Using what you have read in this introduction to TESOL and your own knowledge, what do you consider to be the blocks which may prevent language learning?
When speaking about difficulties in learning and teaching foreign language different authors use different terminology. Some of them speak about mistakes, misbehavior (Cummings, C.: 2000), sources of friction (Smith, C. J., & Laslett, R.: 2002), some – about anxiety (Nishimata, T.: 2008), troubles, difficulties and so on. For better understanding let’s summarize all this definitions into a word “block”, which means “block, that could prevent language learning”.
There are two major types of blocks. The first type is teacher’s blocks. And the second one is student’s. This means that we could face with some challenges in the question of effective learning from the both sides of the process. And in each situation there are also external and internal blocks. External are blocks that are dictated with the environment. Internal ones are coming from the personality.
In both cases I suppose blocks are about psychological reactions but the difference is in a reason for that.
Regarding blocks that could appear from the teacher’s side most of the authors pay attention to the following. Lack of self-discipline, fears of working with different (“non-standard”) students (Cummings, C.: 2000), managing stress, anger and other emotions (Coetzee, S. A., Wydeman, J. L., & Niekerk, E. J.: 2008). Also I could mention blocks that are connected with the previous experience, teacher’s deformation and burnout. To overcome this troubles teacher needs to be a strong-motivated person able to struggle with his/her blocks. Help of colleagues and observation feedback, realistic understanding of the own level and own abilities may be very useful. Connecting with other teachers “is a way of sharing your burdens, and your successes, with somebody else. They might feel the same and share strategies to help you overcome the burdens and rejoice in the successes” (Saumell, V.: 2014). Authors also stress that teacher should remember that the blocks exists from both sides, try to create a relaxing atmosphere, be respectful to students, give a positive feedback and be encouraging, give students an opportunity to redo the tests, use various teaching methods and techniques.
As for the students and their blocks there is much more information to think of. In a list there are such huge themes as age, motivation, level of knowledge, previous learning experience and influence of mother tongue. The problem of age mostly appears before adults. “I’m too old to learn English” or “The time is lost” and so on. It’s important to work upon the positive attitude of grown-up students, to show them the advantages of learning language now, when they exactly know where they will use it and what for do they need it. And do not forget to dispel a myth that it’s impossible to learn foreign language effectively after the age of 20. Teacher may use different arguments to confront with the lack of self-confidence. For example “without strongly embedded L1 syntactic structures, young children are probably more amenable to actions and activities that promote productive language skills”. (Holloway, M. K.: 2008)
And for sure it’s essential for a teacher to know the basis of developmental psychology to be able to communicate effectively with the students of different ages and to consider age peculiarities. As for the motivation it’s a great clue to solve the problems with other blocks. Strong motivation to learning allows student to overcome all other difficulties. Speaking about children it’s a rare situation when a teacher faces with the highly motivated class. So it is one of the great challenges – to motivate students, to show them the positive attitude, to encourage for search and discovering new world.
“As with all learning skills, pupils will be more motivated when they are interested in what they are thinking about or see a real purpose for their thinking” (Wilson, J., & Murdoch, K.: 2008). It’s far not all the blocks and not all the ways of overcoming them but I think that student’s blocks and the blocks of a teacher are deeply connected. And if a teacher has strong blocks in teaching sure s/he will face with the lack of motivation and self-confidence from his/her students and vice versa. As the main responsibility lies on the teacher’s shoulders it’s meaningful to know the blocks and not to avoid but face them and work at them.