Graduated, young professional, good knowledge of the English and French languages. Elena had what it takes to move to the UK looking for a job and start a new career. Nevertheless, she felt insecure about her English skills and whenever it came to speaking English she did her best to avoid the conversation. Well, Elena decided to make a breakthrough to her English skills. Here is what she did to finally boost her English and gain self-confidence in speaking English.
Last year Elena (nickname) joined in the second session of our language summer school UK Learn English through Drama. It is our English speaking course for intermediate level aiming at learning English through drama methodologies. She chose to take part in the whole programme: English speaking course in the morning and volunteer work experience in the afternoon. When she got enrolled, she was looking for English summer courses in UK that could help her to overcome her lack of confidence in speaking English. Of course, she didn’t find our English language summer school UK only. She took into consideration a number of training offers from a number of English summer courses in UK. But what set our English speaking course Learn English through Drama apart from the other English summer courses in UK was the fact that the programme went beyond the traditional conversation classes.
In fact, Elena knew she was pretty good at speaking in a classroom, together with other classmates and a teacher leading the conversation in order to make the students explore new vocabulary. That is the common context where she used to feel at ease. On the contrary, she was struggling with the reality: common situations where anyone is asked to express oneself spontaneously and fluently. Could there be a language summer school UK where the students are asked to deal with every-day situations as if they where acting in the reality? That is what she was looking for. No more exercises taken from a textbook, no more structured conversation classes. She needed to challenge her English skills and take them to next level. So, she decided to go for the Learn English through Drama.
Very soon she realised she chose the most challenging path for her. On the second day of the course she decided to give up. Mark, the teacher in charge of the English language summer school UK, says about that conversation: ‘Elena got stuck a couple of times during the first speaking exercises. At the beginning of the course, we don’t involve the students in acting or performing exercises, we just explore new vocabulary, learn idioms and phrases and put them to use in basic dialogues. Actually, she was doing pretty well, even though clearly she was not happy with her performance. Later, at the end of the lesson, she said to me she wanted to quit.’
Such a reaction can happen and our teachers of course are prepared to manage situations like the one occurred with Elena. Even though it doesn’t happen that often – lucky for us!- it is not that weird that students declare they want to quit because they feel stuck. This is when Suggestopedia and its principles enter into action. According to the suggestopedic principles, the students have to feel free in expressing themselves and, above all, they have to feel welcomed and at ease. Our teachers are trained to put to use the principles of Suggestopedia: the way they lead the lessons and communicate with the students relates to a very specific methodological framework. Mark simply behaved accordingly and welcomed Elena’s reactions and feelings with the specific purpose to make her feel understood and safe.
Believe it or not, Elena went to the third day of lesson and attended the course as scheduled. ‘I was so scared at the beginning. I was aware the teacher was good and my classmates had the same difficulties as mine. Nevertheless I think I panicked. But then Mark was able to keep me involved without pressure, just making me feel safe and at home. I remember I kept on doing the exercises that morning, though Mark gave me specific tasks for me only – more simple or relaxing, I guess.’says Elena now.
Once the English speaking course was over, Elena moved permanently to London, she got a job and now she has been enjoying her life in the vibrant London. Now she says: ‘I am now aware I had huge difficulties in speaking English due to my lack of confidence. Also, I was aware that my English sounded like not natural and spontaneous and this is what concerned me the most when I had to speak up. But now I can say that time is over. ‘Learn English through Drama’ truly helped me to overcome my difficulties, unleash my potential and fix my English. That is the most powerful and effective of all the English summer courses in UK. Lucky for me, I found it! My classmates can confirm this is the best English course in London. I feel I got there and I am no longer afraid of speaking English. I enjoy speaking English now, which is something I forgot for a moment in the past.’
Yes, the joy of learning a foreign language. That is a good point, too. We will talk about it in the next post.
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