Helping Spanish Native Speakers to Get Motivated and Confident to Participate in EFL Lessons
To finish the TEFL course, I would like to write on a topic that worries many EFL high school teachers in Spain: the lack of motivation, improvement, and participation of their students in the classroom. This is a topic that was widely discussed during my MA in Foreign Language Teaching. For this reason, I would like to take this opportunity to do some further research on this since I believe it's a topic of ultimate importance to all EFL teachers working in Spain. I will discuss how to solve this issue through the use of IT created to facilitate school exchanges.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ana Maria Serra C. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Spain's Center of Sociological Research (CIS) published statistics on Spaniards' English language skills, showing that only 53% of citizens between 18 and 25 years old felt confident in their English abilities. These alarming results show the low effectiveness of teaching English in Spain's current education system. Upon completion of Spain's compulsory secondary education studies (ESO), students will have received a total of up to 800 hours of English classes. Considering this fact, it is paradoxical that students do not have a real communication level by the end of their studies. The results are even more alarming if we compare the level of English language of Spanish students to their European neighbors: According to the data provided by Education First (2015), Spain is ranked number 19 of 27 European countries in English level. Therefore, it is of great importance to think about what factors are necessary to improve teaching and learning English in Spain.
Reasons of the Problem
Several educators point out that the use of a teaching style is still too dependent on theoretical contents and old methodologies. This is the main cause of failure in the English classroom. This inevitably makes students have low motivation, participation, and confidence. Moreover, there is a lack of real communicative situations and deficient use of modern available resources, specifically IT resources.
Student Exchange Program
School exchanges seem to be a good focus to fight the demotivation and lack of involvement and improvement of students. Students participating in exchange programs not only enjoy real and immediate communication but have also manifested a more open and participative attitude towards learning English. However, the results of the INE (2015) on young people's mobility in the first and second cycle of mandatory education, show that only 1.7% of students benefit from these exchanges. Therefore, school exchanges only benefit a low percentage of students and suppose only a temporary solution to pervasive problems.
Need of New Teaching Methods
For all these reasons, I believe it is of great importance to create new methodologies that offer all students the possibility of enjoying real communicative situations in which they see first hand the results of their language progress while enjoying the advantages of modern technology.
A good proposal would be to conduct school exchanges without moving from the classroom: using IT technologies and different modern communicative tools, like Zoom or Skype is a great solution. This would require international collaborations that could motivate and benefit both students and teachers. Two different schools in two different countries could arrange Zoom/Skype sessions throughout the year to allow their students to have speaking activities and see their progress and the benefits of learning English. These exchanges could also be done between two subjects: English and Spanish. For instance, in the English class, Spanish speakers would improve their English with native students. While in the Spanish class, Spaniards could help English speakers improve their Spanish.
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Together with these webcam sessions, teachers could create a series of projects to work on during the semester or school year, all of them involving the interaction between students of both schools.
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