The Seven Habits of Highly Effective EFL Teachers

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a book that makes a lot of sense to me. I am trying to apply the principles to ESL teaching. Please share your ideas on the topic.The habits are:

  1. Be proactive
    Being proactive means you are not a programme but rather a
    programmer. You write your own programme. You choose your own
    response to a situation. Between stimulus and reponse man has the
    freedom to choose.
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
    Important things shouldn’t be at the mercy of unimportant things.
  4. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
    Empathetic listening.
  5. Think Win/Win
  6. Synergize
    The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
  7. Sharpen the saw

He has written an addition book called The 8th Habit. I haven’t read it yet.

Sorry to be such a curmudgeon, but I’ve read Covey’s book, and I’m not impressed. I think a far better guru for ESL teachers would be someone like Penny Ur Earl Stevick, or Scott Thornbury.

The seven habits book didn’t especially impress me either but there’s no harm in coming up with some guidelines for teachers. However, I would recommend that as this is a Taiwan-centric forum we think up useful habits for EFL teachers. We are teaching in an EFL environment after all, and the habits for ESL teachers may be different depending on which English-speaking country they’re working in.

Hi Aubrey,

Seven Habits (7H) spoke to me as well. I have recommended it to many people over the 16 years that it has been a consistently popular seller – 4 years on the NY Times Best Seller list and still readily available on the shelves of every substantial bookstore in the U.S. So, you’re not alone by a long shot. But I also know that its message falls flat with some. It also is often misunderstood or misquoted.

On to your question:

Although 7H clearly wasn’t written with ESL or EFL in mind, you have asked an excellent question. Much of the success of the Covey franchise has come from exactly that, taking the original idea and adapting it for other, more specific audiences.

Unfortunately, at the moment, I can’t give the effort that your question deserves. This summer, one of my goals is to re-read the book. If I do, I will also consider your valuable question and post a suitable reply. Maybe it will help us both next school year.

7H undoubtedly offers something of value to teachers. Hopefully we’ll discover what that is. Thanks for a thought-provoking question.


It’s me again. I think this article sums up what I think of Covey:

[quote=“wha’happened?”]It’s me again. I think this article sums up what I think of Covey:[/quote]
:laughing: Definitely worth a good laugh. I can certainly identify with the first few paragraphs. Like I said, 7H is often misunderstood and misquoted. Business idiot-speak drove me nuts.

I remember one particularly bad moment, corralled into a conference room, while forced to listen to some VP moron talk about our mission as if we really had one and the word “synergy” as if he really knew what it meant. I distracted myself during that mind-numbing stupidity-fest by creating a sketch of the vastly overused word “Synergy” with all sorts of dark things happening to the word. It wasn’t until the end of the meeting, when I took a fresh Rorschach look at my sketch, that I realized how much that crap really irritated me. I’d have been much better off in a bar.


I also like reading the 7 Habits book, along with the other books Covey has written (Principle-Centred Leadership, The 8th Habit, First Things First, etc.). It is a bit of recharging, and it helps me to think about my life and its direction. On the other hand, the 7 Habits, like virtually everything else, can not be all things for all people.


Where can I get a copy of this book in Taiwan?

I can’t understand why anybody would need a book to “learn” some of these things.

Common sense can’t be taught and it scares me to think that there are people out there who actually feel a need for this kind of stuff.

Common sense- is it really that common? :laughing:

Loretta, I have changed the heading to EFL as you suggested.

Seeker, I have read the book from cover to cover at least twice and now and then I read a portion. Every now and then I realize that those simple truths contained in the book are not commonly practiced in life. The difference between the way I got tho know about 7HOHEP and some other posters is that I wanted to read it and it wasn’t forced down my throat. It’s not easy to absorb something when it is forced down on you. A friend of mine was reading the book and she gave me an introduction into it.

Covey’s work is based on ageless principles and not quick fixes. There is nothing on the cover or in the book that is meant to trick you into buying the book.

After applying the principles my life started a journey up an upward spiral. At first I just tried out being proactive. I started running and a year later I compled a 90km race.

However, I did not keep on applying the principles and eventually reverted to my former state of being reactive.

Now, I feel like starting again.

I think that by combing these habits with NLP (for motivation) one could get superior results (which is a form of synergy).

These are things that people should keep in mind…
Some could be considered habits.

1: Plan… Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
2. Time Management… Use your work time to do your work so your time doesn

[quote=“ski”]These are things that people should keep in mind…
Some could be considered habits.

1: Plan… Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
2. Time Management… Use your work time to do your work so your time doesn