Decorate Your Classroom with Affirmations

Posted by Nancy Callan on 4 August 2013 | 1 Comments

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If you have been off for the summer or part of it, soon it will be time to return to classes. Maybe you are thinking about decorating your classroom. Why not give it a makeover with some affirmations? Our subconscious mind is bombarded with so many messages throughout the day, many of them negative. 
Affirmations give your subconscious mind new more positive messages to believe in. They literally re-program the mind.

Adult students in (ELL, ESL or EFL) English language classes often bring with them many negative beliefs that affect their experience as language learners. Examples are that they are too old to learn English or that they have a bad memory because they cannot remember new words they have only seen two times.

I’ve addressed some of these negative beliefs with these 8.5 X 11” posters that you are welcome to print out and post in your classroom. Some of them might be more like positive messages or resolutions than affirmations. You can choose the ones that you prefer. Just click on the images to download. 

Because a student did not do well in high school is no predictor of success in your classroom. Even lack of success studying English in the past when it was far less practically useful is not a predictor of how well the student will do as an adult 20 years later in your class. 

It can be scary to open your mouth when you aren't sure you have the grammar right. But time and again, we see that trying and making a mistake is one of the fundamental ways we learn. 

Creating a climate where risk taking is respected is important.

Again, let's create a positive environment, by encouraging a feeling of excitement about learning. You might prefer this one instead:


Affirmations don't normally contain negatives, but I'd rather not try to convince my senior citizen students that they are young. The bottom line is I've had many well educated seniors in my classes who have far outperformed numerous 30 year old classmates. And in 20 years of teaching adults, I've yet to find a consistent difference between the progress of my 25 year olds and my 45 year olds. It all comes down to individual differences. But that is NOT what my students believe! So, let's challenge that belief! 

It can be hard for students to remember how little they understood when they began your class and how much they have improved when they are still struggling to understand people on the telephone or in day to day situations. Remind them that they really are improving. 

No you do not have a bad memory because you have trouble remembering new words you've only seen twice! Research shows that almost all of us need to see a new word about 7 or 8 times before it is committed to memory. Encourage students to make it a habit to review each new vocabulary item 7 times. 

Contrary to popular belief of students, it is not how long you review for, it's how many times you review. Students will perform far better if they get into the habit of doing a 15 minute review each day rather than cramming for 2 hours on the weekend. 

How fast will you learn English if you never use it outside the classroom? Students need to affirm that they will make the effort to say something in English every day, even if you have absolute beginner students and all they can manage is "excuse me" when they pass by someone at the grocery store. 

Apparently, it takes about three weeks for new habits to take hold. For affirmations to be effective, they should be repeated several times every day for at least 21 days.
 What a perfect audio-lingual drill! Enjoy!


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  • Thank you for sharing your idea. I find it very useful and necessary to keep in mind those possitive thoughts. Adult beginners have to make a great effort to learn English and any reinforcement is very welcome.

    Posted by Adela, 16/12/2015 4:15am (4 years ago)

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