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boost student confidence in inline esl classes

Shy Learners: How to Build Student Confidence in your Online TEFL Classroom


boost student confidence in inline esl classes


If you want to foster engagement, light the spark. It’s not hard to engineer your curriculum to fit topics that enliven your shy students. Build student confidence by finding something they’re good at and talking about it.


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While some TEFL teachers have taught online for a long time, for many of you, this will be a new format of teaching. You may have already noticed that some students shy away from interaction in this virtual learning environment.

To inspire student confidence in your online TEFL classroom, you need to create a safe space that invites connection and engagement. 

Here are the real-world tactics that we use to motivate and teach confidence to our online EFL students. 


Why students lack confidence online


esl confidence in your online classroom


As experienced TEFL teachers, we are familiar with the whole gamut of EFL learners. 

Some students are bold, some curious, some courageous, and others shy. The shy, quieter students can sometimes be hard to coax out of their shell. 

To practice English, it is important that students engage in all formats. When shy students struggle to do this, it’s our job to encourage them to open up. 

Often this shyness comes from anxiety about making mistakes. This is can be heightened if you’re in group classes. 

Equally, as online EFL students are behind a computer screen, it’s easier for the quieter ones to hide away. 

In terms of harming communication, the screen makes it more difficult to read the context of facial expressions. Additionally, poor internet can lead to mishearing of sounds.

All these things add to the worry of making a mistake or appearing bad at English. 

Your online EFL students will only thrive if they try try try, so it’s up to you to foster confidence in speaking more so that they can improve.


5 Ways to Build Confidence in your Online EFL Students


To be the best online TEFL teacher you can be, you need to be engaging all your students. Especially those who appear tough to reach. 

Breaking down barriers with shy learners can be tough. 

If you’re asking yourself how to boost student confidence in your online EFL classroom, try these tactics. 


#1: Reach out with what they know


build student confidence


Learning English can be difficult and tiring. This is especially true for EFL students who have spent all day at school and are taking language lessons as extra classes.

Every adult knows that it’s harder to learn about something we find uninspiring. Imagine if you were forced to learn tax law right now or calculus. No thank you.

In this respect, if you want to foster engagement, light the spark. 

It’s not hard to engineer your curriculum to fit topics that enliven your shy students. Build student confidence by finding something they’re good at and talking about it. 

Build upon the confidence they feel in another area, and leverage that to work out how to improve their skills in English. 

To install this method in your online classroom, try activities such as:

  • Online research around a topic of interest
  • Hot-seat verbal Q&A sessions
  • Reading comprehension from relevant texts
  • Video comprehension


#2: Become the learner


teach students esl confient


Building on the method above, find something your shy student is good at, and have them teach you about it.

By handing over your power and authority to your student, you level the playing field. You empower your EFL student to steer the conversation in a way they feel comfortable. 

You, as the teacher, can broaden their language learning by introducing new vocabulary and linguistic skills to furnish this topic. 

In online lessons, activities that take this shape could involve:

  • Instruction writing
  • Making brochure
  • Making how-to videos
  • Live workshops
  • Reverse role hot-seat


#3: Get student feedback

This seems simple but it’s highly effective.

While we can try our best to guess why our students don’t engage fully, we may not know the whole answer. Let’s just ask for feedback.

Student feedback can come in many forms. Try rewarding students or making it feel like a game. Younger students may enjoy clicking emojis, while older adults may want a free lesson. 

Try to find out what students want more of or less of.

You may find that shy students need to be moved from group lessons to one-to-one lessons. You may feel that some students speak more confidently when doing a role-play rather than just speaking with a partner. 

Finding out this information (either through observation or feedback) will help you tailor your lessons for your students. That way you can see how to boost student confidence on an individual level. 

For your online classroom, you could even try using a survey software like Survey Monkey. 


#4: Reward improvement  


reward students


We all want our students to do well and come out with top grades. However, this pressure can often make shy students clam up.

The problem rarely lies in a shy learner’s ability to learn. This issue is in their presentation of that learning. They’re either so nervous that they fluster or they go silent. 

The remedy to this lies in compassion and in showing a learner the importance of consistent improvement over high grades.

Often shy learners struggle with knowing how to measure their improvement. They worry they haven’t done enough and they’re not good enough. So, they sink into the background. 

Draw them out by offering clear goals of what you want them to work on. Give solid steps of how the reach the goal, and examples of how improvement will look along the way.

Keep a record, ticking off milestones of improvement toward that goal and tangibly reward your student in a way that appeals to them.

For the online learner, rewards could include free lessons, discount coupons, gift cards, games time, and so on. 



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To summarize…

If you’re looking for how to build student confidence in your online EFL classroom, it’s all about trust. 

Create a safe, engaging environment where your EFL students feel empowered to learn in a way that suits them.


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