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Helping Your Students Overcome Second Language Anxiety

homeschool spanish curriculumWhen implementing a classroom or homeschool Spanish curriculum for children, you may notice that your child or students are anxious to speak in the target language. If you have ever learned a foreign language yourself, you might relate to this experience. Speaking in a new language can feel uncomfortable. Use these techniques to make your students more secure with conversing in Spanish.

  • Warm Up: When starting the day’s lesson, be sure to begin with a simple speaking exercise. Consider reviewing what the students learned in the previous lesson with a short game, for example. This will ease the children into speaking in Spanish and switch their mind over from English.
  • Keep It Positive: Many students may be anxious about receiving negative reinforcement. Language is a central part of a human’s identity, so your students might feel threatened or embarrassed by only hearing feedback about what they are doing wrong. Give plenty of positive feedback as well to balance this out.
  • Encourage Peer Interaction: The children may feel more comfortable practicing their skills with each other than with an instructor. Peer-to-peer conversation is a great way to naturally build fluency. This is especially true for older elementary school students, as they are often chatty at this age.
  • Keep It Fun: By using games and other activities to practice grammar and vocabulary, your students can learn without realizing they are learning. Sprinkle these exercises into more traditional instruction, balancing kinesthetic learning with audiovisual. Take note of which games your students like the best, using these more often or as a special treat.
  • Integrate Smoothly: While your students or child are completing their classroom or homeschool Spanish curriculum for children, find ways to integrate Spanish into other parts of their daily routine. For example, ask them the Spanish words for their food at snack time. This will encourage familiarity and increase comfort with the language, making it less intimidating in general.

Reducing language anxiety in elementary Spanish lessons may require individual attention, as different students will exhibit various levels of comfort. Stay in tune with each student’s needs, checking in when you see a problem arise. As a their primary instructor you are responsible for making their learning experience as comfortable as possible, encouraging language acquisition in an open environment. Since students who learn a second language can learn a third more easily, learning Spanish through speaking will open their mind to taking the same approach with another language in the future.

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