8 SIMPLE WAYS TO ENCOURAGE YOUR STUDENTS
They say they will never be able to get it right. They may put so much pressure on themselves that they become paralyzed in the English classroom. They may be so frustrated they may be on the verge of quitting all together. They wonder how they can encourage and motivate their students.
What is going on with your students? They need encouragement. It is natural for any and all ESL students to struggle in their English studies at one point or another, and the struggle often has nothing whatsoever to do with test scores. When a person is trying to learn a foreign language, and particularly if they are studying overseas, immersion in English can get overwhelming. If left unchecked, this feeling of frustration can have damaging effects on your students’ psyches as well as their academic performance, but frustration doesn’t have to be the victor. When your students are hitting that discouragement roadblock, you can help clear the way. With simple acts of encouragement you will find that your students go from yuck to yay in no time at all! Here are some ways you can encourage your students today.
1. Give Positive Feedback
Praising your students is one of the most effective and easiest ways to lift their spirits, encourage them and keep them working hard. Teachers who excel at praising their students do it publically as well as privately, both verbally and in writing. They send notes home to parents (when appropriate) and have special events during school to recognize the achievements of their students.
2. Set Realistic Expectations and Celebrate When They are Met
Your students don’t have to be optimists to set unrealistic goals and expectations for themselves. No one can become fluent after only one semester studying English. And when those same students fail to meet those out of the water goals, they get discouraged. Sometimes the best thing for your students is for you to be a voice of reason. Help them understand what realistic progress looks like, and work with them to set goals that are challenging but still reachable. When students meet these goals, take time to celebrate their achievements.
3. Let Your Own Excitement Come Through
Excitement is contagious, and showing your students that you are happy to be with them and guide them on their English journey will make a difference in how they view your class. Be energetic. Be creative. Have fun, and let your students see those positive feelings on a daily basis. When they see how excited you are to be teaching English to them, they will be more excited to learn it from you!
4. Vary Your Teaching Methods
Little in the classroom is worse than doing the same thing day after day. When you vary what you do in class, you will find that your students are more engaged and more excited to participate. In particular, when you vary your activities to meet your students’ different learning styles, they will not only have fun but will find your teaching more effective. Try to include visual activities and oral activities. Use music and hands on activities on a regular basis. Give your students a chance to use their hands and get physical with what you are teaching. Give them time to work with others as well as individually. You will find that when you meet your students’ learning styles, they will be more encouraged about what they are learning.
5. Facilitate Don’t Dominate
For some of us teachers, it is easy to dominate the classroom and the conversation with our students. Anyone who teachers has to work well with people and be comfortable with public speaking, but sometimes we go too far. If you are talking more than your students are in class, you should probably think about stepping back and letting them do more of the communicating. When students play a more active role in class and in their education, they learn faster, better and with a better attitude. The simple act of letting them talk more will boost the spirits of frustrated students.
6. Make Topics Practical
Theory is all find and dandy, but when it has no basis in reality some may ask what the point is. Whenever you can, make your English lessons practical. Use real life English materials and give your students realistic scenarios. Make a point of creating opportunities for them to use the English they are learning with native speakers. You can include conversation partners in class or send your students out on creative fieldtrips around your campus. When your students see that what they are learning is practical and useful, they will be motivated to learn more.
7. Show Students Their Own Successes
Even if you make goal setting a part of your classroom activities and review them periodically, some students may still need you to point out their successes. When you see students making improvements or hear of the accomplishments they have made, make a point of noticing. More than that, tell them what you see, what they have achieved and that they should be proud. Making positive observations is more than just praising your students. It is pointing out when they achieve things they don’t even see as progress.
8. Get Out of the Book
Text books are great, and getting out of them every once in a while is even greater. Encourage your students to use the English they are learning by giving them credit for things they do outside the classroom. Build it into your grading scale or give extra credit for real life language usage. Ask students to share when they strike up a conversation with a stranger, successfully give directions to a cab driver, read and fill out applications written in English as well as any of a number of other activities. If you like, make these type of real life language use assignments for class, and your students are sure to get a lift when they accomplish them.
The best teachers do more than teach.
They encourage their students and act as cheerleaders for them along the language learning highway. Every ESL student needs a pick me up every once in a while, and when you make it a habit to encourage your students, they will have just what they need from you just when they need it.