Classrooms that Work: The Role of Personality in Classroom Rapport

Betty Lou Leaver, Independent Scholar

This paper looks at the source of rapport (or lack thereof) in foreign language classrooms. The source of rapport is theorized to be compatibility or conflict in personality type. Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, based on Jungian theory of psychological type, as adapted by Keirsey to delineate four essential personality temperaments, the discussion centers on the areas of compatibility and conflict between teacher and student, as well as among students in small groups or a large class, for each of the possible combinations.

This paper presents a brief overview of the theory behind personality typology, both that undertaken in the United States and that undertaken in Europe. The purpose of the overview is to provide a methodological background for the discussion and to present and define some terminology (terms provided in Russian and English) that may not be familiar to all listeners. The bulk of the paper focuses on pragmatic considerations. These include discussions of the source and nature of the various conflicts. They also include suggestions for ameliorating conflicts, whether those be between teacher and individual students or among students themselves. Suggestions for helping classrooms succeed as mathemagenic environments are provided not only as psychological recommendations but also as pedagogical recommendations, including ways to use various activities, techniques, and “texnologija obučenija” in ways that predispose students to enjoy their classes, as well as to learn from them.

The recommendations are based on the work of linguists, as well as psychologists. They have been tested in practice in a number of classrooms in the United States and abroad. Examples of the recommendations in practice are provided as part of the discussion.


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