Speaking: why is it so hard for students?

Ever since I started studying English I've been noticing how hard it is for students to communicate effectively in English. Why are they embarrassed to speak in a foreign language? Why don't they feel comfortable? I'd like to hear from you.

girishseshamani's picture

 In all countries where English is the second or third language, it is normal to find students not so comfortable. Down here, I found out that the main reason for the shyness, is the huge gap which they feel, when they talk to students having a reasonably good command over the English Language or listen to their peer group speaking fluently. The students are at a very impressionable age and they obviously would not like to end up as the laughing stock or get mocked or ridiculed by their classmates.Your need to be more of a facilitator. You need to focus on these set of students and set a culture for the whole class wherein no student dares to pass comments or laugh at them. The average and weak students should get lot of encouragement and support at your end. If anyone breaks the code of conduct, see to it that the student is taken to task immediately and cut down to size. This has worked for me and created wonders.

jessica77's picture

'New Language' skills become better only over time. It takes a while for one to learn on how to properly pronounce these new words and even recall them or when to use the best one appropriately in a conversation. Additionally, most non-English speakers normally speak their (own) native language at home, therefore it gets kind of hard to learn a new language.

mangay's picture

Dear  ludi,   , For easier communication in english the students have to chat, chat and then talk mindless of grammer mistakes at earlier stages. Some parts of speech can be taught at the secondary stage. Thats more than enough. Please enter into my blog entry "chatting- a boosster pack for developing english fluency"  I think they feel embarrassed to talk in english because of the following reasons 1. fear of grammer 2. fear of peers 3. not comfortable with teachers  looking for your feedback in the blog regards dr.mangay

ludi.cordeiro's picture

Dear Girishseshamani,   Thank you for replying my post.   Your idea is really interesting. But I'm still not sure in which environments I can apply this, I mean, does this work with teenagers, adutls and children - all the age grous   Nowadays I'm teaching a conversation course so I don't have this problem. But in a regular English course it is pretty common to have students embarrased of, you're right, exposing themself to their classmates and being a reason for laugh and fun.   I might try your advice someday. Thank you!   Ludimila.

ludi.cordeiro's picture

Dear Mangay,
I totally agree with you when you say those reasons for embarrassment. It's true that most of the students don't want to be a reason for laugh if they make grammar mistakes. But I wonder how we could change this, I mean, if there's a way to do that.
 Our friend over here suggested that the teacher should set a culture in the classroom that none of the students can laugh or tease the classmate because of mistakes. It's a brilliant idea and may work out.
I just didn't get what you said: "Some skills can be taught at a secondary level". What did you mean by saying this? That we can teach the speaking skill when the student is at a higher level?

jersonsteins's picture

its already embedded that a foreign language is a superior one especially english... perhaps they are afraid of commiting mistakes and ridiculed by others... at least that's my own experience

jessica77's picture

Kids are kids, they need the tiniest reason to make fun of someone to get enjoyment. We can try to reduce the embarrassment faced by these kids (weak in English), but I do not think we can absolutely prevent it. Probably spending more time with these kids and help them to catch-up faster with English is probably the best bet.

Libela's picture

Hi, Ludi.I guess it is harder than we think why students are uncomfortable or embarrassed to speak a foreing language, many people I know feel that way even speaking their mother tongue. Sometimes it is part of their personality to feel a little embarrassed, I am sure that speak out loud would not be easy for everybody, no matter if it is a foreign language or its own language.What we should do as teachers, as somebody mentioned, is to facilitate the process of getting used with the language and create with the students a relation of trust. For me, it always worked.bye-bye

Tati Bauso's picture
Tati Bauso

 Well, that's a good topic. I think that everything that is new is scaring as well. Even for us, right? So, when students need to really speak, they enter in a new realm, that can be very "dark". They're not totally sure if what they're saying is right or wrong, so they're always going to fear their classmate's jokes, and they also fear committing mistakes, for sure. And I also see that we're dealing with humans, and they're all different. One can be more extrovert and communicative, while another one can be extremely shy. I think that this fact influences too.  

MareV's picture

Yes, I agree with you. I have already this experience in my classes. Some students are afraid of communicate, they don't feel security to pronunciation maybe this occur because all the theories that believe a good speaker is that one who speak as a native one. And this is not the point. A good speaker is that is understood easily, is that is clear about their concepts and show that they are securities about what they are talking.