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Test Anxiety

 
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catalina



Joined: 22 Aug 2003
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2003 4:34 pm    Post subject: Test Anxiety Reply with quote

Hello All,

I am currently teaching a course to prepare an Italian student for a standardised test (Cambridge Proficiency). The student completed high school (about 10 years ago) and has since worked in a factory and has taught himself English through the media and self-study. He has a very good grasp of grammar, his writing and reading are quite good and his spoken English is very good. He has a friend that speaks English with whom he practices daily! ( If only I was as dedicated with my Italian!) This test will occur in June and we have lessons scheduled until mid-May. So we have lots of time to work out the language details.

The issue here is test anxiety. He is almost a wreck and it's only December. The text we are using is based directly on the text and we have looked at the test and done one trial run for the reading section (1.5 hours). He is now convinced he cannot do the exam (but still really wants to do it). A lot of my time is spent calming him at the expense of other students in the class. I think he has the knowledge to do this exam but I need some tips to help him with this anxiety. He acknowledges that he is anxious and is willing to try almost everything.

Can anyone suggest some strategies and techniques?

Much appreciated.

Catalina
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serendipity



Joined: 01 Mar 2004
Posts: 110
Location: Wiener Neustadt, Austria

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Find a couple of Americans or Brits living near you, and treat them to a night-out at a local tavern, taking your student along.

Make sure that there's an ample supply of wine, and that each and every member of the party gets a fair share of the drinks - especially the anxious student.

He'll find out that alcohol lowers the embarrassment threshold, and that international communication gets elevated to a less-verbal plane - a state of mind where mistakes don't matter in the least, where compliments are shared freely, and where a good time is had by one and all - irrespective of one's particular level of fluency.

Afterwards, advise him to psyche himself into a similar mindset right before the exam, and if "psyching" alone doesn't do the trick, a couple of glasses of grappa will, combined with a few bars of chocolate for the serotonin level.

Seriously, I found that exam anxiety can invariably be relieved with chocolate just prior to the event. Or with wine, if it's adults, but one is not supposed to say that in public, of course.
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noonlite



Joined: 23 Feb 2003
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2004 2:11 am    Post subject: alcohol? Reply with quote

I must agree that alcohol is an effective way of eliminating anxieties around language use -or even talking to people socially in your own language, but only in a very limited way. Alcohol is at its best, a temporary fix and at its worst a potentially addictive and destructive crutch. This is because alcohol does not allow a person to actually confront her anxiety, but covers it up and obscures it instead, only for it to re-emerge later, often in a more potent form.

The best solution for students who have great test anxiety is to teach them to enter fully into their anxiety and experience it without resistance so that it may pass. There are several meditative techniques around which will allow this. I suggest a form of mindfullness meditation that is very easy and doesn't require any religious convictions. It is a simple and effective way of taking control over your own thoughts and feelings as opposed to being at their mercy.
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serendipity



Joined: 01 Mar 2004
Posts: 110
Location: Wiener Neustadt, Austria

PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2004 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Noonlite -

Let me guess - you're American, aren't you?

And female?

The student is *Italian* and *male*.

He probably doesn't demonize alcohol in the way you do, seeing it as something addictive, on the contrary, I bet a glass of wine with his meals is a cherished part of his culture.

He doesn't have to confront his anxieties either, if they surface later on, he will have passed the dreaded exam - something that he needs help with at present.

Who can say what the *best* solution is in this case?

And if there is time to *teach them to fully enter their anxiety and experience it without resistance so that it may pass*?

I wouldn't want a teacher of mine to go into those issues, because I would perceive it as a transgression of personal boundaries on their part, and if I were a man, I would feel even more strongly about it.

I mean, of course, the two of us are speculating here. Maybe it's an issue of trying out what works.

No offense meant.
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noonlite



Joined: 23 Feb 2003
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2004 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're correct in that I'm American, but I am not female, nor do I "demonize" alcohol. I simply attempt to look at a thing for what it is. In my view it doesn't matter what one's culture chooses to embrace; reality exists beyond culture. Allowing a student to look at his or her anxiety for what it is and actually deal with it requires a great deal of expertise. It is easy to decide that a person is overstepping boundaries, and thereby excuse oneself from having any responsibility. We have been taught in life to accept many boundaries and limitations. I've realized that there are no boundaries except for those which we create for ourselves. Therefore I am able to accomplish many things that would not be possible were I to have a more limited view of things.
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serendipity



Joined: 01 Mar 2004
Posts: 110
Location: Wiener Neustadt, Austria

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good for you.
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