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Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching

Questionnaire about Language Classes

Szilvia Szita, Hungary

Szilvia Szita is currently working in The Hague/The Netherlands. She mainly teaches Hungarian and German. She has co-written course books, teachers' handbooks and grammar books for both languages. She is co-author of the MagyarOK course book series. She is interested in methodological approaches that help eliminate the border between learning in and outside the classroom. E-mail:

The answers below were given by ten adult learners who took German lessons with me in 2014, and speak at least two other foreign languages. Following Hania's approach, I have not made an attempt to interpret the data received but simply listed the answers "uncut". However, even like this, patterns emerge. It is also interesting to see where the focus of my adult students’ lies compared to Hania's university students (see: ).

On a personal note, I must say that it has been an enriching and, in a way, touching experience for me to read the answers of my students and to see how much (language learning) experience and life history is reflected in them.

1. In a language class I enjoy

  • fun activities that make you engage with the language
  • (guessing games, videos, exercises with words etc.)
  • when the atmosphere is excellent and the participants enjoy to learn the language and the teacher is really attentive to our progress and takes care individually of the people when they have difficulties
  • the texts cover subjects in various domains such as society, history, and travel.
  • participation, sharing ideas and opportunities to learn as much as I can.
  • speaking & listening under the direct supervision of the teacher.
  • discussions with a support (book, game, picture, theme…)
  • speaking in the language of the class.
  • a direct exchange with the teacher and the class mates. Lots of hands-on activities help me to fit the learning into a concrete/useful for life context.
  • feeling that I’m making progress, being addressed respectfully, the sense of humour of the teacher.
  • speaking and making jokes with my classmates in the foreign language.
2. In a language class I personally enjoy less
  • learning grammar rules
  • nothing
  • memorizing new vocabulary that I have no opportunity to use in practical life.
  • the teacher or one of the students is performing a "one-man show" not letting anyone else say a word.
  • when there are many interactive exercises without the direct supervision of the teacher
  • .
  • doing grammar exercises orally. I prefer to do them as homework and consult the teacher in case of problems
  • reading texts.
  • presentation without notice in front of the group ;-)
  • being openly “judged” by the teacher (even though I may not be as good as someone else, it should not show in the way I’m being addressed. After all, I too paid the tuition fees.)
  • when I have to learn things by heart.
3. In a language lesson I find it useful when
  • we have discussions on interesting topics with the other students, and correct each other’s mistakes. Discussing a topic makes you use a language in practice.
  • we try to speak and apply what we have learnt during the previous sessions
  • read texts and then discuss them with the teacher and the other members of the language class.
  • when we recycle new words from a text, when we write down whole sentences or expressions, when the teacher gives a lot of corrections and vocabulary.
  • I have opportunities for communicating in the language I am learning.
  • I have a written support to refer to (book, hand-outs…)
  • multimedia material is used.
  • when new subjects are explained with the support of cards, movies or live examples.
  • the objectives are stated. I understand/realize what I’ve learned. I get a written summary of the progress.
  • there is a recap session.
4. I think that in the language lesson I waste time when
  • I’m distracted and waiting for others to speak.
  • never
  • I do exercises on language features that I master already.
  • when we correct homework and do things I could on my own. Also, when there are too many different levels or when I feel I have no opportunities to use the language.
  • there are too many participants
  • I cannot participate or not feel comfortable about it.
  • exercises are corrected.
  • I try to follow a group’s exercise when I haven’t understood the subject or I haven’t prepared for it at home.
  • joking around, not studying, Teacher let the student drive, Teacher addresses systematically the same individuals, Exercises are too easy / Exercises are excessively difficult
  • I listen to my classmates talking and I don`t take part in the conversation.
5. A strength of a language teacher is
  • the ability to motivate students, by being energetic and giving a good example.
  • that he/she makes language learning fun and easy
  • his ability to give practical examples where the newly learned vocabulary could be used.
  • to make the class interesting and challenging. For me, language class is not so much about being social and doing things together, I really want to learn as much as possible.
  • her/his ability to engage people and create interactions/dynamic exercises.
  • the ability to vary the teaching techniques and to have a deep knowledge of the (grammar of the) language, i.e. be able to explain the reason for particular aspects of the language, its exceptions in a way adapted to non-native speakers of different back-grounds and mother tongues.
  • to inspire all the students to participate at dialogues.
  • the ability to teach and to communicate in different ways/styles according to the different audience inside and outside the class.
  • capacity to read and manage the group, Capable to provide each student with a sense of “importance”, Is committed/ passionate, Sense of humour while being focused on the teaching, respectful
  • to catch my attention and make me be concentrated during the class.
6. A weakness of a language teacher can be
  • focusing on topics that are not interesting to students
  • I do not know
  • his inability to address the needs of individual students.
  • not to be able to deal with dominant people, not to offer enough variety in the classroom, spend a lot of time on homework correction.
  • lacking creativity
  • not to understand the reasons why foreigners stumble with particular aspects of the language and who cannot provide explanations about it.
  • to read from a prepared document.
  • to lose students by giving up with the trials. A teacher should try (always) to have a fit-for-purpose approach: when he/she gives up/stops trying to help the student.
  • being overly self-centred, filling time with useless jokes/comments, Lack of personal investment, Incapacity to manage group (e.g. strong/dominant personalities)
  • the fact that he reads all the time from the book.
7. The most important thing in the group in which I learn a language is
  • that the others are of a similar level, so that we can communicate well and not feel uncomfortable
  • the atmosphere and the fact that the bests help others to progress
  • that all its members are motivated to speak the language with each other.
  • we have the same level and the people are respectful and tolerant. I do not appreciate competition.
  • giving everybody the opportunity to try out the language and showing respect for everyone.
  • to feel comfortable about participating.
  • that I learn from the questions of the other members of the group.
  • to identify immediately the strengths and weaknesses of each mate and support each other with humble behavior. I do not like students/teachers with attitude of superiority.
  • respect between students, common motivation in learning/participating, dedication to learning, even level
  • To know each other and have our own “inside jokes” after a while.
8. My opinion about using additional materials and other aids in a language class is
  • that they can be very helpful as they show the language in different contexts – spoken language in videos, journalist language in articles, slang on the Internet. Also they can provide inspiration to teacher and students alike (images online, videos online, news articles are examples)
  • I don’t need additional materials
  • that it leads to faster and more efficient learning.
  • can be useful when used in a meaningful way for learning purposes not just because it is something different from the book.
  • positive.
  • is positive when it does not replace the teacher. Any material which introduces variations between lessons is a good idea.
  • is very positive.
  • in favor. My motto would be use anything that helps the student to get a step further. Small steps are good and the speed should not count as much as the right method. So, try everything and something will work eventually.
  • no opinion: depends on the use…
  • positive, of course. I prefer music and films, because they introduce me to the culture of the land the language is spoken.


Please check the How the Motivate your Students course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Building Positive Group Dynamics course at Pilgrims website.

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