Best Stress Relieving Techniques for an EFL Classroom
Helping students manage and overcome stress as they learn English is critical to their success in language-learning. I would suggest five ways of helping students in this area. First of all, teachers can help by bringing fun into the classroom. Secondly, teachers should prepare students well for exams. Thirdly, they should be aware of, and attempt to alleviate unnecessary pressure from parents. Fourthly, teachers might remind students that learning is a life-long endeavor. And fifthly, they should be vulnerable in sharing any personal failures of language learning.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Moriah Q. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What is Stress?
The Oxford dictionary defines stress as “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances” (Lexico Dictionaries). An easy way to alleviate stress is by decreasing the stakes or strain in an activity. Creating a classroom environment where fun is a core value of the class will no doubt receive stress. The ITTT training course taught many times on the use of games, role play, and other activities to create fun learning. Enjoyment breaks off strain and tension. When students play games to learn there is no fear of punishment and thus, no reason to be stressed. It is helpful to pair these kinds of interactive games with more intense drills to make language-learning fun.
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Common Sources of Stress
Exams are often the main stress trigger when learning anything. Yet, there is no need for a student to be stressed over exams when they have understood the content well. If a student feels confident in the content of the class, they will experience much less stress when exams come around. Thus, it is the role of the teacher to prepare students well. Proper amounts of in-class review and personal study tools can eliminate the stress of being ill-prepared.
Another source of stress can come from outside the classroom. I have noticed in my own experience with friends/peers learning English, that often their parents are putting extra pressure on them. While the ITTT course reminds teachers that they do not have control over what goes on outside the classroom, I believe there are ways they can alleviate some of that stress. It is healthy to meet with the students’ parents. The teacher might arrange a short meeting with them after a class and simply share goals of the class, updates on their student’s progress, and ask for their questions or concerns. In that meeting, the teacher might explain the ways that the parents can help their students and remind them that learning is a life-long process.
How to Overcome Stress
This point is also important for students to understand, as it should alleviate extra stress or frustration in language-learning. People learn from infancy, all the way into adulthood and beyond. It is easy to get caught up in trying to pass a class that student often forgets that it takes years and practice to be perfected in a skill or fluent in a language. It does not happen overnight. The teacher needs to encourage students to give themselves grace, even as there are expectations of the class.
Finally, I believe that leading by example is one of the most powerful ways of leading. There is often stress revolving around speaking/writing perfectly as to avoid ridicule. As teachers (or even peers) one of the most helpful tools in alleviating this pressure is by sharing personal failures. In my personal experience–as both a helper and a learner–the pressure to perform well is gone when I, or someone else, share an embarrassing language-fail story. It reminds the learner that everyone makes mistakes and there is no better way to learn. This can also build rapport with the students as they recognize that the teacher has also been in their shoes before.
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Learning a language is not easy. Students deserve encouragement and support along the way. It can be a very stressful task for many reasons. The teacher should desire to alleviate that stress as much as possible while reminding students that a little bit of eustress can be beneficial in driving hard work. Teachers need to recognize the students that are under unnecessary stress and discern how to best help them thrive in their studies. Nevertheless, even if no students seem particularly anxious, it is still beneficial to utilize these tools to maintain a stress-free classroom.
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