Teach English in WangfAng Zhen - Zhuzhou Shi

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Learning a foreign language can be a very stressful thing and it’s certain that all language learners struggle with it to some degree eventually. While some stress can be useful as a form of motivation, too much and the student may simply shut down their receptiveness the language altogether. That’s why it’s important for ESL instructors to have ways and strategies to help students cope with this stress. Having a good rapport with and among the students, good group management, lesson planning, and being mindful of over-corrections are all things a teacher can do to help students overcome their stress while learning English. Having a good rapport with their teacher and classmates will help students feel less stressed as they learn English. Teachers can establish rapport in many ways but some key points are to be positive and always look as though you are having fun; be personable and approachable and get to know your students. A teacher should try to learn and use student names whenever possible, and they should try to learn what their students are interested in. If a teacher knows and incorporates student interests into their lessons, the students will find it more enjoyable which will help to reduce their stress. Once a teacher has established some rapport with students, they should also be able to better group manage the class. It’s important that teachers try to recognize which students do not get along together since pairing these students up will only cause unnecessary stress. Pairing students up with their friends, or at least with neutral classmates, will help reduce students’ stress, though it’s important to remember that if students are too friendly it may lead to disruptions to the class in other ways and create different forms of stress. Another way teachers can help students overcome the stress of English learning is to carefully structure their lessons. Various techniques can be used that will reduce student stress. One example is to start out a day’s lesson with a brief warm up activity. This will help the students relax and give them time to prepare to use English before the target lesson of the day is introduced. The ESA methodology uses warm up activities as a part of the engage phase. Another example of using lesson structure to reduce stress is by planning a variance of whole-class, individual, and group/pair work in class. Different students experience stress over different things. One student might stress over the thought of doing an assignment alone, while another might prefer solo work over the stress of potentially making a mistake in front of their classmates. It’s impossible for all students to be comfortable all the time, but by varying activities a teacher can try to prevent them from being uncomfortable all time which will reduce their stress. Finally, teachers can also help students avoid and overcome stress by being mindful of over-correcting the students’ mistakes. Students often stress about giving the wrong answer or looking stupid in front of their classmates and therefore can lack the confidence to even attempt to answer a question for fear of making even a small mistake. A student might shut down completely and refuse to even participate or try to learn if over-corrected. Therefore, it’s important for teachers to give students a chance to simply use English. The activate stage of the ESA methodology emphasizes this, but it’s important for all EFL teachers to remember this regardless of whether they use this methodology or not. After all, if a student is able to communicate their meaning, even imperfectly, to another person in English it will boost their confidence, and having confidence is a great way for students to overcome their stress. There are many challenges that come with learning foreign languages and just as many sources of stress. Learning to deal with that stress is a part of any EFL student’s education. Some stress will be unavoidable but teachers can and should so what they can the alleviate as much of that stress as possible through their rapport with students, their use of good group management and lesson planning, and being mindful of over-corrections. The less stress a student experiences, the more receptive he or she will be to the lesson and to the English language as a whole.