Ways to Encourage ESL Students: Common Fears and Challenges
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Michela C. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
I’m afraid of making a mistake
You are in a classroom with people that have the same level of linguistic skills as you and your teacher is there to help you, not to judge you. Mistakes are part of learning, you can’t be fluent without making mistakes.
But it’s too difficult/easy
Nothing is too difficult or too easy! Try to learn whatever you can during your lessons, sometimes you can think it’s boring revising grammar structures because you already know it…believe me, revision lessons are a good opportunity to revise and reinforce your knowledge. Put in all the effort that you can and nothing will be too difficult.
I’m very shy/insecure
Some students told me “when I have to speak my heart starts pounding” or “I feel my hands wet with sweat”. The only way to master a language is to face your fear and try!
How will I know if I’m getting better?
As in all things, the perception of your improvements takes an internal strategy (positive psychology or self-esteem) and an external strategy (a course, for example). Positive thoughts are important to learn new things and you did the right thing …you chose the best English Course ever! Your teacher is going to make you aware of your improvements, and will often comment on the things that you’re doing right.
What can I do to be a good student?
First of all: follow your teacher’s advice! Try to attend your course with a motivated attitude that allows you to give a good effort constantly. I have noticed that the motivation you need to learn a new language, which is a big change, counts for more than 80% of the performance. The same goes for many things, in the sport, for example, Cristiano Ronaldo trains 10 hours a day to be the best!
Of course, allowing mistakes in class is a great idea. But it doesn’t address specifically how to have your students speak English, it just provides an environment where your students can speak English.
students are more motivated when they feel successful. Often as teachers, we feel that we need to challenge our students and give them tasks that will require them to work very hard to succeed. But sometimes it can be very helpful to give them tasks that they can accomplish without too much difficulty and then feel a sense of pride in what they’ve done.
One important thing is that Teachers must insist on speaking English in the classroom and never give up. Another important thing is to create reasons why they may want to speak on. Teachers should choose a real topic that students talk about their daily life or any topic which is interesting to talk about. When students are mentally and cognitively engaged the speaking needs may emerge. In other words, teachers should think about provocative sentences – questions to start a conversation in the class.
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Allow students to assume ‘new’ identities in the classroom. Role-playing takes the pressures off of students in their linguistic performance, and it allows them to separate their language skills from their identities (since there are students who can communicate quite fluently in English but, at times, choose not to). Some students may eventually find that it’s easier for them to express and communicate in another language when they’re ‘actors’ in that language. (very similar to what teachers do in the classroom)
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