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In my English learning journey, we were fortunate to have a couple of sessions with native-speaking teachers. The initial excitement was palpable: “YES, WE HAVE THE GREATEST OF ALL NOW. OUR TUTOR SPEAKS PERFECT ENGLISH!” However, truth be told, those sessions turned out to be somewhat disappointing. Despite our tutor’s flawless language skills, I didn’t feel any significant progress in my own language abilities.

Our native English instructors excelled at providing definitions—like a “Live Dictionary.” Their knowledge was vast and well-rounded. Yet, there was a missing piece, and the entire class shared this sentiment. It became evident that content alone is not enough for effective teaching.

What was lacking? Techniques. Our well-educated tutors struggled to engage us effectively. They viewed students as empty vessels waiting to be filled—an approach that misses the mark. Their mindset echoed the notion of “I know it, you don’t, so I’ll transfer my knowledge to you.” This analogy reminded me of the smashed cake example from my 2nd TESOL course.

As educators, we must recognize that knowledge is socially constructed. Our role is to create an environment where students actively construct their own knowledge. There’s a timeless adage attributed to a philosopher: “Teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” This art lies in the techniques we employ—the other half of effective teaching.

Knowledge and fluency in a language undoubtedly matter—they’re a cornerstone of the learning process. However, being a good teacher requires more than knowledge and fluency; it demands the skill to guide, inspire, and facilitate discovery. Let’s remember that teaching is not just about what we know; it’s about how we share it.

Language is Cake. Try to make a delicious one and also serve it well. If you smash it or use poor-conditioned ingredients, NO ONE WOULD LIKE IT.

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