This blog post seems more like a diary entry cause it has to do with how I feel at the moment. I should be studying for my EAP specialism but I can’t. What’s wrong? Well, fellow teacher, it is great when you share a moment of success with your students, isn’t it? Your beginner students learn how to read their first sentence on their own, the weak student does well in a test and smiles, your students pass their language proficiency exams and they cannot stop grinning, but what happens when your learner feels he/she has failed? Very often learners feel that passing a test equals success and not passing a language test means failure.
I do not know about you guys but I find it extremely difficult to:
1. Deliver bad test results to students.
2. Offer soothing words or advice that will alleviate/ minimise any bad feelings my learners have. Don’t get me wrong, I do tell them that it is not the end of the world and other nice words but…….
Two students with the same look on their face
Students study. That is what they do for a living, so when the end product is not what they expect, they often feel a sense of failure.
Last week one of my Chinese students on an EAP course I was teaching, did not meet the language requirements set by her department. She was crying. She came to improve her English and try to get into a UK university, but, although she tried, she didn’t get in. She looked at me and asked me,
” Why? What am I going to do now?”
I said to her, “Your English has improved. Don’t you feel that?”
” Yes, but it wasn’t enough. I tried and it wasn’t enough” she said.
” You will try again! You have improved…..”
“Yes, but what if I fail again?”
Yes, what if she fails to meet the requirements again? I, the teacher, cannot guarantee that she will acquire, learn and use everything I teach her and do well in her test. Then there are things that are totally out of my control. She may just even have a bad day on the day of the test. What can I say to my student that will make her feel better? What words can I say?
This week one of my teenage students found out she did not pass her B2 exam for the 2nd time. She was so sad. I tried to make her feel better by telling her that she did much better than last time. I told her that she was really close to passing this time. I told her about all the things she accomplished this year and how much both her speaking and writing had improved but it wasn’t enough. She stayed silent. When I said, ” You should sit for the exam again” she said, “What if I fail again? I can’t fail again”.
What can I say to this student? What will make her feel better?
I can only hope that both my students see how well they have been doing and find the strength to try again. Tests are hard. Some people do not pass them, so it is necessary to try again.
I do not really think that anything I say will make these students feel better. The only thing I can actually do is be there when they need me. Pick ’em up, guide them and help them with what they think is success. Passing the test.
In some cultures/educational backgrounds/situations language acquistion is associated with passing a test. Unfortunately.
Till next time…….