Teach English in Jiaoxie Zhen - Nantong Shi

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I love learning and want to share that love of learning with others. This was my main reason for becoming a teacher, continuing to teach and always finding ways to improve. I really enjoy helping others be the best they can be. I feel my biggest strength as a teacher is encouraging and motivating my students to want to learn and succeed and never embarrassing or shaming a student under any circumstances, even inadvertently. This seems rather obvious when stated, but it amazes me how many times I have witnessed a blow to a student’s confidence with just a tone of voice, a look or other negative body language from a teacher. I believe the attitude of the teacher can make or break a student’s confidence. This course touched on this throughout various units, specifically in unit 5. It stated, “...for a class to be able to learn effectively the teacher must be able to inspire confidence in the students.” There is a good chance, especially with adult learners, that they are going to be a little apprehensive and even insecure about the class in the beginning regardless of how much they want to learn English. I have had adult students tell me they think something is wrong with their memory because their children pick up English so quickly while they are struggling to retain the basics. As a teacher, (and a parent) I know that children learn things more quickly and tend to retain information easier and faster than adults. How would students know if no one told them or they had not learned this? It was mentioned at points throughout the course, and clearly stated in Unit 3 that, “anxiety and stress need to be low for effective language learning.” In an EFL classroom situation, again if the students are primarily adults, they are usually there because they want to be. This still presents different levels of insecurities (and strengths) for the students. I believe that focusing on both will build their confidence. Encourage and play on their strengths and address the insecurities in a subtle way that they may not even realize their insecurities are being addressed or noticed. This automatically excludes any chance for nit-picking or over-correcting which to me is an immediate blow to someone’s confidence level. With that said, there are many ways to build confidence and maintain it consistently throughout the EFL course and classroom. Games, including things like gesturing and miming, are a great way to build confidence in students. Games act as an ice breaker as no one will be sitting still. It will also show that the teacher doesn’t take herself too seriously making her more approachable and personable. It’s a fantastic way to set the tone for the entire lesson and sets the students at ease and allows them to have some fun and let down their guard. If the students can laugh and shake off some of the outside world, they tend to be more receptive. Infusing humor in games and as many aspects in the lessons as appropriate, also tends to make people feel more comfortable and get them talking. Humor is a great way to incorporate confidence in conversation! This also sets the tone for the teacher being positive. Laughter usually immediately increases motivation by the students that were more reluctant to participate. Ultimately this leads to having more fun in the classroom! Learning and using the names of all the students is also a great way to instill confidence in them. It gives them a feeling of personal attention and also equality among them regardless of their level of English, hence no one is ignored or favored. This partners with building rapport with the students. The more comfortable and confident they feel, the more willing they will be to learn and participate. This also provides the teacher with the perfect opportunity to show interest in her students by getting to know them and what they are interested in. This can provide the teacher with ideas for future teaching topics the students are interested in and can relate to. Another sure fire way to build confidence in students is practicing patience. I think the old adage, “Patience is a virtue” is what every teacher should aspire to have as much as possible, although at times this may be much easier said than done. If the teacher acts impatient, or as if they know everything, it may appear to the students as annoyance and send the message the teacher just does not want to be there. This can kill student confidence before the class even begins. Finally, one of the most important things which encompasses all of the above points and what I found to be a common theme in the overall course for building student confidence, is to be prepared and adaptable. What better way to instill confidence in students of any age? Always have plenty for the students to do whether it ends up being used or not. Not every class will run like clockwork (if any class would!) and being adaptable and flexible, sometimes on the spot, is the key to confidence and success in students. Focus on what they struggle with, what they want to learn without sacrificing the basics and this will ensure a positive, fun and educational environment. Encourage what aspects of English they excel in and help fine tune these skills. Hopefully they will learn and remember what a great experience learning English, or continuing to learn English was/is. It will also build my confidence as a teacher. I will be learning right along with them by trial and error and how to better educate while building their confidence and either nurture their love of learning or instill a sense of a love of learning in them.