One thing many students of foreign language struggle with is the ability to comfortably use their foreign language. Students often feel uncomfortable with their accent, unsure about their vocabulary and pronunciation, and are hesitant to converse in their second language.
When teaching a second language, we can be very aware of that fact and keep in mind that our main goal needs to be to raise the confidence level of our students so they can effectively use their foreign language. How can we do this?
1. Understand their motives.
Why is your student learning a foreign language? Do they dream of travel? Do they want to read fluently in this language? Tailor the teaching to your students’ goals. For example, if your student plans to travel to it is essential to teach them basic phrases and vocabulary dealing with travel, food, and directions.
Not only will this raise their confidence, it will also increase their motivation, because they will see a direct link between what they are learning and how they can use it in their own life. They will feel good knowing they are learning the things they need to know.
2. Provide consistent opportunities to practice.
Allow your student to use real world situations to learn the language as much as possible. Beyond the textbook, facilitate conversations and interactions with native speakers whenever possible.
Listening to podcasts or watching television shows in the foreign language also provides a great opportunity to hear the spoken language and work on comprehension skills. The more students listen to the language, the more they will understand, and this will help increase their confidence in the language.
3. Being understood is the goal—not perfection.
As teachers, it can be easy to want to correct each mistake. But if we remember that the goal of language is to be understood, we can focus on helping our students reach that goal. Students will feel more confident when they know they are getting their point across, without having to worry about being perfect in accent or even grammar.