.
In the syndrome of ‘an evaluator’ the teacher gives marks and evaluates the student’s knowledge and his possible achievements in the future. This situation is nowhere near the essence of the process of learning and the role of school which is to learn not to evaluate. Learners ought to be given feedback of two kinds. Firstly, on what they do in the right way and secondly, what is the area that needs to be improved. Due to this, it is not important what grades the students are given but the amount of knowledge that they gain. The next step is selfevaluation and being responsible for the effects of learning.
The last but one syndrome is the one of ‘a master of the world’, and it concerns all the teachers who think that they already know everything and that there is nothing more necessary for them to learn. Adoption of such an attitude results in disappearance of professional sensitivity. Thanks to this it is easy to distinguish a good teacher who is always ready to learn and expand his own knowledge.
The last syndrome of ‘a blindman’ concerns all the teachers who fail to perceive themselves in any of the syndromes described above.


Learner’s age is a major factor influencing the organization of the teaching process. Depending on what age group is taught a different approach may be applied. People of different ages (Harmer 2001: 37) have different needs, competences, and cognitive skills. Therefore, it is important to know as much as possible about the capabilities, emotional reactions, and interests of the learners in order to adjust the behaviour to them.
In this section I am going to concentrate on the young learners under the age of 9. Those children are taught English as an obligatory foreign language in Polish schools (cf. Siek-Piskozub 2009: 9). As many methodologists claim, courses for children are special.

Children learn in a different way than the older students, they also need to be taught differently. The contact with a foreign language ought to be received as a fascinated adventure, which they are eager to participate in. All forms, especially correlated with movement, such as songs, rhymes, plays, language and physical games, fairy tales, during which one can use drawings or mascots, are the most effective forms of learning for a child (Siek-Piskozub 2009: 10, translation mine).

Harmer (2001: 38) also claims that children learn differently from teenagers as well as adults, because they spontaniously respond to the meaning of the words. Secondly, young children learn in an indirect way, what means they learn from everything that surrounds them. Their understanding comes not just from explanation, but also from what they see and hear and, crucially, have a chance to touch and interact with (Harmer 2001: 38). The teacher’s task is to create good learning conditions in order to help students to take part in the learning process. He needs to have in mind that children are enthusiastic, curious and imaginative. They need a lot of attention and approval from the teacher and he ought to devote them a lot of time. These learners can easily be called discoverers and the teacher a researcher or an explorer helping them discover the world in English.
Komorowska adds to this characteristics that [...] developmental features of young learners are determining the concept of teaching and methods of teaching very strongly (2003: 29, translation mine). The teacher may provide appropriate amount of listening tasks because of the fact that young learners are characterized by the need of listening rather than writing or reading because they cannot read and write properly yet. That is why, the teacher needs to know that learning of a foreign language is mainly based on intuitive repetitions of the spoken language and matching the words to the pictures. As Siek-Piskozub (2009: 11) states, children are still open-minded, they are open for diversity. The teacher’s task here is to amplify emotional-recognitable states which are beneficial for the development of the child’s communication competence. Last, but not least important thing is the fact that children cannot work independently and cannot focus their attention for a longer time. This problem is described, for instance, by Penny Ur

Teachers commonly notice that they cannot get children to concentrate on certain learning activities as long as they can get adults to do so. However, the problem is not the concentration span itself – children will spend hours absorbed in activities that really interest them – but rather the ability of the individual to preserve with something of no immediate intrinsic interest to them (Ur 1996: 288).

As a consequence, the teacher’s roles constantly change. Once he is ‘an organiser’ of various activities, another time he is ‘a controller’ of the work as well as ‘a prompter’. Ur also adds that the teacher needs to raise children’s enthusiasm by selecting interesting activities during the lesson. He needs to encourage them to take part in various activities and always assist them in their work because young learners constantly need the supervision of the teacher. To put it in another way, from time to time he acts as ‘a prompter’ but still, being ‘a participant’ of all the activities, is here his major task. It is recommended to teach this group of learners to listen to the foreign language through listening to the stories, fairy tales, songs, audio cassettes and video ones, as this is also the way of learning the mother tongue (cf. Krzemińska 2009: 23-24). When it comes to teaching speaking, a teacher can use only simple, basic utterances and repetable songs and rhymes. Reading passages should not be used here as well as using notebooks and learning to write. The only thing appropriate when teaching writing is drawing and signing the drawings. When teaching such young group of learners, the most important is how the teacher teaches, not the effect of teaching. The aim of the language course is to build the motivation to learn this language in the future, as well as to teach basic vocabulary and practise listening comprehension.

Harmer concludes,

Good teachers at this level need to provide a rich diet of learning experiences which encourages their students to get information from variety of sources. They need to work with their students individually and in groups developing good relationships. They need to plan a range of activities for a given time period, and be flexible enough to move on to the next exercise when they see their students getting bored (2001: 38).

All these activities in the classroom can take place when teachers are conscious of the above features. Children are characterized by concrete thinking and mechanical memory. They do not have abstract thinking or logical memory yet. That is why the role of the teacher is to connect the teaching process with the particular things and situations (names of certain objects and people, simple instructions and phrases). He needs to use objects or concepts which are within the child’s reach. At this stage teaching grammar is not recommended. Additionally, teacher’s task is to teach through short, attractive, various repetitions (easy songs, poems or rhymes). Saying again and again the correct words or phrases helps to remember them. To catch children’s attention the teacher ought to change tasks and methods he uses quite often. It is good to use stimuli such as a picture, the sound and movement because they can forget everything they have already learnt very quickly although they are able to learn fast. They pay attention to a certain subject only for a short time. Moreover, the teacher needs to be prepared for these classes. Having some useful props is very important, for example, toys, cards, finger puppets or colourful pictures and posters. The puppet can be used as a mediator which has got a very important role to fulfil, it is the only creature that does not know Polish and understands only English and it is used only when it hears English (cf. Chauvel, Champagne & Chauvel 2005: 14-15). Although foreign language classes ought to be conducted in English, the teacher needs to explain rules of certain plays, requests, instructions or language observations in a mother tongue.
Another thing that is recommended for teaching a foreign language to young learners is movement, gimnastics or elements of J. Asher’s Total Physical Response method in which students are given orders and need to react in an appropriate way (cf. Gładysz 2009: 89-91). Children are characterized by the need to play and have physical activeness. They need to be taught through painting, colouring pictures, gluing, activities with stickers, cutting out objects and games based on movement.
It is also recommended that children should not be forced to speak. Teacher’s role is to be extremely patient and wait until the learner is ready to speak. Teacher task is to encourage them to speak rather than force them. Often learners feel safe when they are able to repeat together with their classmates. Moreover, together with the teacher, who acts as a participant, and takes part in the activity. The teacher needs to remember that approval is a good way to encourage learners to speak.
To sum it up, the teacher of young learners of the age under 9 needs to be very patient, nice and sensitive. Moreover, he needs to have imagination that will help with changing certain steps of the lesson when it is essential, for instance, when he receives a signal of boredom. His role is to be nice, encouraging and warm-hearted childminder teacher with whom children feel safe. Moreover, he ought to understand them because their emotional reactions are spontaneous and much more stronger than the intellectual ones. Learning the second language ought to be interesting and nice especially at this stage. Teachers’ aim is not to discourage those young learners from learning.


