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04 April 2018

How to Teach Confidence | A Guide to Efficient Communication

Us teachers are getting excited seeing our students grow and develop. Observing their speaking, listening, and reading improve over time gives us the sort of joy one cannot put a price on. While most teachers focus on honing the aforementioned skills in their students, many overlook one crucial aspect every student needs in order to make full use of the skills he or she has learned – confidence.

Confidence: being able to put into practice the language skills they have learnt in the classroom and apply it in the real world.

After speaking with several of my students I have compiled a list of reasons they tend to find it difficult to express themselves. This includes even some of the most advanced and seasoned students:

  • Having to think before speaking
  • Not sure they will be understood
  • Cannot find the words quickly enough
  • Afraid they may appear foolish
  • Speaking in front of an audience/crowd can prove challenging
  • Peer pressure
  • Not happy with the way they sound
  • Cultural Differences (accents)

In other words, they are “getting stuck in paralysis by analysis” (over-thinking the situation).

Confidence – Do we build it – Or can we teach it?

They say the five building blocks to Confidence are:

Needs, Knowledge, Degrees of Success, Facing Challenges and Belief!

We will now be breaking this down and relating it to language learning.

Needs and Knowledge have already been established otherwise they would not be taking the lessons. Knowledge is acquired during the lessons so we are left with Facing Challenges and Belief.

Let us first look at how one should overcome any language challenges.

The Classroom Environment:

Simple exercises and drills need to be expanded upon for example.

Reading Out Loud

The students are able to listen and become familiar with the sound of their own voices – here is an opportunity for intonation and pronunciation correction.  Speech pacing, knowing how and when to slow down, and how to make use of proper breathing techniques can go a long way. So don’t be ashamed to read out-loud! If you don’t know what to read – give Eats Shoots & Leaves a try – a great book that focuses on English punctuation in an original and unique style.

Role Playing

This allows the student to use the language in a safe and familiar environment. Make sure that it relates to their current requirements e.g. Business English, Telephone Skills, Small Talk, Presentations to name a few – works well with groups. It’s like using the language in a sandbox when an occasional mistake is not a dealbreaker.

Realia:

This is a learning technique that uses real-life objects that may hold some personal value for the student. The student is then asked to describe the item in the language they are currently learning. So have the student bring an item that holds some meaning for them, but do not pre-teach vocabulary; make this part of the student’s presentation. They will love to talk about something that they are familiar with.

Shorter Sentences and Word Chunks

Encourage students to use shorter sentences when communicating that way they do not find themselves going down that proverbial “Alice in Wonderland Rabbit-hole when trying to express what they are trying to communicate. Try to make them understand not to overemphasize and to make good use of the words they already have in their “kit-bag”. This is especially important in business situations when one party is aiming to impress the other with their extensive knowledge of business english. Students should only use complex sentences and phrases if it makes it easier for them for to convey their thoughts.

The External Environment

Real-Life Experience:

I ask my students to get themselves outside of their comfort zone at least once a week – and apply what they have learned either in a face-to-face or a telephone situation. I ask them to bring these experiences back into the classroom – where we can discuss in detail what was successful or unsuccessful. (ask them to keep notes if possible)

Recording

Ask the student record their voice that way that can hear the way they sound – and this would help them work on pacing, intonation, pronunciation.  The recording then can be played in the classroom and used for further discussion and analysis.

TV or Radio – English

This is probably going to be the most popular choice for most students. Have the student pick a TV show or song that they relate to or enjoy the most and ask them to bring in some key phrases/words that are used and act out the part. We have gotten amazing feedback with this technique.

In Conclusion

Belief comes from within, and it is vital we provide the necessary understanding, empathy and support that the language learner needs both inside/outside the classroom and this is key to molding students who are articulate and as confident as possible. I believe it is not only our job to teach a language using those four major building blocks but we need to add a fifth.

This Fifth block (Confidence) is the one that is the most overlooked and forgotten. However I do believe by taking time and applying some of the activities mentioned above, we can be well on our way to establishing and encouraging confidence.

Let us ensure we are creating students who are willing to Speak, Listen, Read and Write with confidence!

We are proud to say that here at SIMON & SIMON we are using modern techniques not only to teach you how to speak a foreign language, but to do so confidently. Contact Simon & Simon today to find out more about our courses and our language learning locations across Central London and beyond. Whatever your training requirements, we can tailor our wide range of language courses, including EnglishFrench, and German, to fit the unique needs of your business.

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