Many ESL teachers and researchers agree: when students are nervous or upset, they do not learn well. (Some very famous theories are by Stephen Krashen. This is a link to a good resource.)
Everybody’s situation is different. For some people, being relaxed comes easily. For others, they naturally worry for no good reason. For others, they have hundreds of reasons to be upset.
Here are some ideas for a more relaxed mindset in the classroom. Do you see any ideas here you could use?
- Accept mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody.
- Love mistakes. Really. They show us what to practice.
- Be curious. What is that word? What does that phrase mean? Can you understand me?
- Care about the process. You can’t make yourself learn fast. But you can make many good decisions. You can read five days a week. You can listen on your way to work. Focus on what you can control.
- Care about progress. Yes, you want to be fluent. But that is a big goal. Think of smaller goals to be proud of, too. Can you use public transit? Successfully ask for directions? Get help at a store? Invite a friend over?
These ideas can make learning a language less scary. Being less scared helps us learn better.
And to all of the many language learners facing stress, sadness, frustration, low confidence, and anxiety: I wish you happiness and peace.