This group of learners embraces adolescents at the age of 13 – 15. There are various opinions on these groups of learners. Some methodologists consider those groups the best students of all. For example, Penny Ur (1996: 286) says: [...] probably teenagers are overall the best learners, but she also adds that:

For inexperienced teachers, classes of adolescents are perhaps the most daunting challenge. Their learning potential is greater than that of young children [...], but they may be considerably more difficult to motivate and manage, and it takes longer to build up trusting relationships (Ur 1996: 290).

Some others, like Puchta and Schratz add that they seem to be rather less humorous and lively than adults. At the same time, they are less motivated and [...] present outright discipline problems (Puchta, Schratz 1993: 1, cited in Harmer 2001: 38-39).
Harmer (2001: 39) claims that the reason of this state is searching for individual identity which is the challenge for teenagers. So, when a young child searches for the attention of the teacher, the teenager needs rather peer’s approval than the supervisor’s presence. But according to Harmer, it is not impossible to achieve good results in teaching and class management with this group of learners, because they

[...] have great capacity to learn, a great potential for creativity, and a passionate commitment to things which interest them. [...] Our job, therefore, must be to provoke student engagement with material which is relevant and involving. At the same time we need to do what we can to bolster our students’ self-esteem, and be conscious, always, of their need for identity (2001: 39).

With these age groups possibilities of choosing the aims of teaching are much wider and the process of teaching and learning can be realized at different levels. Listening and learning of basic vocabulary are no longer the main targets. Actually, all four skills (speaking, writing, listening and using grammar) are taught in similar proportions, but it depends on the teacher, curriculum, type of school, capabilities of the learners and the language course which of those get priority. It is possible because groups of older children aged 13-15 are characterized by abstract thinking and logical memory. Additionally, the teacher ought to have in mind that older teenagers are intelectually mature. This is the time when systematic teaching of a foreign language is generally introduced. Teenagers usually are motivated to learn the second language and it is important to teach them the skills of a living language. The teacher may encourage them to get to know and visit other countries as well as communicate via the Internet with online friends. Moreover, a possibility to get a better job in the future makes the learners eager to learn speaking, understanding a spoken language and interactive skills such as matching speaking with listening. This is the reason why communicative competence is something that is aimed at. According to Komorowska (2003: 30), gaining socio-cultural competence gives students a chance to understand other cultures better, be more tolerant towards cultural diversity all over the world and build the basis for being open to them. Reading and writing are not of such importance. Thanks to a strategic competence a student will be able to show misunderstanding, ask for repetition or explanation. The teacher does not need to be as much a participant as he was when younger learners were concerned. But, he is still a prompter and controller of their work.
Teacher’s task is to choose suitable materials (methods of teaching, topics, reading passages, vocabulary) that match the needs and interests of the learners, especially when some of the learners consider the content of learning boring or uninteresting. The same point is presented by Harmer, who claims that Students must be encouraged to respond to texts and situations with their own thoughts and experience, rather than just by answering questions and doing abstract learning activities (2001: 39).
Working with those groups of learners gives opportunity to teach grammar rules, check grammatical correctness of the student’s speech, introduce new, more sophisticated vocabulary connected with more difficult subjects. Teacher acts as an assessor who can correct students’ mistakes and give them feedback. Teaching more difficult material is possible because the periods of concentration of attention are getting longer and student’s memory is not as short and weak as in comparison with younger learners. Some exercises can be practised without the necessity to repeat the material constantly. Wide range of opportunities is given to the teachers when it comes to using reading passages or writing activities. The teacher may act here as a resource or ‘a walking dictionary’ but he can use a coursebook during every lesson. At this stage students write down the grammar rules (even in a form of dictation), rewrite important examples from the blackboard, make notes, make lists of new vocabulary in their notebooks. What is more, some of the student’s work can be done independently at home, so the process of learning can be lengthen and at the same time more efficient.
Komorowska (2003: 34-35) claims that such a change from a child to an older learner is done gradually because the developmental process is slow and does not occur at the same time, in the same pace in every student. Teacher’s task is to encourage learners especially when they are physically and mentally tired. He needs to support their attention through using shorter and more varied language activities. Students aged 13-15 still need a stimulus and appropriate input strenghtening attention like films, dramas, poems or songs. Besides this, they need his assistance, so he can act as a paricipant and a prompter. Learners undertake their first trials of independent speech, so making nice, full of understanding atmosphere in the classroom is also very important. Here, the role of a tutor is essential. That is to say, the teacher ought to be a competent, honest and fair tutor. The teaching content ought to be suitable for the interests of the learners and not too infantile because then, it could be treated as too childish and easy. On the other hand, the right amount of the teaching content or activities need to be given in order to avoid the lessons to be treated as boring ones (cf. Komorowska 2003: 35). Moreover, Harmer (2001: 39) advocates addressing learning issues directly, discussing abstract problems, provoking intellectual activities, being aware of contrasting concepts still with the teacher’s guidance.
Finally, it is worth mentioning three problems connected with this group of learners. First of all, teenagers often disagree with their tutors, teachers and even parents. They feel a dislike to everything that they consider connected with school. It is the feature of their stage of development and being still immature. As Harmer (2001: 37) points out, there are some beliefs, that [...] adolescents are unmotivated, surly, an uncooperative and that therefore they make poor language learners. Because of this reason, it is good to allow them to use the topics that are interesting for them, for instance, during discussion, when they say aloud their opinions freely and share them with the other classmates. When it all happens in a foreign language, when students are in charge, the teaching and learning processes occur. Secondly, there is a strong pressure of the peer group, what leads to the feeling of uncertanity and shyness when expressing student’s own opinions. The effect is trying to fit to the opinion of the whole class. One thing that helps in this situation is using pair work and pair conversations rather than in front of the whole class and practising short written forms. The last problem, which has a strong impact on the teaching and learning processes and ruling in the classroom is teenagers’ strong need to be noticed by other mates. It undoubtedly leads to inappropriate behaviour. Although a teacher needs to be a good organizer of his work in the classroom, he needs to use some rules that help with classroom management as well as dealing with this undesirable behaviours. Addressing requests and approaching learners individually, paying more attention to such learners can restrict negative behaviour.
Summing up, there are many teacher’s roles, but they all depend on the the students’ age because the age is connected with their specific behaviour. In other words, the roles played by teachers differ when we consider children under 9, and adolescents at the age of 13 to 15. But still, there are many stages of the lesson which are quite similar.


