TESOL Quotes

Here's a collection of TESOL quotes, as well as general quotes on teaching, learning and language. Quotes can stimulate thought and be fun to read, especially if they relate to our lives. Hopefully these education quotes will do that. I've divided them up into learning and teaching quotes, language quotes, and into more specific TESOL quotes. However, there is naturally some overlap between the categories.


TESOL Quotes - Learning and Teaching

"You teach best what you most need to learn." Richard David Bach, American writer

"In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less." Lee Iacocca, American businessman.

"To teach is to learn twice." Joubert, French essayist, Pensees, 1842

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Aristotle, 384 BC - 322 BC

"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence." Robert Frost, American poet, 1874-1963

"Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous."Confucius, 551 BC - 479 BC, The Confucian Analects

"The wisest mind has something yet to learn." George Santayana, Spanish-American philosopher, writer, 1863-1952

"Much learning does not teach understanding." Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, 540 BC-480 BC, On the Universe

"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand." Chinese Proverb

"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts." C. S. Lewis, British writer 1898-1963

"It is only the ignorant who despise education." Publilius Syrus, Syrian writer, 100 BC, Maxims

"You are rewarding a teacher poorly if you remain always a pupil." Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, 1844-1900

"No man can be a good teacher unless he has feelings of warm affection toward his pupils and a genuine desire to impart to them what he believes to be of value." Bertrand Russell, English philosopher, 1872-1970

"If kids come to us [educators / teachers] from strong, healthy functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important." Barbara Coloroso, American teacher & writer.

"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job." Donald D. Quinn, teacher & writer.

"The wisest of the Ancients considered what is not too Explicit as the fittest for Instruction, because it rouses the facility to act." William Blake, English poet, (1799) a letter.

"Books we want to have young people read should not be recommended to them but praised in the presence. Afterwards they will find them themselves."Lichtenburg, German scientist & writer, Aphorisms, 1742-99.

"To spend too much time in studies is sloth." Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, politician & writer, Essays, 1597-1625.

"Education is light, lack of it is darkness." A Russian proverb

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." Henry Ford American industrialist, 1863-1947

"To be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner." Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, 1813-1855

"A teacher is a learner whose turn it is to speak." John Etheridge, writer, Uncharted Waters (2010)

"One looks with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child." Carl Jung, Swiss psychologist & psychiatrist, 1875-1961

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." Albert Einstein, 1879-1955

"The most extraordinary thing about a really good teacher is that he or she transcends accepted educational methods." Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist, 1901-1978

"To teach is to touch lives forever." Anon

"In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less." Lee Iacocca, American businessman, b 1924

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell when his influence stops." Henry Brooks Adams, American historian, 1838-1918

"Who dares to teach must never cease to learn." John Cotton Dana, American librarian, 1856-1929

TESOL Quotes - TEFL Quotes

"At any point in language teaching history there are always items of faith which nobody questions. The belief in a focus on meaning is the dogma of our time." Guy Cook, 'Language Play, language learning,' 1997.

"Far from being fixated on meaningful language to effect social action (as Krashen and others would have had us believe), young children acquiring their first language spend a great deal of their time producing or receiving playful language."Guy Cook, 'Language Play, language learning,' 1997.

[discussing a suggestion by Rinvolucri and Frank] "Activities which may be a success in a Californian encounter group are unlikely to work in the majority of ESL/EFL contexts." Nick Gadd, 'Towards less humanistic English teaching', 1998.

"Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill." Stephen Krashen.

"Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication – in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding."Stephen Krashen

"The comprehension hypothesis says you can be happy right now. It's instant gratification." Stephen Krashen

"Psychology and linguistics have caused a good deal of harm by pretending to have answers to those questions and telling teachers and people who deal with children how they should behave. Often the ideas presented by the scientists are totally crazy and they may cause trouble...(...) The truth of the matter is that about 99% of teaching is about making the students interested in the material. Then the other 1% has to do with your methods." Noam Chomsky

"I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way." Mark Twain

"Topic is still seen by most teachers as the central focus of classroom discussions. To my mind, it is certainly important, but not central: the crux is not what to talk about, but why you need to talk about it" Penny Ur

"A story can catch the attention of every student in the class and help them focus on points planned by the teacher. Storytelling increases attention span, makes for a higher level of cooperation, and a more positive attitude towards learning reading or any other subject." Mike Lockett


TESOL Quotes - Language

"People tend to think that when language changes it always deteriorates. But it doesn't, except in the minds of the older generations." David Crystal, British linguist

“Making English grammar conform to Latin rules is like asking people to play baseball using the rules of football.” Bill Bryson, Anglo-American writer

"The word "good" has many meanings.  For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man." G.K. Chesterton, English writer, 1874-1936

"You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once." A Czech proverb.

"If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world." Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian philosopher, 1889-1951.

"A man who does not know a foreign language is ignorant of his own."Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer, 1749-1832.

"No man should travel until he has learned the language of the country he visits. Otherwise he voluntarily makes himself a great baby - so helpless and so ridiculous." Ralph Waldo Emerson, American writer, 1803-1882.

"If you can speak three languages you're trilingual. If you can speak two languages you're bilingual. If you can speak only one language you're an American." Unknown.

"Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages." David Barry, American writer and humorist, 1947--

Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters.Samuel Johnson, English essayist, 1709-1784.

Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.Sir Winston Churchill, 1874-1965.

"One free lunch in the world is to learn another language in early childhood."Stephen Pinker, Canadian/American psychologist, The Language Instinct.

"You should know at least three languages .... think and dream in at least three languages..." Bedri Rahmi, Turkish poet & artist, 1913-1975.

"A word never - well, hardly ever - shakes off its etymology and its formation. In spite of all changes in and extensions of and additions to its meanings, and indeed rather pervading and governing them, there will persist the old idea."J.L. Austin, English philosopher of languages, 1911-1960,'A Plea for Excuses'

A language is a dialect that has an army and navy. Max Weinriech, Latvian linguist, 1894-1969.


Difficulties in Learning English

France's poor track record in learning English is "a sort of unconscious linguistic patriotism against the colonisation of minds" Eric Zemmour b. 1958 (French right wing commentator)

“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr (American inspirational author)



I hope you enjoyed reading these TESOL quotes. If you know of any interesting quotes related to teaching, learning and language; as well as specific TESOL quotes - send them to me via the contact form here - Thanks.



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