Teaching vs. Coaching: Which do you need?

A coach speaking to a soccer team
Teaching or coaching?

Do you need a teacher or a coach? 

You definitely need both, but at different times. 

Think about sports. If you are new to a sport, first you need to understand the rules. You need to learn basic techniques. If you try to play a sport without a teacher showing you how, you will find it very difficult. First, you need a teacher because teachers help you learn.

After you understand the rules and the techniques, you need a coach. Nearly all athletes have coaches. Think about the Olympics. No athlete is being taught, they are all being coached. Coaches help you train.

First, you learn. Then, you train. Understanding the difference is important. 

Start with teaching

When a skill or subject is new, you need a foundation of knowledge about the topic. 

A teacher is usually able to do the thing themselves. A math teacher can do math. An English teacher can speak English. If they can do the basics, then they can show you the basics.

Teaching also introduces you to techniques. For example, in golf, there are specific ways you should hold the club and swing. 

A great teacher understands the rules and techniques clearly. They show you so that you can easily understand them, too.

Move up to coaching

When you have enough knowledge, you need to start doing it for yourself.

Think about sports again. After you know the rules and techniques, you want to succeed. You probably want to win against your opponent. You need to find your style, your strengths and your potential. 

If you want someone to coach you in a sport, you should ask if they have the time and energy to support you. A good coach can push you to reach your potential. A good coach can also help you overcome failure and develop your practice routine. 

A great coach understands the maximum you can achieve.

Two common mistakes

At The English Farm, we often help students who make these mistakes.

1. Start coaching too early

Don't start training before you understand the material. To be coached, you should know the rules and know what it means to win. 

Students fail when they practise things they haven't finished learning. For example, shadowing. If you want to repeat what a speaker is saying, you first need to know the rules of speech. That means connected speech, word stress and English sounds. After you understand them, you should move on to training. 

2. Never get coaching

Simply understanding is not enough. You should reach your potential.

Students who don't get coaching generally don't succeed. For example, vocabulary. Understanding the meaning of a word is enough if you want to pass a test. But if your goal is to use English with confidence, then you should use vocabulary yourself. You should develop your learning habits so you can speak in your own style with confidence.

One solution

First, you need a teacher to correctly understand the subject. Then, you need a coach to reach your potential.