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ESL Classroom Atmosphere and Friendships

Sure, sometimes ESL classes are scary and uncomfortable. Students are worried about making mistakes and teachers are forced to be the language police. Still, teachers and students can be friends and the ESL classroom can be a really fun and entertaining place — a place where friends meet.

I really try to make my students feel comfortable. I don’t force them to do too many things and I try hard to keep the class exciting. But how do you know if students are comfortable?

Well, this week my students showed me, how much they love the class, their fellow students and ME. I was so surprised. Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, two of the students got gifts for everyone. We all got balloons, candles, picture frames, candy, chocolate and a personal card. I was so impressed that they got everyone presents.

Both students were from Mexico. I found out the in Mexico Valentine’s day is celebrated on the same day (February 14th), but it is called “Dia del Amor y la Amistad.” That translates to “Day of Love and Friendship.”

On the “Day of Love and Friendship,” my two students from Mexico celebrated the friendships they have in class. They wanted to show their friends how much they loved them. I was just so happy to included as one of their friends. I felt so lucky! And I was excited that they had made friends in the ESL class.

I wonder how teachers can encourage friendships in class. Do you have any ideas? I often have students work together, but what else is important to developing a safe and friendly ESL classroom atmosphere?

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