This chapter is devoted to the description of the action research on the roles of the teachers and the opinions of the learners on which of the roles are the most important in the foreign language classroom. The aim of the action research is briefly described as well as preparation tasks which took time in advance. Another point that is discussed is the methodology of the research, its results and evaluation.


The aim of this research was to find out what are the opinions of the learners on the teachers’ roles in the foreign language classroom. Thus, my initial assumption was that those opinions vary depending on the age of the learners and the size of the place they come from. The research was conducted in different grades, in order to see the variety of differences between the learners’ opinions. A subsidiary fact seems to be opinions of the teachers of foreign languages themselves about the roles which they play during language classes, and those were also investigated. My initial hypothesis was that those opinions vary depending on the age of the learners and the experience of the teachers.


4.2.1. Participants

The target group included learners and teachers of upper primary school from the 4th to the 6th grade and lower secondary school students and teachers from the 1st to the 3rd grade. Those were students and teachers from two different schools: Zespol Szkol Publicznych named Karol Wojtyla in Kobylka which from now on will be referred to as school I, and Zespol Szkol Publicznych named Orzeł Biały in Ostrowek, from now on referred to as school II. In the research there took part 68 students from school I and 40 students from school II.

4.2.2. Learners

The groups under investigation were the following:
1. 68 students from school I (25 students of upper primary school of the 6th grade [classes divided into two groups: 12 learners attended basic level classes; 13 learners attended advanced level ones], 22 students of lower secondary school of the 1st grade [11 basic group, 11 advanced one] and 21 students of lower secondary one, 2nd grade [9 students from advanced level group and 12 students from basic level one]). All the students had 3 lessons of a foreign language per week. School I is situated about twenty kilometers from Warsaw. English is taught there from the 1st to the 6th grade of upper primary school and English and German from the 1st to the 3rd grade of lower secondary one. There are 70 teachers altogether in this school, including 7 teachers of English and 2 teachers of German. There are over 700 students in school I.
2. 40 students from school II (13 students of upper primary school [all from advanced level group] and 27 students of lower secondary one, 3rd grade [15 students from the basic level group only]). All the students had 3 lessons of a foreign language per week. School II is located in a small town about 70 kilometers from the capital city of Poland. English is taught there in upper primary school, from the 4th till the 6th grade and in lower secondary one, from 1st to 3rd grade. There are 288 students and 42 teachers. Among them, there are 4 teachers of English.

Altogether 108 participants were asked to fill in the questionnaire. There was a different one for the teachers and a different one for the students.

4.2.3. Teachers

As for the teachers’ group, there were 7 teachers who gave their opinion in the survey.
a) 5 of them from school I (including 3 teachers of English and 2 teachers of German);
b) 2 English teachers from school II.
All of them gained proper formal education, but their experience at work differed. Among them there were people who had been teaching from 2 to 25 years, so their opinions could differ according to their work experience. As the number was rather small, their opinions are viewed only as supportive materials.

4.2.4. Research instruments

As I have said earlier, the instrument of this research was a questionnaire. There were two different questionnaires prepared - one for students and another one for teachers. Both of them were in Polish. There were some very important reasons to do so. First of all, it was assumed that some of the learners of primary school simply could not understand the questions. It was much easier for them to read and answer the questions in their mother tongue. Secondly, the questionnaire was held not only among the teachers of English but also German teachers. It was possible that not all of them knew English at comparable level. Both questionnaires were divided into two parts. The first one took into consideration general information and the second part questions about surveyed’ opinions on different issues connected with teachers as well as teaching a foreign language. Both questionnaires were anonymous.
Taking into consideration the questionnaire administered to students, its first part focused on the general information, such as the name of the school which they attend, their grade, the level of the group advancement and the amount of the learners in the group. They were also asked about how many hours of a foreign language they have per week. The last question concerned sources of their knowledge of English. They were asked to indicate maximum three sources from the given list:
lessons at upper primary school;
language courses or extra classes in a foreign language;
visiting foreign countries;
The second part of the questionnaire for students consisted of 10 questions. Below the questionnaire is presented in English: Question no. 1 was: How do you evaluate your foreign language teacher’s role, on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being – not important, 5 – very important.
a controller 1 2 3 4 5
a source of information 1 2 3 4 5
an organizer 1 2 3 4 5
an actor 1 2 3 4 5
an assessor 1 2 3 4 5
an advisor 1 2 3 4 5
a participant 1 2 3 4 5
an evaluator 1 2 3 4 5
Question no. 2 was: My ideal teacher of English is: (tick off two answers from the given list)
with a sense of humour;
establishing contacts with learners easily;
possessing enormous subject knowledge;
available for students after classes.
Question no. 3 was: Do you think the teacher of English should possess a fluent command of the language? The answers to choose were: a) Yes; b) Rather yes; c) Rather not.
Question no. 4 was: Do you think the teacher of English should possess ideal pronunciation? Students were asked to indicate one of the following answers: a) Yes; b) Rather yes; c) Rather not.
Question no. 5 was: Do you think teacher’s knowledge about foreign culture and literature is important? The answers to choose from were as follows: a) Yes; b) Rather yes; c) Rather not.
Question no. 6 was: Do you think maintaining discipline during the foreign language classes is important? Students were asked to indicate one of the following answers: a) Yes; b) Rather yes; c) Rather not.
Question no. 7 was: In your opinion, does the teacher ought to correct all the students’ mistakes? Students were asked to indicate one of the answers: a) Yes; b) Rather yes; c) Rather not; d) No.
Question no. 8 was: Does the teacher need to be demanding? Again, possible answers were the same as the above ones: a) Yes; b) Rather yes; c) Rather not; d) No.
Question no. 9 was: Should the teacher talk a lot during the lesson? Possible answers: a) Yes; b) Rather yes; c) Rather not; d) No.
Question no. 10 was: Should the teacher create conditions to speak for learners during the lesson? Students were asked to choose one answer from the following ones: a) Yes; b) Rather yes; c) Rather not; d) No.

