It’s a risk worth taking: Helping students overcome their fear of mistakes

By Elena Spathis
@ElenaSpathis

As a high school Spanish teacher I often ask myself: would my students feel comfortable using the target language with a complete stranger in a foreign country? Or would they feel paralyzed by their fear of saying something incorrectly? As a perfectionist myself, I can relate to many of my students who hesitate or who always “play it safe” in fear of making a mistake. But in order to see our students really use the language successfully and authentically, we must encourage risk-taking in our world language classrooms. We need to put the right supports in place and equip our students with the ability and willingness to use the language in real contexts—errors and all.

So how can we encourage risk-taking?

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Activities that help create a safe classroom space

By Angelika Becker
@diebestefrau

At the beginning of the school year I like to ignore the old advice “don’t smile before Thanksgiving” and start with a big smile on my face and a lot of community building. Students need to know that my classroom is a safe place to learn and that it is okay to make mistakes; they need to know that I care about each and every individual student and they need to know that their classmates will be supportive.

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