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How to Create a Safe Place to Practice Speaking

Austin Meusch
June 16, 2022

Speaking a new language can be daunting, especially in front of friends and classmates. Make your language students feel at ease practicing pronunciation.

For many students, speaking during a world language class is their most anxiety-inducing classroom experience.

They’re afraid of making mistakes and being corrected in front of their classmates. Often, teachers don’t think twice before correcting students’ speech, knowing the direct feedback will help them improve.

But for many students, it can come across as harsh or embarrassing. Creating a safe place to practice speaking a second language could mean the difference between your students loving or loathing the language.

Encourage Positive Peer Interactions

For students to feel safe speaking in a classroom, the environment needs to be free of judgment. Now, this is slightly challenging among school-age pupils who are eager to tease. However, you can encourage this type of environment by lessening the pressure put on each student’s individual performance.

How do you do it? Focus on collaboration among pairs and groups. Encourage equality among peers by grouping learners of similar proficiency levels to engage in practice conversation.

Use a Speaking Application

As with any curriculum, learning a language requires practice and, yes, even homework. Consistent repetition of a foreign language outside of the classroom is vital. Frequent speaking exercises on Speakable allow students to practice anywhere they have an internet connection.

This allows them to build confidence over time instead of being put on the spot during class. As an instructor, you can assign and grade assignments on Speakable while keeping a real-time understanding of each student's progress.

Establish an Open Door Policy

What a student feels, whether it be excitement or apprehension, when they walk into your classroom speaks volumes. One of the best ways teachers can create a safe place for students to practice speaking a second language is by establishing an open-door policy.

An open-door policy makes them feel seen and heard. Allow your pupils to pop in and talk about anything, whether it is about the class material or real-life situations. This shows a genuine effort to create a safe place.


Writing and hearing a world language is important, but speaking it is vital to truly understand the rich flavor of the language in conversation. It takes time, effort, and a little bit of patience to transform anxious pupils into eager language learners. You can create a safe speaking environment within your classroom by laying a foundation for positive peer interactions, using at-home speaking tools, and establishing an open-door policy.

How do you help your students feel comfortable speaking their new language for the first time? Let us know in the comments section!


Kubanyiova, M. (2018). Creating a Safe Speaking Environment. Part of the Cambridge Papers in ELT series. [pdf] Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ohta, A. S. (2001). Second language acquisition processes in the classroom: Learning Japanese. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Philp, J., Adams, R., & Iwashita, N. (2014). Peer interaction and second language learning. New York: Routledge.

McDonough, K. (2004). Learner-learner interaction during pair and small group activities in a Thai EFL context. System, 32, 207–224.

Senior, R. (2002). A class-centered approach to language teaching. ELT Journal, 56(4), 397–403.

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