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How Confidence Can Affect a Language Student's Performance

How Confidence Can Affect a Language Student's Performance | ITTT | TEFL Blog

When a new teacher goes into a classroom for the first time they are confronted with the reality of human students, rather than what they have learned about teaching from a book. Often what they find is that much of what goes on does not necessarily follow their carefully planned lesson, as real life and the unpredictability of human nature can get in the way. Perhaps only after a couple semesters of experience can a teacher really figure out what to do with all levels of students to help build self-confidence in a skillful manner.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Anita B.

The Importance of Individual Student Confidence

One thing that a seasoned professional often discovers early on in their career is that it’s important to instill confidence in all students no matter what their level. It’s part of human nature for people to compare themselves to others and students are often the most guilty of trying to measure themselves against other classmates. A teacher can use several techniques and strategies for confidence building and hopefully keep them from comparing themselves to their peers. Encouraging students to do better on a test the next time can be a good way of getting students to compete against themselves and not their classmates. Part of the process could be emphasizing the testing by only showing them their own grades, maybe creating a chart to keep track of scores for their own record. A good teacher won’t put down or condemn a student for a low score on a test or homework.

Also read: Evaluation and Testing of Students in the ESL Classroom

Ways We Can Boost Confidence in Our Students

A teacher can give praise in the classroom or privately if an individual student is uncomfortable with attention. Giving a student the opportunity to speak more often with their peers can help many students. It might also help if the teacher creates study groups with students of different levels working together. It’s important that a teacher let a student continue talking when presenting to the class and while speaking with their peers and not to correct all mistakes on the spot. Often, peers will help with correction in a diplomatic matter. As the main authority in this setting, it’s important to remain positive to all students. They need to feel the teacher is on their side and therefore there to help them.

Also read: 5 Great Ways to Give Your Students Feedback

Every Classroom is Different

After evaluating a classroom via placement testing and diagnostics, a teacher can be more assured that they can help each student appropriately. A class of adult students will often have multi-levels of skills in one classroom, while a classroom full of younger students would more likely have many students with the same levels of English skills. Some students will thrive helping people who have lower skills than they do and will enjoy mentoring them, while others might be put off at having to always be helping those with a lesser skill level. If a teacher is able to, time wise, it would be good to find the right mix for a group for both studying in the classroom setting and outside class time. It will help with group projects to have varying skills mixed in a group. Many students do not like being put in groups, but if it’s a good mix of confident and more hesitant students, they are more likely to have a good outcome and feel positive about the project in the end.

Also read: All You Need to Know When Teaching Multi-Level ESL Classes

The Benefits of a Long Term Project

A good way to show how a student has grown over a year is to have a goal or a project they are aiming for from the beginning of the semester. This is a good way to show how much they have grown skillswise from the beginning of the year. This project can give them confidence once they have figured out they have progressed in a real and visible way. Recording students at the beginning and at the end of a semester might also be a fun way to show progress. When a teacher finds out what types of skills they will be working with, they are able to create lessons to help each level with appropriate ESA instruction and the final project due at the end of the year. Letting students choose what the project should be can also help build their self-worth as they will be more likely to be interested in the project and therefore more motivated to complete it. This project should also help a student find confidence in speaking with their peers.

Also read: 5 Simple Ways to Motivate Your EFL Students

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