Tips To Engage “Reluctant” Students Into the ESL Class

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In addition to individual learning ability, students' personality will also affect their classroom performance. Shyness, anxiety or lack of self-confidence make some students even afraid to speak to their peers in public, let alone speak in a second foreign language in the ESL class.

For such "reluctant" students, the most important thing you need as a teacher is to help students restrain anxiety, overcome fear and improve confidence.


[Recommended Reading: Tips to Help Introverted Students in Your Class


Create learning activities based on students’ interests

People are usually willing to participate in activities that interest them. Most shy students do not like to discuss their hobbies with a group of people, which makes them feel exposed and lose their sense of security. Therefore, teachers can chat with them individually, find out the topics they are interested in, and organize related classroom activities, such as reading, writing, music and games.


Keep it casual

Try not to let students do things that are stressful, such as asking a student to read the text aloud in class, which may make them worry about whether they will make mistakes in front of others and be laughed at. On the contrary, stay casual in the classroom, choose a topic, and let students discuss freely to master some necessary words and grammar knowledge, which can reduce anxiety and improve relax participation.


Adjust group size and match

Some classroom activities require a large group to complete the task, such as a role play may need 6-10 students to cooperate; but activities such as topic discussions, a small team is better. Due to time constraints, students who are shy and "reluctant" can easily find excuses not to speak in a large discussion group. On the contrary, small groups (2-3 people) require each student to participate in the discussion and take turns expressing their opinions makes those students have to step out of their comfort zone and join the discussion.

Don't let shy students form a group, otherwise the group may face the threat of silence. The team needs outgoing and self-confident members to become "inciters", inspiring the inspiration of those silent students, and ignite their enthusiasm for discussion.


Find tips outside of textbooks

Textbooks are an important tool for learning language rules, but they are not the best materials for oral speaking learning.

Teachers can use flashcards, building blocks, pictures, and even items brought by students from home to create more personal conversations. Personal communication will reduce students' anxiety and make them more willing to get involved in the classroom.





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