The questionnaires for the teachers also contained two parts, the first one involved such general issues as: the place where he has been teaching and any additional ones, the degree of proper formal education as well as teacher’s experience in teaching. In the second part of the questionnaire there were 10 questions altogether.
Question no. 1 was: Give 5 most important features of a good language teacher. It was an open question and I received various answers which will be presented later. The teachers were also asked to justify their opinions.
Question no. 2 was: Which of the below roles are the most important for you? Evaluate them on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 – being not important, 5 – very important. Teachers were given the following list of roles:

a) A controller (a person who maintains discipline in the classroom, controlls exercises, etc.) 1 2 3 4 5
b) An organizer (a person who organizes work in the classroom, prepares activities and exercises) 1 2 3 4 5
c) An assessor (a person who evaluates students’ learning progress, their involvement, etc.) 1 2 3 4 5
d) A source of information 1 2 3 4 5
e) An advisor 1 2 3 4 5
f) A participant (a person who takes part in the process of learning/teaching together with the students) 1 2 3 4 5
g) A guide (a person who gives clues) 1 2 3 4 5
h) A person who obey school rules, school and ministry documents as well as headmaster’s recommendations 1 2 3 4 5
i) A performer/an artist/an actor 1 2 3 4 5
Question no. 3 was: Which of the below listed features are the most essential for a language teacher? (Mark the value on a scale from 1 to 10). Teachers were given the following list of features:
a) empathy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
c) justice 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
d) being demanding 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
e) understanding 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
f) being straight when approaching work duties 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
g) being punctual 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
h) being hard-headed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
i) being effective at work 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
j) possessing good manners 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
k) good work organization 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
l) possessing theoretical knowledge about the processes responsible for learning and behaviour of people 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
m) possessing subject knowledge 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
n) eloquence 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
o) enthusiasm in approaching the subject which is being taught by the teacher
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
p) capability in introducing the curriculum in an understandable way as well as variety of used methods and techniques of teaching students 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Questions nos. 4 to 10 referred to the following aspects of the lesson:
4 – strict control of the lesson
5 – correction of all mistakes
6 - giving homework
7 – correcting homework and discussing errors
8 – predictable pattern of the lesson
9 – using only the foreign language during the lesson
10 – teacher’s approach towards students of upper primary and lower secondary school.

4.2.5. Analysis of the data and its evaluation

In the first part of this section I will present the answers given in the following way:
upper primary and lower secondary students from school I;
upper primary and lower secondary students from school II;
opinions of the teachers from schools I and II.

The 6th grade students of school I, who attended both basic and advanced English lessons indicated consistently that the main sources of their foreign language knowledge were lessons at school, self-study and playing games in English on the Internet.
As for question no. 1 they listed the following roles: ‘an assessor’, ‘a participant’ and ‘a source of information’. The last place was for the role as ‘an advisor’. Only some of the students pointed out the role of ‘an actor’. The diagram shows their answers.

Diagram 1. Roles of the teachers. 6th grade students of upper primary school I.

As for question no. 2 I received the following answers. The biggest score went to a sense of humour, then being just, and establishing good relationship with the learners. Some other features were also listed, but the scores were not vey significant. Below is the diagram representing the answers in detail.

Diagram 2. Traits of character. 6th grade students of upper primary school I.

Questions nos. 3 to 10 were more specific and I received the following answers. Both groups agreed that the teacher should have a good command of the language he/she is teaching. As for pronunciation it should be rather good, the knowledge of literature and culture may be useful, but is not necessary. As for the error correction there was no clear opinion, learners were rather divided in this respect. The last two questions concerned participation in the lesson. The learners were of the opinion that the teacher ought to talk a lot, although he/she should give the students some opportunity to take part in the lesson. The only thing that they did not agree on is the issue of maintaining discipline which for basic level group is not necessary but for advanced level one is rather important. Advanced group also prefers the theacher to be demanding. The below diagrams illustrate the answers in some detail.

Diagram 3. 6th grade students of upper primary school I, basic level group – Various issues concerning teachers.

Diagram 4. 6th grade students of upper primary school I, advanced level group – Various issues concerning teachers.

The students of lower secondary school I who attended both advanced and basic level classes, derive their knowledge from different sources. They not only learn during lessons at school but also attend extra classes, learn by themselves and get the input from being abroad. Because of the access to the Internet and other sources of mass communication in big towns, they also watch TV series or films in the native language or use it creatively when they are online. As for question no. 1 they listed such roles as: ‘a source of information’, ‘an organiser’ and ‘an assessor’, ‘a controller’ and the last one ‘a participant’. Younger students also added the role of ‘an advisor’. The role of ‘a participant’ is important also for both groups. All these issues are shown in dagram below.
Diagram 5. Roles of the teachers. Students of lower secondary school I, different grades.

As for question no. 2 I received the following answers. The teacher of a foreign language needs to be well-educated, nice and should establish contact with the learners easily. Additionally, he ought to have a sense of humour. Being fair, well-organised, with enormous subject knowledge as well as a talkative person is mentioned in the second place. Below diagram illustrates the students’ opinions.

Diagram 6. Traits of character. Students of lower secondary school I, different grades.

As for questions nos. 3 to 10, students’ opinions were as follows. They agree that the most important feature of a foreign language teacher is his knowledge of the language. Then they added creating conditions for students to speak. They consider important the issue of correcting mistakes and they need the teacher to talk a lot. Accordingly, in their opinion, being demanding, possessing good pronunciation as well as maintaining discipline in the classroom are rather important, what is shown in the diagram below.
Diagram 7. Additional issues concerning teachers. 1st and 2nd grade students of lower secondary school I.

Taking into account students of the 6th grade of school II, there were altogether 13 students who took part in the survey. When question no. 1 is concerned, they were of the opinion that among the most important teachers’ roles are: the one of ‘a source of information’, ‘an organiser’, ‘a participant’ and ‘an assessor’. Another one is the role of ‘an advisor’. Other roles were not considered equally important. Their answers are shown in the diagram below.

Diagram 8. Roles of the teachers. Opinions of the 6th grade students of upper primary school II.

