Teaching feels great again

I taught my first class again after an almost year-long break and boy does it feel wonderful. I’m  teaching two private students, both fantastic and motivated learners, and it looks like they’ll have no problem adapting to my new teaching style based on Krashen’s language acquisition hypothesis (tons of comprehensible input + personalization).

I now realize what a fool of a teacher I’ve been all this time: unfortunately the kind of brainwashing we all face at school is not easy to spot and it’s much harder to get de-conditioned.

This time I’m not teaching for money. I don’t need to take up loads of students just to get by anymore. This time I’m teaching eyes to eys and heart to heart. This is what language teaching has got to be. My classes will no longer be curriculum/textbook oriented, they won’t even be language oriented. They’ll be entirely about my students. I won’t be a parent or authority figure, instead I’ll be a coach, a mentor, a partner and co-creator.

I want to awaken my students, shake them up, help them dream bigger, motivate and inspire them; I want to see them believe they really can get fluent, no matter what they’ve been telling themselves all this time. From now on I’ll be completely empathetic with them. I will commit myself to getting to know them better, I will do all I can to make it about THEM not me or the language.

I plan to use a mixture of the focused-movie technique and focused reading as a way of getting tons of relevant comprehensible input during class. I will also encourage them to write out their language-learning goals, identify their passion and look for materials in English that reflect their interests and personalities. I will remind them to do a lot of free voluntary reading and listening and reduce the use of dictionaries and grammar to the bare minimum.

I will also use some techniques I’ve gleaned from “The Willpower Instinct”, a book by Dr. McGonagal I’ve been reading for a few weeks now. One of the first things I will ask them will be to start a blog or update their status on Facebook bragging about their progress in English thus getting an insane amount of support from their friends.

This is how we’ll keep the fire burning. Seen as something fun and emotional, English will no longer be intimidating; it will no longer be an object of study to be dissected and analyzed but rather a vehicle of genuine, heartfelt communication.

This is the only way to language mastery.

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2 comments

  1. Rachel · · Reply

    So excited to hear how it goes, Alex. Plus, LOVED the tips you offered in coming blogs. Have your books on my to-read list. Curious, does teaching offer you a mutual high to the life of passion and inspiration that you’re cultivating in your students? What else is bringing you those things right now?

    1. Rach, thanks for your questions. You can’t really stay in a permanent state of high but there are certainly some things that give me that. Teaching is one of them. It never feels like work anymore, now that I know what it’s all about. What makes me really excited about it is the realization that teaching is like art, a metaphor for my own life, absolutely and totally congruent with my outlook on life and that feels amazing. I’ll write more about it later, when I bring my confused thoughts in order.

      Besides, I’ve taken up cycling, which works for me perfectly, unlike iron-pumping in the gym.

      Not having to work long hours is fantastic!

      Feeling that the universe is ultimately is a very friendly place.

      What about you, Rach? Thinking of teaching? Or just curious?

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