People who learn new languages get so many benefits from it. They gain practical knowledge, learn valuable things about foreign cultures, and discover a whole new world outside of their own. However, English-speaking countries have by far the lowest interest in foreign language learning. Recent surveys have revealed that not more than 7% of college students in the U.S. participate in a language course.
It is true that academic authorities in almost all countries in the world consider English a preferable second language but it doesn’t mean that learning other languages became futile for native English speakers. So how can you encourage students to learn another language?
5 tips to make students more interested in a language course
Language teachers have the privilege but also a great responsibility to make their students more interested in foreign languages. Here are 5 things they can do to make this happen.
1. Explain the benefits
As a teacher, you should be wise enough to subtly explain the benefits of learning languages to your students. Try to elaborate how mastering foreign languages is rewarding and beneficial. You can also add that language learning correlates with better academic results. This applies to career and self-development as well.
And keep reminding students that not everything is about English– other languages such as Chinese, Spanish, or French are widely spoken and used in the scientific and political community. Additionally, students will probably consider it worthwhile if you suggest that knowing one more language could make them look cool among their peers.
2. Let them know the results of learning
Let students see the results of their learning every once in a while; it’s up to you to choose how. There are numerous ways to do it but keep in mind that young people are usually impatient and yearn for some encouragement from your side.
It may be done by organizing a language speaking club with discussions on the specific topic that they already perfected. Introduce gamification elements with scores and objectives, so that students can enjoy achieving results through correct use of foreign language. Any method that makes students feel proud about the progress they made is valid.
3. Let art help you
It’s often very practical to involve art in the language course. Popular culture is always a good tool to attract students’ attention— feel free to include movies, songs, interesting stories, or even cartoons into the learning process. It will help young scholars familiarize with the content and learn by association.
Every kind of art that you consider unconventional or exciting can help you immerse them into the language and culture discussions. The result will most likely be an open conversation about the topic, which will eventually lead to better understanding of the language they learn.
4. Make them use the language
Theoretical knowledge is the basic precondition for language learning but it is even more important for young learners to practice what they learn. Therefore, you should create possibilities for them to use the language. You may invite native speakers from time to time and organize debates, where many students will understand what they do or don’t know.
Of course, mistakes come as a natural part of this process so you have to provide support and encourage students not to give up on expressing their opinions in foreign language. The more they speak the more they are going to learn.
5. Give rewards
We already mentioned that language students need occasional encouragement and support, but it should be one of your top priorities since a nice reward is always the best way to keep them interested and engaged. Give your praise to the best learners but also approve the knowledge of the most dedicated students or the ones who do some extracurricular activity.
Today’s kids are not that much into language learning. But with enough dedication and passion from their teachers, it’s not too difficult to make them more interested. A nice combination of teaching techniques and practical lessons will be able to motivate and inspire students to learn faster and more effectively. Keep our 5 tips in mind when giving a language lecture and you’ll find the results much better and the job more satisfying.
2 thoughts on “How to Encourage Student Interest in Foreign Language Learning”
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I love your article and was wondering if I could reference it in a blog post I am writing about student motivation. I’d love to hear from you!