As for question no. 2, the students were of the opinion that the teacher ought to have ‘a sense of humour and possess subject knowledge. Less important were: being nice, well-educated and available after classes. Students’ answers are illustrated below.

Diagram 9. Traits of character. Opinions of the 6th grade students of upper primary school II.

As for questions nos. 3 to 10, majority of students were of the opinion that good knowledge of the foreign language by the teacher and creating conditions to speak for students are necessary. Moreover, teacher’s good pronunciation is preferable. Most of them agree that correcting mistakes as well as being a talkative and demanding teacher is rather useful. The below diagram shows their answers.

Diagram 10. Different issues concerning teachers. Opinions of the 6th grade students of upper primary school II.

Learners of the second grade of lower secondary school II (advanced level group) gain their knowledge of a foreign language mainly from lessons at school as well as by self-study. Only one student has been abroad and another one attended extra classes. They did not indicated using the Internet at all. As for question no. 1, according to them, a teacher’s role is to be ‘an actor’ and in the second place ‘a controller’ and ‘an advisor’. The next place is for ‘an assessor’ and ‘a participant’. Their opinions are illustrated by the diagram below.

Diagram 11. Roles of the teachers. Students of lower secondary school II.

As for question no. 2 they listed the following traits of character: being just, possessing sense of humour and being understanding. The second place was for such traits as: being nice and well-educated. Some surveyed pointed out being organized, with subject knowledge and talkative. Their answers are shown by the diagram below.

Diagram 12. Traits of character. Students of lower secondary school II. Different grades.

As for questions nos. 3 to 10, I received the following answers. In students’ opinion, knowledge of literature and culture of a foreign country as well as good pronunciation are the most important issues. Knowledge about foreign culture and literature, correcting mistakes and creating conditions to speak are useful. Rather important are: maintaining discipline, being demanding as well as talking a lot by the teacher. The students’ opinions are illustrated by the diagram below.
Diagram 13. Additional issues concerning teachers. Students of lower secondary school II.

Another questionnaire was completed by the teachers. The results obtained in both schools are presented together. Any possible differences are illustrated in the diagram. As for question no. 1, according to the surveyed, features which each teacher ought to possess are: eagerness to broaden one’s knowledge, patience, indulgence, ability to make critical self-evaluation as well as being conscientious at work. As for question no. 2, teachers listed three in their opinion most important roles: ‘an organizer’, ‘a controller’, ‘an evaluator’. Others were less important, what is visible in the diagram below.
Diagram 14. Roles of the teachers. Opinions of teachers from school I and school II.

As for question no. 3, they indicated as the most crucial ones such features of character as: empathy, being just, being reliable when it comes to work duties, good organization of work, teaching in an understandable way and using different methods during classes. The teachers agreed that the second place is for punctuality, being hard-headed, effectiveness at work, possessing good manners and subject knowledge. Moreover, eloquence as well as enthusiasm in approaching the subject is also important. Teachers’ opinions are shown in the diagram below.
Diagram 15. Teachers’ traits of character. Opinions of teachers from both schools.

As for questions nos. 4 to 10, I received the following opinions. The surveyed are of the opinion that the teacher’s role is to supervise the lesson strictly. They also agreed that the teacher ought to correct all of the students’ mistakes. Moreover, the questionnaires proved homework needs to be given to the learners. Teachers were in favour of correcting students’ homework and its discussion. None of them thinks that lessons need to be conducted according to one, predictable and well known to students scheme. Teachers also agree that a foreign language which is taught by them is not the only way of communication with students during lessons. They also claim it is permissible to use the native language of the teachers and the learners. The reason of this is that some difficult issues when introduced and explained in students’ mother tongue, are much easier to understand. All the teachers also presented an opinion that teacher’s approach to younger and older students ought to be completely different.

Diagram 16. Different issues concerning teaching. Opinions of teachers from both schools.

Here, I am going to sum up the previously described data. In the action research the hypothesis were:
First of all, to see whether there are any differences between the opinions about teachers’ roles and teaching itself of students from a small town (school II in the survey) and the ones from a larger one (school I);
Secondly, it was to see whether the opinions differ when it comes to upper primary school students and lower secondary ones (taking into account both schools together);
Lastly, whether there are any differences beween the opinions between students who attend basic level classess and the ones who attend an advanced ones (both schools together).
On the basis of the action research, there were formulated the following conclusions:
Conclusion no. 1: There are no differences between the opinions of students from a small town and the ones from the larger one.

When it comes to the difference between the opinions about teachers’ roles and various issues concerning teaching process as well as the needs of the students who live in the smaller and in the larger towns, their opinions were approximately similar. On the basis of the results of the questionnaire one can say that in the 21st century the place of living is of no key importance because of having access to the Internet or other modern sources of sharing information with other people all over the world. The accessibility of foreign language teachers is of great importance both for younger and older students from both towns. Explanation of such a state of affairs seems to be the approach to foreign language teaching nowadays. Knowlegde of a foreign language or some of them is crucial for everyone and nowadays, students are becoming more and more conscious about this fact. All the surveyed agreed that a teacher needs to have enormous knowledge of the language he has been teaching and easiness of establishing contacts with them. They do not consider being always strict as a good feature of character. It is good when teachers change their approach according to different age groups of students and use not only a foreign language during lessons. The students from the smaller and the larger town only differ when it comes to gaining access to modern technology because the ones from school II did not indicate using of the Internet, computer games or DVD films as sources of their knowledge of English. It can be caused by circumstances which are independent of them.

Conclusion no. 2: Opinions of the students from upper primary school and lower secondary one are quite similar.

The action research on the students’ opinions on the roles of the teachers during foreign language lessons has shown that opinions of the students of the sixth grade of primary school and of the first, second and third grade of secondary school have a lot in common. As for the roles of the teachers they are in an agreement. Six grade students mentioned ‘an assessor’, ‘a participant’, ‘a controller’ and ‘a source of information’. Lower secondary ones prefer almost the same roles: ‘a participant’, ‘an assessor’ and another time ‘a source of information’. As for the features of an ideal teacher of a foreign language the surveyed also agreed. First of all, both groups agree that he ought to be well-educated. Having a sense of humour, being just and understanding is important for the younger learners. The older ones add the feature of being nice. They also feel that possessing knowledge about the subject which he has been teaching is important. Both groups are of the opinion that teacher’s ability to establish contact with the learners is crucial. They want the teacher to speak, but on the other hand, there need to be time for them to speak too.

