How to encourage shy students?

Marie wrote in with a question I very often get asked “How can I encourage a shy student to learn English?”

Many teachers just see “shy” as a personality type, and hence use it as an excuse saying “it’s OK, she’s just shy.” But that really does no one any favours.

The key is to understand what “shy” actually means.

One definition, taken from Brian Tracy, is that shy simply means “the degree to which you can communicate with other people”.

Hence someone who is not shy can communicate with anyone. Someone who is shy cannot communicate with many people.

Once we realise this it’s easy to see that rather than being a personality trait or an excuse to be made, “shy” is actually the complete opposite of what we are trying to achieve with communication education.

So before we start teaching any English we have to overcome the shyness. We have to aim to banish it from class! As I show in my workshops and DVDs, confidence training has to be a major part of this and there are techniques you can use. And of course for kids who are very shy, simply being there to support them and giving them words of encouragement are very important.

But the aim should always be to remove shyness completely from the classroom, not to use it as an excuse or something not related to the study at hand. As someone who is incredibly shy by nature I know that if it is left unchecked it can be a huge social hindrance. But once it can be conquered the whole world is your oyster!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

5 Responses to “How to encourage shy students?”

  1. Gumby

    Richard,
    I would love to hear more of these confidence building tips!

  2. Carol

    I think encouraging shy students and smiling, plus creating a safe atmosphere is vital. Obviously, we don’t want to force them. Some kids prefer to just listen and then can shock you by suddenly talking later! I’ve had this happen 3 times now. But generally speaking, just including all students to participate (no one likes feeling left out) and using GE songs are already great motivators!!

  3. Mhel Nakamura

    What about those kids who don`t like English and are not interested in learning it, but have to because it`s one of their subjects.I`m talking about Japanese kids.

Leave a Comment - I pick one at random each month to win a free prize. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *