There is a litany of reasons for why students do not want to speak up in class. This is an especially difficult factor when teaching a language. It is vital for students to speak and develop their tongue as well as their ear when learning a language.

Ask Questions

A good way of making speaking a regular part of your class is to prepare questions to go with your lessons. Asking students questions not only gets them to speak in class it also gets them thinking. For example, if you are teaching about family, ask students to describe their family. How many siblings do you have? Where do your grandparents live? What is your brother’s favorite food?

question markCredit: pixabayAsking follow-up questions to their responses is a great way of engaging students. Then you can ask other students to describe what they have learned from their fellow student. Along with speaking this will keep the class on their toes and paying attention.

Build their Confidence

Embarrassment is a major cause of students not speaking in class. Try using encouragement to fight students’ embarrassment. Create a classroom where students feel comfortable to make mistakes. There are those students that look to jump at any chance to ridicule a peer. I have found that putting these students on the spot tends to cease their disruptive outbursts. After doing so, they tend to either ease up on the disruptions or clam up.


One exercise to help relax tense and shy students is pass the sound.chairsCredit: pixabay

For this activity, gather the class in a circle. The teacher begins by saying a word or making a sound that the person next to the teacher repeats followed by the next person, and so on. This continues until the word or sound has gone around the circle, with everyone participating, and returns to the teacher. Do this with vocabulary words, vowel sounds, and funny noises.

Use this activity to drive home the fact that everyone is in the same boat, that everyone is there to learn and develop and that it is fine that people learn at different speeds and through different ways. This should begin to breakdown the embarrassment and reservation pupils have about speaking in class, at least within your classroom. It is a process and an important one.

Correcting every mistake can discourage students. Remark on what they do correctly. Encourage them. We learn through making mistakes.