Conclusion no. 3: There are both: similarities as well as differences between students who attend basic level classes and the one who attend advanced level classes.

The answers of students attending basic level classes and advanced level ones agree in some respects and disagree in some others. For students from advanced level the most important teacher’s roles are the ones of ‘a controller’, ‘a source of information’ and ‘an advisor’. For the ones who attend basic level, they are: ‘a source of information’, ‘an assesor’ and ‘a participant’. As for the features of character of the language teacher, advanced level group points out being well-educated, understanding, nice and having easiness in establishing contact with students. The basic group prefers: possesing a sense of humour, being just and agrees when it comes to establishing contacts. As for the other features of the teacher, both groups agree that a good knowledge of the language is a must, they also feel creating conditions to speak for students is important.

Teacher’s opinion
The questionnaire for the teachers was rather a source of verification for the opinions of the students. As there were only 7 teachers who participated, their opinions are not very representative but they rather serve as a kind of verification. They were of the opinion that the features of character which each teacher ought to possess are: empathy, being just, obeying work duties, good organization of work, teaching in an understandable way and using different methods and techniques while teaching. Secondly, a good teacher ought to distinguish himself by punctuality as well as being hard-headed. He should be effective at work and he ought to possess good manners. Moreover, he should have subject knowledge, be eloquent and at last, enthusiastic in approaching the foreign language. In addition to this, teachers believed there are different students in each class. They represent different levels of knowledge of English, that is why it is advisable to adjust teaching to these features. The teachers were of the opinion that students ought to do homework especially when there was new material introduced during the lesson (mainly difficult grammar). The aim of such behaviour is its consolidation. Moreover, homework should be also adjusted to the level of the certain class and material. In dependence on interval between the lessons the amount and difficulty of homework ought to be varied. According to the opinion of one of the surveyed teachers of English from school II: ‘Each teacher, a foreign language teacher too, ought to possess all mentioned in the questionnaire features and abilities. It is indispensable in this work because we work with young people and shape their characters as well as personalities. We give them a model of appropriate behaviour. At the same time we help them and support their development’. Students’ opinions on the roles of teachers during a foreign language classess confirm this point of view.


To sum up this thesis, it ought to be said that students have different opinions on the roles which are played by teachers during foreign language classes. But, we need to answer the question, what is a role. In general it is a kind of function that a person is appointed or expected to do. In this research there are several roles which were mentioned by learners, although they all are conscious of the general role of their teachers which is described in Encyclopedia Britannica with these words:

Broadly speaking, the function of teachers is to help students learn by imparting knowledge to them and by setting up a situation in which students can and will learn effectively. But teachers fill a complex set of roles, which vary from one society to another and from one educational level to another. Some of these roles are performed in the school, some in the community (Encyclopedia Britannica online, Internet source).

Teacher’s role at school is, apart from his primary responsibility of teaching students, also cooperating with others. Not to mention the fact that today it is much more different than it used to be in the past. They were expected to use the same methods for all students. In today’s world of education, a teacher’s role is quite multifaceted (cf. http://k6educators.about.com, Internet source). Teachers of foreign languages work not only with other teachers and headmasters but also with politicians or local government.
Additionally, having unlimited access to modern tools of teaching, teachers need to be in constant process of changing and adjusting to the new reality. They need to learn. And it is easily visible for students who are watching their every move. Not without any importance are commonly used possibilities and tools such as for instance whiteboards or interactive boards. All these help teachers fulfil the roles but also to fulfil learners’ expectations.
The use of the appropriate teaching method or approach as well as various tools of modern technology distinguishes the current role of the teacher from that in the past. These issues make teachers change the roles that they have in the foreign language classroom, leading more toward concentration on the learner.

Teaching is becoming more and more difficult also because of all the possibilities that were mentioned above. Nowadays, the foreign language teacher needs to play different roles in the classroom every day and during each lesson. To intrigue and catch the learners’ attention he must be at the same time ‘a genius’ when it comes to the knowledge of grammar rules and structures, vocabulary, culture, ‘a singer’ with a nice accent, ‘a director’ of dramas, ‘a poet’ who runs through valuable poems with the teenagers or ‘a critic’ who takes them to the theatre in order to see one of the performances in English. Besides, in the age of IT, he/she has to be a specialist in using all modern technical achievements.
So, different kinds of knowledge of a foreign language teacher are important when it comes to creating his professionalism. Using methodological competences in a right way is essential in order to gain self-evaluation and afterthoughts as well as teaching philosophy (cf. Werbińska 2004: 26). Teacher’s pedagogical knowledge is constantly broaden and enables analysis of the pedagogical problems as well as development of alternative teaching strategies. Moreover, psychological knowledge enables communication with the learners what in general is the basis of teaching, not to mention teacher’s comprehensive knowledge which plays a role in gaining prestige. These issues have influence on students’ opinions on teachers’ roles. Those opinions were clearly reflected in the survey I conducted among learners.
To end this thesis we can ask a question why English is so popular, why researchers have been trying to match the needs of the learners to the needs of the contemporary world and finally, why methodology constantly adjusts the way of teaching to the needs and capabilities of the learners. It is not surprising that learning a foreign language has always been a crucial need for many populations all over the globe. Richards and Rodgers say that

It has been estimated that some sixty percent of today’s world population is multilingual. Both from a contemporary and a historical perspective, bilingualism or multilingualism is the norm rather than the exception (1986: 1).

On the basis of the findings of this thesis as well as the above quotation, the answer seems to be obvious. After World War II English became a lingua franca for many people in the world eager to communicate with each other and to be understood even if their first languages are different ones. For them English is a means of communication. It is also the language of science, trade, economy, business, academics, tourism, etc. Not surprisingly, this is the reason why it is so popular and why methodology tries constantly to help the learners, and tries to facilitate the process of learning. It is often said that English is the language of the future.
However, one needs to mention that there are as many opinions of the roles of the teachers in the English classroom as there are students in it. This is what my action research seemed to confirm.


