It is our role as teachers to instill a fruitful learning atmosphere. However, how can we build a learning environment in which adult students will lower their affective filter, generate rapport and blossom? Here are my top beliefs.
1. Personalize your classes by giving examples using what you know about your students. Instead of saying, “John wakes up at 7.00”, why not change John for the name of a student in class? Much more meaningful and inductive, besides showing they are important for you.
2. Believe your students can be fluent. They are there because they believe and when they believe they work harder. So do you. When you believe your students can make it, you will start thinking of ways to help them improve their learning process and this might make them trust you.
3. Provide students with meaningful feedback on how they can improve their English or the best practice for them to be a successful language learner. Show them you care.
4. Praise your students even for little achievements. Show them you’re taking their improvement into account. Tell them you know they can do it, and when they get there, make sure you point it out. This way they will see that you are attentive to their progress.
5. Be a Role Model for your student. Students usually look up to the teacher, so don’t speak Portuguese. The moment you resort to Portuguese to explain something, you’re allowing them to do the same. Challenge students to understand and communicate using the English they have.
6. Sympathize with your students. It’s not easy to learn a new language at adulthood. It takes a long time for you to be in control of your life, and then when you start learning a language, you don’t have a voice. How frustrating is it? Show understanding and encourage them to keep on track.
7. Share your story too. Let your students know about yourself. Illustrate an explanation with examples of your life too. They want to feel you are approachable and, luckily, there can be some interaction too.
8. Value their expertise – let your students show their expertise in their field. It can be something simple like explaining how easy stand up paddle is, for example, but let them feel valued and show they can collaborate too.
9. Lighthearted classes are fun, time flies and you want to be there again. Make your students have a good time with the right mix of responsibility and humor. A friendly atmosphere engages learners.
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