A big part of success in language learning depends on a positive attitude. Students who consider the learning of English as a positive and rewarding experience are less likely to suffer from foreign language anxiety. They usually have higher levels of motivation, willingness to participate, and high language performance. In this article, we will present a number of factors that foster a positive attitude among learners and suggest practical tips to develop that attitude.
- 1. Teacher behaviour
As the teacher’s role is very important in the overall learning process, he/she needs to show a positive attitude towards learning by being friendly with students, implementing the student-centred approach, caring for students’ needs and showing a willingness to answer their questions. The use of humour, calling students by their first names, using non-verbal tools to motivate (smile, eye-contact, etc.) play an important role in building s positive attitude.
- 2. Allocate enough time to answering the question
Try to answer all the students’ questions. As learners’ learning speed is different, the teacher needs to show patience while listening to answers from students and show support by giving clues, reformulating the question or the task, etc.
- 3. Don’t judge by past failures in language learning
In most of the cases, students lack motivation and self-esteem because of previous failures(low grades, failing exams, etc). Find out the reasons and then communicate to all students that you expect all students to be successful, regardless of previous performance. You need to make them understand that they will start everything anew, and you will help them with your continuous support.
Positive Classroom atmosphere
The establishment of a supportive and kind team is very important especially for the learners of a foreign language in order to communicate freely. These techniques will help to create a friendly, non-threatening classroom climate:
- 1. Avoid excessive, “on the spot” correction while freer speaking practice
This will surely discourage students from speaking up and using the target language.
- 2. In writing tasks, show them the place of the mistake rather than point to the mistake itself
Your role as a teacher is to show the place and type of mistakes. When you give the student his/her writing with many corrections, they get disappointed. For them, it is better to try to find the mistakes on their own. In this way, they will have a feeling of accomplishment. Moreover, it would be quite motivating to highlight the usage of good grammar patterns or relevant use of vocabulary and praise students for good work.
- 3. Set strict behavioral rules
For example, making fun of anybody in the classroom, pointing out to the wrong answer, make it clear to all students that ridiculing a wrong answer, not completing homework, or misbehaving is not acceptable behaviour.
- 4. Establish a set of classroom rules and enforce them fairly and consistently with all students
For example, make it clear to all students that ridiculing a wrong answer, not completing homework, or misbehaving is not acceptable behavior.
- 5. Arrange collaborative/group work in the classroom
Group works create a relaxed classroom atmosphere during which students use their collaborative skills to complete the task. These kinds of activities will help students feel that their language output is not constantly assessed, hence, they are more likely to participate and focus on communication, rather than on accuracy.
Some Other Useful Tips
- Materials about the country/culture
Boost your students’ curiosity. You can bring to the classroom a number of English books so that students can borrow them to get familiarized with English culture and history. Posters are also a great tool to raise students interest in the country/language,
- Authentic materials
In many cases students lose their interest in the language because of the lack of appropriate authentic learning materials. The teacher must bear in mind that the selected material must correspond to the learners’ needs, interests and knowledge. When with the help of those materials students talk, practice the target language they develop a positive attitude towards the learning process.
Find out more about creating a supportive language learning environment in the video below
All the above-mentioned factors play a crucial role in boosting students’positive attitudes towards learning a foreign language. However, the implementation of only one factor wouldn’t be enough for the final result, it should be the combination of several of them and vary from class to class depending on the learners’ needs, abilities and interests.