For any teacher, it is essential to create an environment, where students are given the freedom to explore, make mistakes, and along the way, learn to speak a new language. Most of them can relate to the scenario, where they stand in front of the students and ask a question. However, instead of raising their hands and answering, students further sink down into their chairs. Many of them are anxious, while others are in a daze. Such a situation creates a sense of disappointment and frustration among the teachers.
Every student feels self-conscious and anxious about speaking a new language in front of their teacher and peers. However, this situation can be overcome in a certain amount of time. Implementing the right strategies and practicing properly, students can hone their skills in foreign languages. The below-mentioned techniques can help to increase the participation of students in world language classes.
Creating a Positive and Friendly Environment
The very first step should be to make sure that students are given the opportunity to explore themselves, their strengths, and weaknesses. Creating a comfortable environment will help them to open up and make more efforts to contribute aloud. While learning a new language, students will make mistakes, which prove that they are putting their efforts to learn. Supporting the students by giving them a chance of self-correction will bear positive results. Moreover, ignoring the errors will not bring any solution, especially if it hinders communication. Teachers can guide students in such a way that encourages them to keep trying.
If a student is confused regarding constructing a sentence and does not know how to proceed, teachers can provide a response and sentence starter. Smiling and behaving positively will encourage the students to pursue the class properly. Teachers can create a non-threatening environment by greeting the students as they enter the classroom, and kick start the day on a positive note. Sharing lighthearted jokes and giving positive reinforcement, like complementing students for performing well in the classroom, can act as a motivational factor.
Compelling Photos can Inspire Students
This strategy helps teachers to identify the speaking opportunities offered to the students. It will help them to figure out if students are exposed to convincing study materials. Teachers can start off by asking basic questions like, ‘What did you do this weekend?’ or ‘What activity would you like to carry out in your free time?’. Such questions may encourage the students to speak, but they may not be compelling enough, culturally relevant, or inspiring. They may not lead to an open participative discussion and the surface-level questions may fall flat. They may even be predictable and unimaginative and may not inspire any creativity or critical thinking.
For better outcomes, teachers can collect real-life pictures of the target culture, which will help students to achieve a close connection with the subject matter. Taking aid of the internet to gather information relevant to the topic can be helpful. For example, information about foreign culture, family structures and traditions, volunteerism, and so on can assist the teachers to deliver the classroom sessions effectively, that too, with a personal touch. Although it may take some time to arrange for such sessions, it will definitely turn worthwhile. Authentic photos of any culture will allow the teachers to introduce many rich discussion points like after watching a picture, what do the students feel about it, and the reaction it inspires in them. They can be asked to describe the first thing that they noticed in the picture and its connection with the current unit of study. The mentioned examples prove that photographs and pictures can be used in endless ways as a cultural tool in terms of foreign language education.
Appealing Videos can Bear Wonderful Results
Similar to the pictures, video clips provide more scope for more student responses, which can lead to improved classroom discussions. Video clips are often associated with listening comprehension, but they can also be used as talking points. Contents like news and advertisements from social video sharing sites can be viewed in any language.
After the session, teachers can ask various questions to the students regarding their thoughts after watching the clip, the part they found most informative, whether they liked the clip or not, and why. Teachers should make sure that they formulate questions based on the projected clip and ask a series of questions to the students to ensure a lasting experience. These clips are useful for students, as they do not have to make an additional contribution to an open-ended question. They share their experiences on what they just watched, which in turn will help students to leave their comfort zones and resume active participation in the class.
Encouraging the Students to Dig Deeper
The primary responsibility of the teacher is to spend more time with the students listening to them speak and engaging with them. If they extend their speaking time by asking more questions to students, it will be more beneficial to them. For example, in the classroom, if the student shares their opinion about a video clip shown at class, teachers can ask them why they hold that opinion, or what factors are responsible for their perspective.
Being specific to the problem can produce better results; if a student expresses their understanding of a photo, teachers can ask them what specific aspects are behind their impression. Specific questions can stimulate quick understanding. Moreover, it is essential to encourage students to explain their thought process, which enhances their awareness of learning and supporting their involvement. This also provides them the scope to further use the language, which, in turn, prepares them to converse in an actual context.
We all know that real-life conversations are two-sided and they keep evolving. It is of utmost importance for teachers to emulate the same among the students so that they can learn to speak any foreign language. Speaking more and often will boost their confidence, and lead them to better results, within and beyond the classroom.
-Ananda Kamal Das