How To Encourage Your Students to Overcome Stress and Speak Out in English
Expressing ourselves in a language that it is not our native language could be for most students frustrating and intimidating, especially when they are in a room full of people and there is a fear to be judged by peers and their teacher who is carefully listening to them; these feelings are the ones that stress out and hold down students, preventing them from participating in class, and as a consequence they do not practice and learn English efficiently. There could be many reasons for students to stress in the classroom, some students may simply be shy, some may be afraid to make mistakes and others may just lack English knowledge and vocabulary to express their ideas.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Dayana M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
This situation represents not only an obstacle for the students to learn but it may also be an obstacle for teachers to interact with the class and developing their studentsâ English-speaking skills. In a Classroom, teachers will always find motivated and unmotivated students, usually motivated students tend to participate and be active during class, however, there might be times when even the motivated students become passive. Therefore, this whole situation brings us to the question: how do we overcome stress and make our students speak out in English?
Motivation should be one of the first things we need to have in mind, it is the first step to ensure to keep the studentsâ attention. In any case, before motivating others, teachers should start by motivating themselves and being able to inspire students by having a positive attitude and showing enthusiasm as they teach, these simple actions can really make a difference in class and make students feel comfortable in a safe environment where they know they can share their ideas and thoughts to help with the lesson and their learning process, they know their contribution matters, the teacher will be listening to them carefully and full of enthusiasm.
Another idea we can apply for this purpose is to add laughter to the classroom. Saying something funny or strange any time during the lesson to break the ice and make students smile is always a good idea, it reduces the stress level among the students, it improves the class atmosphere by changing the energy and dynamic between teacher-student interaction, and this way we also create a friendly environment for students to participate and speak out in class.
It is very common to find passive students who do not even try to speak out in English, it is because of their fear to make mistakes, in this case, we can build up their self-esteem in class by asking them easy question that we know they will be able to answer so that these students would feel good about their answers and as a consequence feel more confident of their English speaking skills. Incorporating compliments is definitively a great way to encourage students too, a healthy dose of praise works very well for all students, teachers should always praise their efforts, even when grammatical errors are made, we can correct them later.
Also Read: 4 Essential Tools For Teaching ESL Online
Finally, when we are trying to create an adequate friendly environment for our students, somewhere they can feel free and confident to talk, we could also try to discuss topics and issues that generate their interest, many topics could be used for this matter, even when they may sound a little strange or controversial, this will only encourage students to give their opinions by speaking fluently.
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