Only three students showed up on the first day of class!
Our first English communication course in India took place in a college in semi-rural North Gujarat in the winter of 2012. We had three instructors from the US and had a fun, engaging, and progressive curriculum to help students become more communicative in English. There was a large student body of over 7000 students at that campus that could benefit from our courses. Before classes began, we spent a week assessing the general English level of hundreds of students who had applied. We interviewed each one of them and got a sense of their motivations and needs. However, on the first day of class, only three students attended class!
We quickly learned that our students were afraid to speak in English. One friend influenced ten other friends, and collectively they decided this was not a good idea. They were shy to speak in English because their friends would make fun of them. They were afraid to make mistakes. They didn’t want to hear themselves speaking in a language they use only to read and write. Ultimately, we addressed the challenge with games and other fun activities. The group of three students experienced a day of class and brought their friends back and we grew until we couldn’t handle the numbers. As instructors, we learned a new lesson and so did the students.
The leap from fear to confidence doesn’t happen in a moment.
Have you been in such a situation with your English? How did you make your leap?