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27. Scrivener, J. 2005. Learning Teaching, 2nd edition, Macmillan.
28. Siek-Piskozub, T. 2009. ‘Nauczanie języków obcych dzieci w wieku wczesnoszkolnym – wyzwania i problemy’ in: Sikora-Banasik, D. (ed.). Wczesnoszkolne nauczanie języków obcych. Warszawa: Centralny Ośrodek Doskonalenia Nauczycieli: 9-16.
29. Sikora-Banasik, D. 2009. Wczesnoszkolne nauczanie języków obcych. Zarys teorii i praktyki, 1st edition, Warszawa: Centralny Ośrodek Doskonalenia Nauczycieli.
30. Stern, H. H. 1983. Fundamental Concepts of Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
31. Szempruch, J. 2011. Nauczyciel w warunkach zmiany społecznej i edukacyjne. Kraków: Oficyna Wydawnicza ‘Impuls’.
32. Taraszkiewicz, M. 2005. Program Słonecznik ‘Jak uczyć uczniów uczenia się’, Warszawa: Centralny Ośrodek Doskonalenia Nauczycieli.
33. Titone, R. 1968. Teaching Foreign Languages: An Historical Sketch. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
34. Ur, P. 1996. A Course in Language Teaching. Practice and theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
35. Werbińska, D. 2004. Skuteczny nauczyciel języka angielskiego. Warszawa: Fraszka Edukacyjna.
36. Yule, G. 2006. The Study of Language, 3rd edition, Cambridge University Press.

Additional sources:

1. Rozporządzenie Ministra Edukacji Narodowej z dnia 17 kwietnia 2012r. Zmieniające rozporządzenie w sprawie szczegółowych kwalifikacji wymaganych od nauczycieli oraz określenia szkół i wypadków, w których można zatrudnić nauczycieli niemających wyższego wykształcenia lub ukończonego zakładu kształcenia nauczycieli (Dz. U. z 2012r. poz. 246).
2. Statut Publicznej Szkoły Podstawowej nr 3 i Publicznego Gimnazjum nr 3 w Zespole Szkół Publicznych nr 3 im. Karola Wojtyły w Kobyłce.
3. Ustawa z dnia 26 stycznia 1982 r. Karta Nauczyciela ogłoszona dnia 8 czerwca 2006r. obowiązująca od dnia 1 lutego 1982r.
4. Ustawa z dnia 7 września 1991r. o systemie oświaty (Dz. U. z 2004r. nr 256, poz. 2572, z późniejszymi zmianami).

Internet sources:

1. ‘Functions and roles of teachers’. Encyclopedia Britannica online. http://www.britannica.com/Ebchecked/topic/585183/teaching/39100/Functions-and-roles-of-teachers. [21 June 2014].
2. http://k6educators.about.com [12 July 2014].


Tytuł niniejszej pracy magisterskiej brzmi Opinie uczniów o rolach pełnionych przez nauczycieli języka obcego podczas lekcji. Składa się ona z trzech rozdziałów teoretycznych oraz jednego, który opisuje przeprowadzone badanie.
Początek poświęcony jest opisowi zmieniających się ról nauczycieli podczas lekcji w perspektywie historycznej. W pierwszym rozdziale znajduje się szczegółowa analiza różnych metod oraz podejść stosowanych podczas nauczania języków obcych od przeszłości aż do czasów obecnych. Pośród nich znajdują się: Metoda Gramatyczno-Tłumaczeniowa, Metoda Bezpośrednia, Metoda Audiolingwalna, the Silent Way, TPR czyli Metoda reagowania całym ciałem, CLL, podejście Naturalne, Sugestopedia oraz CLT. Wszystkie wymienione uprzednio metody oraz podejścia w rzetelny sposób pokazują, w jaki sposób zmieniała się rola nauczyciela języka obcego podczas lekcji od czasu, gdy znajdował się on w centrum procesu nauczania, aż do chwili obecnej, gdy miejsce to zarezerwowane jest wyłącznie dla ucznia. Dodatkowo podane są przyczyny popularności nauczania drugiego języka obcego.
Tematyką rozdziału drugiego są różne role jakie pełni nauczyciel pracując w szkole. Pośród nich wyróżnić można obowiązek podporządkowania się zaleceniom Ministerstwa Edukacji Narodowej, dyrektora szkoły oraz obowiązek przestrzegania dokumentów, tj. Statut szkoły włączając Wewnątrzszkolny System Oceniania, Ustawa o systemie oświaty, Karta Nauczyciela oraz Kodeks Pracy. Rozdział ten porusza ponadto zagadnienia związane z wykształceniem nauczycieli, uczestniczeniem w kursach oraz szkoleniach, a także uzyskiwaniem przez nich wymaganych kwalifikacji zawodowych. Następnie przedstawiona została rola nauczyciela jako wychowawcy oraz podejmowane przez niego działania wobec właściwego zespołu klasowego. Jako ostatnia opisana jest rola nauczyciela języka obcego. Poruszona jest także tematyka różnorodnych rodzajów wiedzy posiadanych przez nauczycieli. Rozdział ten zakończony jest konkluzją, iż najbardziej podstawową a zarazem najważniejszą rolą nauczyciela języka obcego jest efektywnie go uczyć.
Rozdział trzeci nawiązuje do ról pełnionych przez nauczyciela podczas lekcji. Znajduje się w nim szczegółowy opis różnorodnych ról, wymagań stawianych nauczycielom, a także celu nauczania biorąc pod uwagę dwie grupy wiekowe uczniów: klasy 1-3 szkoły podstawowej oraz klasy 1-3 gimnazjum. Grupy te zostały także opisane: cechy rozwojowe charakteryzujące dany wiek, potrzeby oraz możliwości uczniów. Dodatkowo, rozdział ten zwraca uwagę na najbardziej charakterystyczne błędy popełniane przez nauczycieli w procesie nauczania. Ponownie skupia uwagę na różnicy pomiędzy rolami pełnionymi przez nauczyciela młodszych uczniów, a rolami pełnionymi przez nauczyciela uczącego w gimnazjum w nawiązaniu do różnych metod i podejść. W rozdziale tym podkreślono, iż na sposób w jaki wypełniane są role ma wpływ wiele różnorodnych czynników, np. zdobyte wykształcenie oraz kwalifikacje, jak też doświadczenie zawodowe, umiejętności, czy też cechy charakteru danego nauczyciela.
Ostatni rozdział niniejszej pracy jest opisem przeprowadzonego na jej rzecz badania wśród uczniów szkoły podstawowej, gimnazjum oraz nauczycieli uczących te dwie grupy wiekowe. Dane pochodzą z dwóch różnych szkół. Przedstawione w nim zostały pytania dwóch ankiet: dla uczniów oraz dla nauczycieli oraz odpowiedzi ankietowanych (opis na podstawie wykresów). Ostatnią częścią jest ewaluacja zebranych danych. Biorąc pod uwagę postawione hipotezy, zostały przedstawione trzy wnioski: 1. Nie ma różnicy pomiędzy opiniami na temat roli pełnionych przez nauczycieli języków obcych uczniów z małego oraz dużego miasta. 2. Opinie uczniów uczęszczających do szkoły podstawowej oraz do gimnazjum wykazują wiele podobieństw. 3. Dowiedziono zarówno podobieństwa, jak i różnicy pomiędzy opiniami uczniów należących do podstawowej i zaawansowanej grupy.

