I’ve had a bit of a holiday from writing blog posts, but I’ve still got lots of ideas to share and I’m aiming to post something every week for the rest of the summer. Here’s the first:
Before their FCE exams in June, my intelligent but quiet Spanish teenage students (all girls) all expressed that they were feeling nervous about their speaking exam. They were strong candidates on the whole and knew exactly what to do in the exam, so I wasn’t particularly worried about them, but I do know that a lack of confidence can play havoc with your ability to speak a foreign language. Also, as it was the part of the exam they would encounter first, their experience there could colour the rest of their exams. So, of course, I wanted to help them to feel as confident and able as they possibly could, and I was reminded of this wonderful TEDtalk by Amy Cuddy.
The idea is basically that adopting a power pose not only makes other people think that you are confident and capable, but also tricks your mind into thinking the same thing. So, after demonstrating and making myself look silly, I got my students to do the Wonder Woman pose too. There were giggles at first and I think they thought I was ridiculous but I got them to do it every time I saw them after that before their exam and, you know, science.
I don’t know the results of their exams so I can’t tell you if this is a failsafe method of giving students confidence, but I would suggest that it can’t hurt to get nervous (or any) students into the habit of powerposing before doing Speaking paper practice.