Everything that we say to our students can have a big impact. For us ESL instructors that can be exhilarating, but it’s also a big responsibility. Unfortunately, without realizing it, some instructors are sending the wrong message to students with “innocent” comments. These are four statements that are in this category.
1) Teacher’s statement: Just before handing out the quiz, she says, “This quiz will be easy.”
Message that students get: If a student starts the quiz and notices that it isn’t easy, he’s likely to think, “Wow! I must be stupid. This quiz is supposed to be easy. My classmates probably know all this.”
What the message should be: “This quiz will help us see how well you’ve developed your skills so far and what we’ll need to practice more.”
2) Teacher’s statement: “You have all worked so hard this week, so I won’t give you any homework. I want you all to just enjoy your weekend.”
Message that students get: “Homework is painful. It just interferes with free time. It’s best if we can avoid it.”
What the message should be: “I’ve prepared a homework assignment that will lead you to developing your skills more. It’s going to help you do well on our assignments next week and in the class that you will be in next term.”