(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1Ni1nWi)
Getting inside the head of an ESL student is extremely important for all teachers and even other ESL students so that we can understand the biggest issues for some learners.
Particularly looking at the Asian students, the whole idea of speaking is for some so terrifying it is as if they feel like if they were to speak they would……die!
There is more than shyness going on here though. Yes some people are shy and we need to be aware of that, but what we also need to be aware of is understanding that feeling so we can egg them on in the right way.
Imagine yourself that you have a fear of say…..spiders. (Not poisonous ones, ones that won’t do anything to you other than run away as fast as they can) What is it that makes you scared of spiders?
It could be:
- They are so small and can run too fast
- If they were to run they could run up my trouser leg and bite me
- I don’t know if they are poisonous or not
- Just the look of them and their hairy legs gives me the creeps
- I’m going to die because I will do something stupid and not be able to handle myself
Okay, there are a few points. So now let’s dissect these points on fears of spiders and see if we can relate it to a fear of speaking English:
|Fear of Spiders||Basic Problem||(Equivalent reaction) Fear of speaking English|
|Spiders are so small and can run too fast||Fear of what is known||English is so difficult|
|If the spider runs it could run up my trouser leg and bite me||Fear of taking a risk||Someone might ask me something I can’t answer|
|I don’t know if it is poisonous or not||Fear of the unknown||I don’t know and understand English|
|Their hairy legs gives me the creeps||Fear of failure||It just looks hard|
|I’m going to die because I will do something stupid and not be able to handle myself||Fear of looking stupid||If I open my mouth I will say something stupid and wrong|
Now that we have broken the problem down into the different fears that are going on inside the person’s mind, we can address the fears with responses like
|Fear of what is known||Observe what it is and accept it|
|Fear of taking a risk||Think of the worst possible thing that could happen and confront it and be at peace with it|
|Fear of the unknown||Think of the worst possible thing that could happen and confront it and be at peace with it|
|Fear of failure||Think of the worst possible thing that could happen and confront it and be at peace with it|
|Fear of looking stupid||Think of the worst possible thing that could happen and confront it and be at peace with it|
The repetition of the solutions is on purpose as you can see. It all comes down to the same thing. And the way you get over it? Be brave, confront it, accept it and be at peace with it.
This world is moving very fast right now and if you want to be left behind that is fine, but if you really want to keep up and get the most out of your life, this is where you start – be at peace with it.