I taught English as a foreign language at two different language schools in Japan before starting to teach TOEFL 12 years ago. I learned from both schools some of the fundamental attitudes that a “good language teacher” should take toward teaching language. Especially in the second school, I had an opportunity to have a mentor (If I may say so) who taught me what language teaching should be like. Together with my own little principles, it still is something to turn to for help every time I seem to forget about the basics and struggle.
One is the relationship between the language teacher and the teaching material. My mentor told me that if you are a language teacher, you should be able to teach if there is only one phone book in front of you. Luckily, I totally understood what he meant. (and that’s why I started to regard him as my mentor :p) It is not so much the material that is fundamentally important to learners; rather it is the teacher him/herself that matters. If learners find satisfaction in the material, then they will go to the bookshop and get some books. However, they don’t find it enough, so they end up in school… for what? For a more active interaction between the teacher and themselves.
I haven’t done any research on this consumer sentiment. I am not an expert in second language acquisition, either. (I haven’t received any formal instruction about SLA. I was a law major at university.) Therefore I am not ready to convince you of its validity. Well, who cares? This is something I always have in mind to refresh my teaching (this time, TOEFL), and it is good to have some definite basics you can turn to, whatever it may be.
Now I have to conclude with this irony. Someone who believes texts are not that important has now published eight textbooks and is working on another book!