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Infuse Your Students With Enthusiasm
Students who want to learn a foreign language tend to be more open-minded and extroverted. You as their teacher can use that to waken their interest in other cultures and help them look at the world with different eyes. Here are three easy steps to include foreign cultures into school classes:
Step one: Ask them if they know in which countries the language is spoken. You can use a world map and pin each country or make a list on the chalkboard. Most languages are only spoken in one or maybe two countries but there are some languages (such as English, French, or Spanish) that are spoken in many countries all over the world due to the colonies established and migration patterns in former times.
Step two: Let students tell the class what they know about the countries, their inhabitants and culture. Maybe they have special celebrations (like Chinese New Year) or special dishes (like pasta in Italy or paella in Spain). You can collect those pieces of information in a sidebar on the chalkboard. A mind map would be a good means to bring at least some order into the gathered information.
Step three: Collect ideas of topics for future lessons (e. g. bank holidays in Spain, German traditions, Italian food) using the information on the chalkboard. If students choose their own topics, they are likely to pay attention and be motivated. Maybe they can prepare short presentations on various aspects, alone or in groups.
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Among the positive effects of language learning is that students will become more self-confident with growing abilities in another language. They know they can do something many others cannot do. In combination with their waking interest in other cultures, many of them will travel to countries in which their second language is spoken. Thus, they will see more of the world and consequently gain a broader horizon. Often, people who have traveled to several countries are more tolerant and can adapt to new circumstances much more easily than people who have never been abroad.
Employers, too, like employees who have experiences abroad. Learning foreign languages and being interested in foreign cultures can be a great help in finding a job. Have your students list job opportunities in which knowing a foreign language will benefit them.
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Second language acquisition has many advantages, especially when begun in the early grades. However, it is often hard to interest students in anything that means hard work over years. So how can you motivate students to learn another language? The best way would be to find a connection between the students' interests and hobbies and the new language. If a student can see what benefits second language acquisition can bring, s/he is more likely to be motivated enough to put up with all the hard work of memorizing thousands of new words, learning new grammar and taking tests. Do not forget that some students need constant motivation or else they will stop their language classes.