General thoughts on confidence and success
The question was asked as to what it is in Korean culture that can affect students’ confidence; namely, the root of the problem. There were varied responses to this. One participant contextualized the problem by stating that it affected students who had been left behind by the education system. Another participant suggested that lots of confidence problems come from students’ super-high expectations; for example, “I *should sound like a native speaker or shouldn’t talk.” This suggestion was suported by the idea that in Korean culture people don’t do things unless they’re really good at those things; they strive for perfection.
To help make the striving for perfection fade, one participant suggested grouping the students. There was general agreement that this was a good idea; however, one participant questioned how to get a student who was sitting at the back of the classroom to talk.
Ideas to help students develop confidence and success
- Assist struggling students to prepare one question then call on those students to answer the question (which they’ve prepared) in front of the class
- Drama – hats & masks, voice-over acting with video clips, seems to help with quiet students
- Ease students into conversation – avoid pushing output
- Fitting in trick: Ask everyone to stand up and then they can sit down when they answer a question. (Not for the faint of heart)
- Help students to develop a road map for development
- Show models of excellent speakers, for example Ban Ki-Moon and Kim Yuna*
- Student portfolios, especially for writing
- Support language production (eg. non target language that can help them do the speaking task)
- Take an interest in students and provide them with opportunities to succeed
- Thinking time: Use TPS (Think, Pair, Share) before asking students to talk in front of a bigger group (or whole class)
- Time limits or words you can’t use or pentalties or something to make the task more difficult in a weird way
- Topics in the classroom that students want to talk about
- Train students regarding roles and rules and deal with expectations
* EDIT: Seeing Koreans speak perfectly may give students false expectations. Also show students moments when such icons make mistakes when speaking.