Niniejsza praca magisterska zakończona jest podsumowaniem.


I A questionnaire for students


Poniższa ankieta jest anonimowa i posłuży jako część badawcza pracy magisterskiej zatytułowanej Opinie uczniów o rolach pełnionych przez nauczycieli podczas lekcji
języków obcych

Część I
Nazwa szkoły:........................................
Poziom zaawansowania grupy:........................................
Ilość uczniów w grupie:........................................
Jeśli brak jest podziału na grupy proszę wykreślić.
Ilość godzin języka obcego w tygodniu........................................
Zaznacz źródła swojej wiedzy z języka obcego (max.3):
lekcje w szkole podstawowej,
kursy, korepetycje prywatne,
wyjazdy zagraniczne,
inne (podaj jakie)........................................

Część II
1. Jak oceniasz rolę nauczyciela w procesie przyswajania języka obcego (zaznacz w skali 1 do 5; 1- mało istotna, 5-bardzo ważna)

1 2 3 4 5
źródło informacji
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
- aktor
1 2 3 4 5
- osoba oceniająca
1 2 3 4 5
- doradca
1 2 3 4 5
- uczestnik
1 2 3 4 5

2. Mój idealny nauczyciel języka obcego to osoba (zaznacz dwie odpowiedzi):
Z poczuciem humoru
Łatwo nawiązująca kontakty z dziećmi
Posiadająca dużą wiedzę przedmiotową
Dostępna dla uczniów poza zajęciami

3. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien znać bardzo dobrze język, którego uczy?
a) Tak b) Raczej tak c) Raczej nie
4. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel języka obcego powinien mieć idealną wymowę?
a) Tak b) Raczej tak c) Raczej nie
5. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel języka obcego powinien posiadać wiedzę o kulturze
i literaturze ?
a) Tak b) Raczej tak c) Raczej nie
6. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien utrzymywać dyscyplinę na lekcji?
a) Tak b) Raczej tak c) Raczej nie
7. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien poprawiać wszystkie błędy?
a) Tak b) Raczej tak c) Raczej nie d) Nie
8. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien być wymagający?
a) Tak b) Raczej tak c) Raczej nie d) Nie
9. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien mówić dużo na lekcji?
a) Tak b) Raczej tak c) Raczej nie d) Nie
10. Czy nauczyciel powinien stwarzać uczniom warunki do mówienia?
a) Tak b) Raczej tak c) Raczej nie d) Nie

II A questionnaire for teachers


Poniższa ankieta jest anonimowa i posłuży jako część badawcza pracy magisterskiej zatytułowanej Opinie uczniów o rolach pełnionych przez nauczycieli podczas lekcji
języków obcych

Część I
Miejsce zatrudnienia:........................................
Dodatkowe miejsce zatrudnienia:........................................
Lata pracy w zawodzie:........................................

Część II
1. Podaj pięć najważniejszych, Twoim zdaniem, cech charakteryzujących dobrego nauczyciela języka obcego.
2. Oceń w skali 1-5, jak ważne są dla Ciebie role pełnione przez nauczyciela w klasie; gdzie 1 oznacza najważniejszą, a 5 najmniej ważną według Ciebie:
a) Kontroler (jako osoba utrzymująca dyscyplinę, kontrolująca przebieg ćwiczeń, itd.)
1 2 3 4 5
b) Organizator (osoba organizująca pracę w klasie, przygotowująca zadania i ćwiczenia)
1 2 3 4 5
c) Osoba oceniająca (przeprowadzająca ewaluację postępów uczniów w nauce, zaangażowania, itd.)
1 2 3 4 5

d) Źródło informacji
1 2 3 4 5
e) Doradca
1 2 3 4 5
f) Uczestnik (osoba współuczestnicząca w procesie uczenia się/nauczania)
1 2 3 4 5
g) Osoba dająca wskazówki
1 2 3 4 5
h) Osoba przestrzegająca zasad obowiązujących w szkole, dokumentów szkolnych, ministerialnych oraz zaleceń dyrekcji
1 2 3 4 5
i) Wykonawca/artysta/aktor
1 2 3 4 5

Uzasadnij swój wybór:

3. Które z poniższych cech według Pana/Pani są najbardziej istotne dla dobrego nauczyciela języka obcego? W każdym z poniższych podpunktów, zaznacz najważniejsze cechy w skali od 1 do 10:

a) empatia
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
b) sprawiedliwość
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
c) surowość (nauczyciel wymagający)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
d) wyrozumiałość
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
e) rzetelność w podejściu do pracy
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
f) punktualność
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
g) efektywność
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
h) kultura osobista
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
i) dobra organizacja pracy
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
j) posiadanie wiedzy teoretycznej na temat uczenia się i zachowania
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
ł) posiadanie wiedzy przedmiotowej dotyczącej nauczanego przedmiotu
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
k) elokwencja
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
l) entuzjazm
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
m) umiejętność przedstawiania treści programowych w zrozumiały sposób
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
n) różnorodność stosowanych metod i technik nauczania
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

4. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien ściśle kontrolować lekcję?
a) tak b) nie c) nie wiem

5. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien poprawiać wszystkie błędy?
a) tak b) nie c) nie wiem
6. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien zadawać pracę domową?
a) tak b) nie c) nie wiem
Jeśli tak, to napisz kiedy ........................................
7. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel powinien poprawiać prace domowe i dokładnie je omawiać?
a) tak b) nie c) nie wiem
8. Czy według Ciebie lekcje powinny być przeprowadzane zawsze według jednego, przewidywalnego i znanego uczniom schematu?
a) tak b) nie c) nie wiem
9. Czy uważasz, że nauczyciel języka obcego powinien posługiwać się podczas lekcji wyłącznie językiem, którego uczy?
a) tak b) nie c) nie wiem
Uzasadnij krótko swoją odpowiedź ........................................
10. Czy podejście nauczyciela do uczniów z nauczania początkowego i do gimnazjalistów powinno być porównywalne?
a) tak b) nie c) nie wiem

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