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First day fears

Learning Blocks and Fears – We Beat them Together

Every Monday morning I meet my new course participants and at least one of them will say that they’re very nervous! This is completely natural but the good news is that our school and trainers know how to help you and resolve this problem. In this blog, I will look at some of the most common fears and show you how we all work together to overcome them.

‘’Everyone else will be so much better than me’’

First of all, it is natural for everyone to think this, even the most advanced language student, so you are not alone! Secondly, I’m quite sure that you’ll realise that different people have different strengths: your listening might be better than your classmate’s grammar, for example. But if there really is a problem with the level of the class, and you have been placed in the wrong group, there is a system to deal with this. First of all, I will have a chat with you, then feedback your comments and my own assessment to the Director of Studies. We will then agree on a path that will suit you and your English level.

“I’m quite shy and don’t feel confident about speaking in class”

The first day in any new situation can often make you want to sit back and listen, rather than speak. You might not want to make mistakes, or be worried about expressing your opinion. Perhaps you’re afraid of interrupting your trainer or classmates. But don’t worry, we will provide you with the language you need to discuss, agree, disagree, interrupt and then give you activities to help you practise. From there we’ll encourage you to take part in more natural discussions in and out of the classroom. And remember that the school’s lunch and social programme will give you plenty of opportunity to talk about all kinds of things.

“I am afraid of making mistakes and am embarrassed about my…”

Nobody likes to feel silly so this is a very natural fear and everyone feels they are weaker at some elements of the language, be that grammar or pronunciation or whatever. Remember, though, that nobody judges you on how many mistakes you make but simply how effectively you communicate an idea. To improve you have to step out of your comfort zone and communicate about new topics in new situations with new people and using new language. We make the classroom a safe place where you can do this. Our core aim is to make everyone a more confident communicator.

“I’m only here for a week, is that enough time to make progress?”

This is a very common fear among our participants. You’re busy, you work hard and you can’t take a month or two out of your lives to spend in an English school. So, how can a week make a difference? First of all, our courses focus on speaking and listening skills, so from the very first day you can expect to be actually using your English. The trainers do an intensive needs analysis, helping us to target the areas that concern you most. We then make a weekly plan that will include the topics, grammar and skills that you want to concentrate on. You will be given spoken and written feedback during every lesson, and this should highlight your progress and make you aware of any continuing problems. I have had many participants who only came for one week and left feeling confident and inspired to continue learning.

“What if I lose all my new skills when I go back to work?”

One of my main priorities as a trainer is to help participants use and improve their English when they go home. And I know that my colleagues feel the same. If you take an active part in your own learning when you’re in class, hopefully, this will become a habit that continues after you leave us. I’m particularly keen on participants reading and listening to as much English as possible – watch Netflix, listen to podcasts, use BBC 6-Minute English. And all of this is possible wherever you live. We provide our ex-participants with access to the online learning platform and Skype English lessons, as well as giving you a very long list of websites, apps and advice to go home with.

‘’My company is funding my English course. What if I don’t make sufficient progress?”

At our centres in Canterbury and London, we offer a service, designed to suit the course participant. We do pre-course assessments and a needs analysis in the first lesson. These tools help us to understand what you – and your employer – want from the English course. Together, we can create a programme that will meet your specific needs. Last month, for example, I had a very nervous Italian participant who needed to give a presentation to the university who were funding her scientific research, and the English course! We worked on the grammar and vocabulary in the presentation and then spent time on voice delivery. She learnt to slow down, stress important points, raise and lower her voice. Finally, we prepared her for unexpected questions in a Q&A session, increasing her confidence in a nerve-wracking situation. The university were delighted with her presentation, and very complimentary about her English.

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