Building Student Confidence Gradually Throughout a Course
Being a student learning a new, foreign language I can acknowledge that feelings of insecurity and fear of making mistakes are often present. This can lead to students being quiet or non- participating. As a teacher, it is important to understand this and to make the students feel comfortable in class.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Adela J. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
From my experience
In my first month of learning Arabic, I was placed in the beginner’s class with 7 other students. My teacher at that time knew that she was dealing with students who have never read, spoken or written Arabic before in their life. As a result, she taught us a new vocabulary using pictures and the drilling technique. We often had to stand in front of the class to perform a role play.
She made the classes fun, interactive and communicative. After a couple of classes, she would also congratulate and reward us with a biscuit to show her appreciation. A couple of months later, I found myself in level 3.
My teacher at that time taught Arabic in such a chaotic way that it made me feel insecure and not liking the classes or the language. This was caused by the teacher not being structured, not motivating, not being well prepared and expecting too much from us in a very short amount of time. This resulted in many students repeating the same level.
The difference between the teaching styles of the two teachers played a huge impact on feeling confident or insecure in class. In retrospect, the first teacher understood her students well and knew what to do to make them feel at ease. She took her time and graded her lessons.
At the beginning of each lesson, we would talk as a “warmer” before we would jump into the course material. During these “warmers” she would use terms or sentences related to the grammar points that we would cover in that same lesson. We were often tested on our knowledge as well which helped us to memorize the material. She was engaged and would use the board a lot. The other teacher was sitting most of the time and was playing on her phone while we were doing our exercises.
Pace of teaching new material
Apart from the teacher playing an impact on the confidence of the students, it is necessary to gradually introduce the students to a new language. This is important so that the students don’t feel overwhelmed. A gradual approach to a language entails beginning with vocabulary first before introducing grammar.
I also found that if the teacher was able to explain something in the English language, even though she was not allowed to, it helped me to understand certain grammar points better than if she would continue explaining them in the Arabic language. This eliminated further confusion and misinterpretation.
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The biggest factor in making students feel confident in making them feel at ease in class. This will allow them to speak more, make mistakes, learn from them and improve their skill as they continue their journey. Learning a new language should be a fun and exciting experience which will keep the students motivated and focused.
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