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You may not think that a Language Centre and the popular TV series “Fear Factor” have anything in common. In fact, they both encourage people to confront and conquer their fears! And at ELS Language Centres, Kuala Lumpur, students did exactly that when they participated in a recent special competition entitled “Fear Factor: Fear of English”.

Students come to ELS from many different countries, mostly to improve their English in preparation for college or university, while others come to brush up their language skills for work. One of the most valuable things that students can gain while studying in ELS is a new-found confidence to speak in English. When a student arrives, he or she might be afraid of making mistakes or of not being able to express himself. But ELS prides itself on getting students to speak confidently. This is achieved through communicative activities, group-work, dramas and role-plays that emulate real-life situations.

To see which students had managed to master their fear of English, the Fear Factor competition was organised at the end of term. Fifteen students competed for the chance to be crowned Fear Factor Champion. To progress beyond the qualifying round, the participants were put through physical and mental challenges. The following rounds involved a scavenger hunt (which had some students running to KLCC to find things!), and an eating challenge before the final Ultimate Challenge. This was very simply a realisation of any language-learner’s greatest fear: to maintain a conversation with a native speaker!

Despite three native speaker teachers doing their best to speak fast and fluently with plenty of slang, the final three contestants proved worthy of the task. They persevered for five whole minutes, even when the teachers teasingly said things like “Sorry?”, “What did you say?” and “I don’t understand what you mean.”

The title of Fear Factor Champion was grabbed by Loy Kew Wai of Malaysia, with Eileen from Malaysia and Abdullah from Saudi Arabia finishing in second and third place respectively. The three students received prizes, but most of all they went home with a sense of confidence in their English language abilities, just like all students who invest their time and effort in studying English at ELS Language Centres Malaysia.

ELS Language Centres, Malaysia was set up in 1990 and has served more than 100,000 students from over 50 countries. Like its parent company in the USA, ELS Language Centres, Malaysia has quickly gained recognition as a leader in providing quality English Language programmes.