Expat in France: Confidence in a foreign country?

An ex-teacher of Portuguese turned student of English and I had a Skype call for an English conversation class. We spent most of the time discussing health and diet and visa processes. She is an exemplary student for confidence-based methodologies because she is a perfectionist who has some trouble with listening comprehension, which blocks her ability to speak. Perfectionism in speaking paired with major difficulty in listening makes me question whether the habits that she had developed/had been developed for her were incoherent with her learning style. She mentioned a tendency for listening to textbook English without exposure to different voices in English, which complicates her current interactions with international clients, especially South African clients. Are these self-confidence problems, or problems with habit that were incompatible with her language learning and performance styles?

In the past we’ve tried multiple confidence classes: 

  1. The Clue” short film confidence class
  2. Most boring conversation ever” audio class in confidence
  3. “Sell your house to a drug dealer” language register-based S-led interactive confidence class
  4. Boardroom organizational speaking points chart
  5. S-centered listening class – counseling-esque style of class

I have noticed that although some of them bring her to tears and allow her to break down walls in English, only humor and directly addressing what she needs actually boost her confidence because she is able to struggle, which pushes her to find the right strategy that works for her to deal with the meetings. She is even motivated to continue working at her job, a question that had been plaguing her mind and causing her stress. 

The major issue here is that she is pushed into fight-or-flight mode in order to solve challenges, this under the guise of “language evolution”. Even though this survival tactic is necessary, it is exhausting and overwhelming (she’s also a mother of two small children whose extended family is back in her home country). Possibility to create methodologies or strategies that prepare students for this while practicing their confidence? What could the focuses of the methodologies be? ✺

Cite this blog post
Brendan Geer (2023, March 1). Expat in France: Confidence in a foreign country? Confidence: language learning. Retrieved June 26, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/vvqa

Brendan Geer

Language teaching expert and researcher in language confidence. Founder of Prism: Language Confidence. Also director of the HeOnTe online teaching program, co-director of the Rennes Café des Langues, and cat dad.

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