How can I help my students break down the barriers of their anxiety to enable them to learn their second language?

Miss Education says:

I really enjoyed last week’s presentation on language and place, particularly the activity we discussed in groups at the end of class. The whole concept of anxiety and (second or foreign) language learning really interests me and so, I decided to do a little research in regards to this. There is one article in particular that I read and feel is worth sharing because it made me realise how important it is to take the time to address anxiety issues in order to break down the barriers that some of our students put up because of this.

Ariza (2002) writes a very touching story about the struggles she faced when having to teach “a group of terrified children, angry at the prospect of being forced to learn [a foreign language]” (p.719). Her students were American boys that were relocated to Puerto Rico due to several factors mainly linked to family issues. All of her students had very solid “affective filters” (Krashen, 1983; as cited in Ariza (2002) p. 719) which got in the way of them processing the foreign language. So, she turned to CLL (Community Language Learning) to potentially reduce the effects of these filters and get her students learning. She explains that her approach as a “counselor” (instead of teacher) was a key solution to the problem that she, but more importantly her students, was facing.

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