Published 19th November 2018
The term mindfulness is becoming more and more popular in our everyday lives. What with our frenetic daily lives it is becoming more desirable to make time to reflect on our thoughts and actions rather than rushing through them. In short, mindfulness is when you are focused on the present moment without paying attention to other distractions. As we are becoming more aware of the benefits of mindfulness, there seems no reason not to take our theories of mindfulness as mindfulness activities into the EFL classroom.
Mindfulness and our EFL students
Mindfulness has been shown to help people deal with pain, stress, anxiety and illness, and to improve well-being. While hopefully there isn’t pain and illness in our EFL classrooms, there is no doubt that stress and anxiety can be part and parcel of learning a language. This is especially true around exam time or if you are teaching any exam students. Introducing the concept of mindfulness and its applications into our classrooms is sure to better equip our students with any stress they may feel during their language learning journey.
In fact, mindfulness in the classroom has been shown to improve students’ cognitive skills, lower stress levels and enhance empathy. It has helped students regulate their emotions, which in turn improves their academic performance. Being mindful will help our students think more carefully in the classroom about their language production, effectively giving them thinking time before speaking. It can also help students who have problems with concentration or who are easily distracted.
Mindfulness in the EFL classroom
How exactly do we introduce mindfulness activities into our classrooms? There are a number of exercises and activities which we can teach our students to practise which can help improve mindfulness. Of course, as with any activities, it is necessary to choose or adjust your activities to suit the age and level of your students.
Mindfulness Activities include:
- Breathing exercises
- Focusing exercises
- Extended preparation times
There is no age limit or restriction on mindfulness activities. The key is to identify which activities would suit your class. A class of Young Learners may enjoy (and benefit from) short breathing exercises before a reading lesson. A class of teens might need to be led through a focusing exercise before a writing task. An adult class can appreciate a quick yoga lesson to focus after a long day.
Mindfulness is all about taking a holistic approach to learning. Making sure our students are well-rounded learners will mean that they are better prepared to learn. If they are present in the classroom and aware of their learning process, they will respond better to our lessons, participate more in class and be more successful. This is why mindfulness should be a part of every EFL classroom.