I was extremely impressed with Josh Coates plenary. As a language teacher, empathy is key. We have about 30 ESL teachers in our Intensive English Program. One factor that contributes most to our teachers' success is their own previous experience learning language. In fact, most of our teachers are TESOL MA Graduate students. This graduate program requires experience learning a language—and rightly so.
Coates' tips for empathy were excellent and well thought out. However, I would like to add that teachers who take classes can increase their empathy toward their students. As I reached 10 years of teaching experience, I decided to throw myself back into the game—the language learning game. I took a Chinese class. Although I had studied French, Spanish, and Hebrew previously, i was surprised by how much I had forgotten regarding the stress and energy associated in learning a new language. The Chinese class reminded me of the challenges our students face.
So, I'd like to add my tip to Coates'. Take a class and remember what it's like. You'll find yourself more empathetic.