Environment Affects our Language

Our Environment affects our language, as teachers, the type of environments we create in our classrooms will really affect the way our students can acquire language. Most EFL teachers, those teachers who are teaching English in a country where English is not the first language, face the challenge of how to maximize language exposure.

DSC00822The amount of English we can expose our students to, the better they will acquire the language. Of course, in a country where your students speak their native tongue at home and with friends, it becomes the teacher’s responsibility to create a space where students can be bombarded with English in various ways.

There are various ways to give our students a whole language education, one where they can practice all the facets of language: writing, reading, speaking, and listening. Another major factor of language not mentioned here is culture. Culture plays a large role in making an environment that’s conducive for acquiring a language.

As we all know, every student has different interests and reason for learning a language. When teaching younger students a majority of the time their reason will be the same, their parents are forcing them to learn. This may cause feelings of boredom or disinterests, but this doesn’t mean we can’t engage them in meaningful ways.

This leads to my first topic:

Passion

Use a variety of methods to expose English to your students. Finding a student’s passion will enable us as teachers to find proper teaching materials. Perhaps one student is interested in sports, while another is interested in art. Find a way to integrate these things into your lessons.

Students, like most everyone else, enjoy learning about things in which they have a genuine interest – these things help motivate students to learn. The difference between a motivated and unmotivated student plays a huge factor in their acquisition of language.

Finding age-appropriate, authentic, and genuine material surrounding topics they want to learn about will lead to a much more engaged classroom.

Without this passion or desire for learning our job as teachers become much more challenging, like pulling teeth at times (we’ve all been there). Talk with your students, get to know what their interests are and use those interests to your advantage and, in turn, theirs.

Classroom

Your classroom is your temple. It’s your temple for learning and interacting with your students. If you are able to decorate your classroom, do it! Put up English words and sentences around the room. Decorate the room with English.

Posters and pictures that allow students to take in parts of the English-speaking world’s culture inadvertently affects a student’s language acquisition. With visual cues to what this culture is about students can feel a deeper connection with what they are learning and where this language comes from.

If you have the option of putting your students work on the walls – pictures, artwork, essays – this is a great way for students to feel proud of their accomplishments. It gives them more motivation to continue working and even to see the progress of their own work.

Make your classroom as “English” as possible. These classroom factors contribute to the whole acquisition of language.

Teacher-Student Relationships

Get to know your students. I firmly believe that teachers are teachers first and friends second, but we can still be friendly with our students. Get to know them and who they are. Once we can find out what makes our students tick we can begin to understand how to teach them.

I like to take free time during class to just have friendly, no-pressure conversations with my students. I tend to ask about their days, what they did over the weekend, what their favorite games are, and I always like to ask why.

Often, this is the question students have the most trouble answering, especially younger students; however, if we can dig to that deeper level we can find that magic motivation.

As Confucius, one of the greatest educators once said: 因材施教. Teach students according to their aptitude and suit the instruction to the students level. If we accomplish this as teachers we ensure the education of all those we teach.

 

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