Home ESL Teacher Enhancing learner self-confidence 

Enhancing learner self-confidence 

Enhancing learner self-confidence 


Learner confidence may be gradual to vary and is deeply rooted. It’s primarily based on experiences in all areas of learners’ lives – some past our attain. Nevertheless, it’s simpler to vary if we deal with language studying and strengthen their confidence particularly in that area, somewhat than aiming for his or her general sense of self. When learners really feel assured, they’re extra keen to check out new facets of language and are much less afraid of getting issues mistaken. If we wish learners to actively use the language, serving to them to really feel assured is one key strategy to facilitate this.

In language studying, there are a selection of issues lecturers can do to authentically enhance learners’ confidence. Merely telling them to be assured or giving false reward won’t work – learners need to really feel they’ve earned their successes so as to take possession of it and really feel empowered by it. 

  1. Assist learners see progress.

    Language studying is gradual and takes time. Generally it may be onerous for learners to see their progress so making their development seen is useful for reinforcing their sense of feat. For instance, learners can reply to can-do statements, preserve portfolios, or make an inventory of all of the issues they will already do in a language. Additionally it is necessary to discourage social comparisons. All learners are people and make progress at their very own tempo. Ideally, we wish learners to deal with their very own progress and guarantee they preserve transferring ahead with out evaluating their very own good points to these of others. Lecturers must keep away from presenting a public comparability of grades or progress.  

  2. Guarantee learners expertise success.

    To realize confidence, they should expertise success. Nevertheless, it’s important that learners recognise this as a real earned success – if one thing is simply too straightforward, learners won’t really feel a way of delight or a lift to their confidence. A technique to make sure moments of success is for lecturers to make use of scaffolding. That is when lecturers break down larger duties into smaller, extra manageable duties which construct up in gradual levels of problem. For instance, if practising a particular language construction similar to questioning, the trainer might start with a better process which simply requires extra restricted responses similar to filling in sentences. They could make the following process just a little tougher the place they’ve so as to add inquiries to a dialogue. Lastly, in the event that they really feel learners have had enough follow and help, they may then transfer on to a tougher process similar to interviewing a associate the place there may be much less construction and help. There are lots of methods to scaffold relying on goals and duties, however the concept is to construct up problem and take away help as learners achieve confidence and mastery.  

  3. Empower learners with methods.

    Confidence additionally comes from having a way of course and understanding what to do. This implies it helps if lecturers explicitly train learners methods for tips on how to study and use a language. For instance, we will present learners tips on how to keep it up a dialog even after they don’t know sure phrases, tips on how to learn a textual content with out understanding each single phrase, tips on how to study new vocabulary, tips on how to plan and construction an oral presentation, the place to seek out sources for practising writing blogs, who to method for suggestions or further follow alternatives and many others. Learners may be inspired to check out completely different methods and report again on how helpful they discovered them. It’s empowering to have a pathway of motion to check out and concepts for tips on how to overcome obstacles in addition to believing one can enhance one’s personal means. That is the place having a development mindset can also be critically necessary for confidence and a willingness to even check out methods.  

  4. Foster learner autonomy.

    A associated feeling of management and empowerment can come from learners being given alternatives to make choices about their studying. Learners may be given decisions in (1) what they work on (e.g., between completely different duties) or (2) how they work on it (e.g., provided the selection of who to work with or selecting between completely different types of output similar to a video or podcast). Any diploma of alternative may also help learners really feel they’ve management over their studying and helps them additionally make decisions they really feel snug with. This sense of management and empowerment can enhance their confidence and willingness to grow to be energetic individuals in school.  

  5. Deal with unrealistic expectations and perfectionism.

    A menace to learner confidence can stem from them having unrealistic expectations of what they need to be capable of do or tending in direction of perfectionism. It’s useful for lecturers to explicitly talk about the character of language studying with learners stressing how regular it’s for progress to be gradual and the way errors are typical for each learner. As well as, lecturers can use duties (in writing and talking) the place they intentionally encourage learners to deal with speaking their principal message and never fear about errors. Learners may be prompted check out new language and be artistic in utilizing a various array of communication methods similar to, reformulating advanced expressions, utilizing mime or gesture, or drawing on their different languages if want be. Language use may be extraordinarily rewarding after they can get their message throughout to a associate efficiently utilizing no matter communication methods they could know! It’s communication that counts, not perfection! 


Reflection questions 

  • Are you able to consider a learner who wants a lift to their confidence? Would any of those methods assist them to see what they’re positively able to? 
  • Taking a look at upcoming duties you could have deliberate, are you able to see any which might profit from the addition of different steps to scaffold it for weaker learners? 
  • In suggestions, how typically do you deal with highlighting the constructive issues learners can do and did nicely?  





Sarah Mercer is Professor of International Language Instructing on the College of Graz, Austria. Her analysis pursuits embody all facets of the psychology surrounding the international language studying expertise. She is the creator, co-author, and co-editor of a number of books on this space together with, Exploring Psychology for Language Lecturers (2015, with Marion Williams and Stephen Ryan), Instructor Wellbeing (2020, with Tammy Gregersen), and Participating Language Learners in Up to date School rooms (2020, with Zoltán Dörnyei). She has printed over 150 ebook chapters and journal articles and has served as Principal Investigator on a number of funded analysis initiatives. In 2018, she was awarded the Robert C. Gardner Award for excellence in second language analysis by the Worldwide Affiliation of Language and Social Psychology (IALSP). Sarah is the auhor of this paper.