Confidence as a Skill to Teach in an ESL Classroom
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Olga S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What is confidence?
Referring to the "Cambridge dictionary," "confidence" is "the quality of being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans or the future." Another source such as "collinsdictioary.com" defines confidence as: * "Belief in one's abilities; self-assurance." * "A feeling of trust in a person or thing."
Some of us often say: "I can do it!" but some of us, unfortunately, do not. Those who are doubting themselves and their abilities need to build their self-esteem or self-confidence.
Self-confidence is probably one of the most important things in people's life. It gives us the strengths we need to accomplish what we want. All of us are sometimes facing the problem with self-assurance. Then we need someone who can encourage us to believe in our inner power and support us in a way that shows us: " You can do it! Just believes in yourself!".
The foundation of self-confidence begins with the very first moment of our life. Family, surrounding, teachers all have an outstanding possibility to build a healthy environment for self-confidence growth. Unfortunately, many people are growing up in a not supportive atmosphere. As a result, they experience a lack of self-confidence, directly related to their school performance and social life. I think that a teacher is a person who can and should establish the facilities that make it possible to build and encourage student's self-confidence.
The very first impression
According to my own teaching experience, the first lesson is the best moment to get to know the students and plant a positive and trustful atmosphere. During my first lesson, I love to talk with the students about one of the greatest who became one of the most successful musicians of the 20th century despite his total blindness: Stevie Wonder. This topic is interesting for all ages, whether there are young learners or adults. It inspires and motivates students to do their best and work hard, allows them to see the difference between each other but respect and be tolerant to each other as well.
It is also good to let students complete the diagnostic test, assess the results, and set their goals and aims. This is a great approach to allow students to feel that they are a part of the whole process, and their opinion is critical and always will be considered. It helps a lot in building their self-esteem and social interaction skills.
To check any improvements, we use "Self-achievement" tables that students created. Once the topic is learned, I fill the tables with each student individually. So that we can talk about what was accomplished and what we should still work on. It is essential to don't criticize students but to praise them for what they have done and bring ideas of how we could fill the gaps in their already existing knowledge. Always use "honest praise" and praise your students every time they have done something well.
Celebrate even small achievements
Every lesson rewards the students' efforts by giving them bonuses, points, or stickers. By the end of each month, it is perfect to award students in different nominations according to their achievements or specific good behavior. It can be certificates, plagues, and so on. For the best student of the month, it could be a newspaper or magazine article. Create a class newspaper or magazine, for example. Together with the students, choose someone you will be writing the essay about, create the text and publish it. Ensure each student, and his/her achievement has been noted in this newspaper by the end of the year.
Share the classroom responsibilities between all students is also essential
It makes students feel their importance and teaches them what it means to take responsibility in all its impressions.
It is ok if students will experience mistakes and disappointment from time to time. You are there to support and direct them to work their things out on their own. Let them know that you are there to help. With your help, support, and many tries, they will achieve everything they want!
Build a supportive, friendly, and respectful atmosphere for all students. Let them feel that it is a class where they are learning a language and their family where everyone is ready to help and support each other. It will make every student feel comfortable and confident about handling their importance for each other and the world. As a result, you will see happy and self-confident people who succeed not only at school but in their whole life.
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