I was checking twitter when I saw one of the always great post from Brad Patterson. He was asking about How and Why we learned a language. He is asking a lot of questions lately, isn’t he? Here is my love and hate relationship with French language:
Being a child of immigrant Albanian parents here in Greece, my parents never had the chance to afford to pay for any foreign language lessons besides English language which was something that you had to do. The first touch with French came in junior high school where they were a part of the curriculum. My first impressions? Well, it was definetely not a love at first sight. I hated it because I could not anything pronounce properly and no one around had the patience to show the right way because most of the students already knew French from private lessons. So, I gave up trying and the teacher gave up on me.
Two years later, we had another teacher. She was really different from other foreign language teachers. She used to talk to us for hours about France, about Paris, french people, their habbits and even in L1. She used to bring her laptop and show us pics from her vacations in Paris, in Cannes or in Lyon. From a student who was really weak in French, I managed in one semester to become one of the best. She once told me that I have a real talent to foreign languages. What did she do to me? Of course she cultivated passion inside me. She gave me an inner motivation to learn this amazing language. This was the only year I learned some French. It was the last year of junior high and at the following year the teacher was again exactly like my first experience with French. She expected B2 level from her students and she worked only with the good ones. I was about A1 level. From romance to hate again!
Last year, I had the luck to visit Paris on summer for vacations and then on autumn for TESOL France Conference. And especially on my second visit, I knew it was time to give our relationship with French another chance! Maybe I gave up to easy. I loved Paris and I actually saw some elements that my favourite teacher used to tell us. As soon as I arrived to Athens, I arranged with a teacher to start immeadietly. At first, everything was easy and simple, then as things became more complicated started to be really difficult. (learning a language from scratch, not a piece of cake!). But know everything is amazing. My mind finally understood the French language system and I can learn much more quicker and efficiently. And I can say confidently, je t’ aime francais pour toujours.
My reflections as a teacher:
- Learning a language is really difficult. We should really understand that and get frustrated if our students did not understood at our first explanation the conditionals. It needs patience, repetition and lots of practice.
- There is an energy that a teacher passes to the student. When someone is actually learning? When s/he actually wants to. As teachers we have to find the way to make the students love the language. We have to cultivate an inner passion and motivation. They should think that I am in this classroom because my parents, or my professor wants it. I am here because I want to learn.
- You cannot understand your students better, unless you are in their position. All language teachers should try learn a new foreign language. It will make you understand things from your teaching that you could never understand.
- As a teacher, you cannot work only with a group of students that have more advance linguistc level than the others. Mutual indifference may be sometimes the easy solution but it would be very difficult for me to know that a child hated and never wanted to learn English because I did not dedicated some minutes per lesson to help him/her out with the problems which may have risen.
So what about you? How and why How and why you learned a foreign language? Brad is challenging you to tell. Here is his original post.