Language learning is a complex process which requires a thorough study. A lesson can be a complete failure if we don’t consider the possible blocks. When the desired result is not reached and the progress is unseen, it’s high time to weigh up the pros and cons of our pedagogic approaches. As educators, we need to do our best to minimise all the factors which may constrain the success of our students.
A great number of blocks are subjective and have little to do with teaching methods. Quite often they are related to the students’ perception of the world. People can have cultural, racial, religious or even sexist types of prejudice. Gender stereotypes are widespread, especially in the Arab society. A female teacher may not be taken seriously. Some psychological blocks are very hard to deal with. The state of health and mood influence the academic performance. Research also shows that introverts have to make a greater effort than extroverts to study languages. Shy people will unlikely to start a conversation and they will not to keep talking without a strong motivation. Indonesian students prefer to keep quiet because of the fear to make mistakes. Since laughing at those who do something wrong is culturally accepted in their country, no one wants to be the subject of ridicule. The Japanese avoid talking because they don’t want to cross the borders of speaking too much. Thus, the cultural background must not be neglected. A lot of adults think that they are too old to study. Some students are sure that if they want to speak a foreign language, they need to have an exceptional talent for it. As teachers, we should avoid the believes that English cannot be learned by some people because of their traits of character or because of their nationality. We need to be aware of certain peculiarities if we want to encourage our students and make the process of studies easier.
Though not everything depends on educators, they can do a lot to inspire the students and raise their achievement. Nevertheless, when they lack experience, sometimes it is just better not to create additional blocks to learners. One of them appears when teachers do all the speaking. Their talking time must be limited to give students more opportunities to express their thoughts. Another block is excessive error correction. Of course, students need to be aware of their mistakes, but even the improper tone is a serious hindrance to learning. If it depends on the teacher, it is good to form a group consisting of people of approximately the same level. Different language aptitude can become a stumbling block. Extra help should be given to those who do not keep up with the lesson pace. From my experience as a language learner and also as a teacher, I can say that the lack of motivation and poorly devised teaching materials are the main blocks which prevent language learning. For example, when I understood that I wouldn’t need German in my future career, no one could persuade me to continue studying it. The situation is different with Turkish which I study as a hobby. Enthusiasm alone won’t get you far when it comes to languages. I come across different self-learning modules and all I see is an enormous amount of theory and a great number of grammar exercises. As a teacher, I can also see that for a beginner whose aim is to start speaking English, an overwhelming number of grammar tasks is a real block. For instance, even though it is next to impossible to say something without the verb ‘to be’, our goal should not be limited to putting verbs into the correct form. We need to create the atmosphere of a dialogue which is similar to real-life situations.
According to other classification, blocks are divided into linguistic and extralinguistic. The first ones are connected with various language aspects. If students don’t have certain sounds in their mother tongue, they will have blocks in articulation. If there are no articles in their native language, they are sure to have problems with them. Thus, the blocks can be in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and the like. Examples of extra linguistic blocks include bad lighting, noise, poor quality of teaching equipment, etc. Whatever the blocks are, the educators should be able to predict and minimise them.