Teach English in Qunfeng Zhen - Zhuzhou Shi

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How to Help Students Overcome Stress When They Learn English Learning a second language can be very difficult and stressful. This is especially true the older a second language learner is. One of the most important jobs that a teacher has is creating a classroom environment that is welcoming and comfortable. This is especially important for an ESL teacher, who is dealing with students that are completely out of their comfort zones. While some of these students may have had some exposure to the second language they’re learning, oftentimes they have no exposure. They are starting from square one. The first job an ESL teacher has is to create an environment in which students feel comfortable learning, making mistakes, helping others, etc. Approaches as simple as establishing rapport and giving clear instructions play a significant role in creating a low-stress classroom environment. Building rapport with students is one of the most effective methods of dispelling a stressful classroom environment. Building rapport is effective in two ways. First, establishing rapport between a teacher and a student(s) creates an environment for positive interactions between teachers and students. If the students have a positive perception of the teacher, they are more likely to enjoy the subject being taught. They are also more likely to put more effort into that subject by paying attention, participating, and studying. In addition, students are more likely to respect the teacher, which in turn leads to overall good classroom behavior. The teacher can effectively establish rapport with their students by simply smiling and having a positive demeanor. Being encouraging and showing personal interest in the students’ lives also helps establish rapport. The stress that comes from fear of a new environment, and fear of being called on to answer questions, diminishes significantly when rapport is established. Next, building rapport is effective in creating a student to student bond. Activities, such as ice breakers, can bring students together and make them more comfortable around each other. Eliciting information from students in a group setting allows them to get to know each other on a more personal level. Allowing students to work in pairs/groups gives them the opportunity to create bonds and further get to know each other, which otherwise may not have been likely. When students within a classroom form a bond, the peer pressure diminishes, which results in an enhanced learning experience for all students. Another effective method of helping students overcome stress when learning English is giving clear instructions. This seems simple enough but can be a bit challenging to a new ESL teacher. Delivery of classroom instructions can make or break a lesson. If instructions are not delivered clearly the students may become lost, unmotivated, and frustrated. It is important to use simple, concise language. The less, the better. Extra words are unnecessary and confusing to ESL learners. In addition to clear and concise language, visual cues and demonstrations provide extra assurance for those students who may be unsure about the instructions, but too nervous to raise their hands and ask for clarification. By gesturing, mimicking, and demonstrating students have extra confidence that they understood the instructions clearly. Once instructions have been delivered concisely and full of cues/demonstrations, the teacher can check students’ understanding of the instructions by simply asking students to explain the instructions back to them. Creating a positive learning environment is significant in helping students overcome the stress of second language learning. Learning a second language can be very stressful, especially for those learners who are older. Many ESL students have minimal, if any, experience with the second language. By establishing rapport with students, and between students, they become more comfortable and willing to interact with and explore the language. Giving clear instructions provides students the tools they need to embrace the language without fear or stress. It is for these reasons that the number one job of a teacher, especially an ESL teacher, is to create a classroom environment in which students feel comfortable enough to learn, make mistakes, and help others.