Scritto da speakitalianmagically.com il 16 marzo 2015
Imagine for a moment you had a teacher who uses a stick to teach… I know that this kind of teacher is anachronistic and that he wouldn’t last for long nowadays (he would be probably reported at the first opportunity), but imagine you had a teacher making you feel bad for not being able to learn his subject, insulting you and letting you feel hate against him and the subject… Imagine now that he is an Italian teacher, one of the teachers who still makes lessons of only grammar, grammar, grammar. Pretend that he even wants you to learn only with his method.
Have you done it? Have you imagined this kind of teacher? Now, do you think you would still be motivated in learning Italian or any other thing this imaginary teacher is trying to teach you in such a bad way?
Answer the last question and then use your imagination to “create” a a teacher who is really interested in your success, someone who puts you at the center of the learning process, someone who makes you feel at ease, someone who teaches you how to learn the foreign language and to rediscover the pleasure and the ability to learn on your own.
Between the two imaginary teachers, Which one do you prefer?
Keep in mind that the second teacher is not the kind of teacher who just praises you for the sake of praising. He gives you feedback… He can give you feedback the sandwich way; in other words he would be telling you what he liked about what you did (the bread), telling you what you should be improving (the ham), and finally giving you an overall assessment of your performance (some more bread). This teacher may, if you prefer, give you straight feedback (it depends on you). Or he can even use another way of giving you feedback, that is: telling you what he liked and what you should improve (he would tell you something like: “ecco quello che mi è piaciuto ed ecco quello che dovresti migliorare”). This second teacher would propose you new ways of learning, such as guided imagery, brain gym, shadowing, unusual and fun exercises, he may even use comics books (he has done it for ages), and it’s fun to be with him.
You may be thinking: come on, there’s no such a teacher! Maybe, but keep on playing with me and you’ll find out where I want to get at.
I’ll repeat the question I asked you before, but asking it in a different way.
With which of the two teacher do you think you will learn a foreign language in a more effective way?
I’ll tell you what I think: the first kind of teacher doesn’t do anything but increasing the affective filter of which Stephen Krashen, the famous linguist, talked about:
“The best situations for language acquisition seem to be those which encourage lower anxiety levels”
which in Italian could be translated as follows:
“Le situazioni migliori per l’acquisizione di una lingua sembrano essere quelle che incoraggiano bassi livelli di ansia”
In the light of the latest research this theory has been confirmed by the fact that, when a situation is perceived as stressful or generating anxiety, it activates the fight or flight system. When one’s nervous or stressed, he or she enters in the condition of “combatti o fuggi” that can happen when a lion is running toward us. The possible reactions in this circumstance are two: or we are so strong and bold to fight against the lion (fight), or we are so quick to to run away (flight). Surely it’s not the best situation to learn (consciously) or acquire (unconsciously) a foreign language, don’t you think? Learning and acquiring a language are two sides of learning that can be fun, it’s not about a lion wanting to tear you to pieces or a teacher scaring you! So, I strongly advise you to avoid the fist kind of teacher I wrote about like the plague, if you really want to reach your goal of speaking Italian very well!
As I write this article a story comes to my mind. It’s a story that I listened to somewhere and I’d love to retell you in a different way…
There was this teacher who managed to teach in a whole form, communicating at several levels and he had this student of him, who had been his apprentice for several years. The student couldn’t afford to pay for the lessons, but the teacher was happy to help him out giving him free lessons, letting him spend time with him, to absorb the skills that he had mastered so well.
One day, he even gave the student a gift: the handbook of the masterful teacher, to let him know that the time to separate had come. The student thanked him and accepted the wonderful gift. At that point the teacher asked: “How are you going to repay me? The student stammered: he didn’t know what to say… And the teacher began telling him a story: his own story.
He was a young boy who had health issues, couldn’t work manually, and couldn’t even pay for his studies. So he went and asked help from a wealthy relative of his. His aunt was eager to help him. She paid for his studies with a great teacher and he managed to learn everything he could learn. After doing it, he got back to his aunt to thank her and let her know about his success. The aunt asked him this question:”How are you going to repay me?” He stammered like the student did, but then his aunt told him: You can either repay me with money or… you can became a great teacher!”
The teacher, with a moving tear, chose the second option.
I don’t know why this story came to my mind, what I know is that I also, like the main characters of this story, chose the second option, knowing that this means that I will keep enjoying a process of constant improvement, day after day, knowing that there are things of my acting as a teacher of Italian for foreigner that I can and want to improve, moving daily toward the direction of the second kind of teacher I talked about today.
I am telling you this because I am really convinced that anyone who is in the teaching position, whether they are coaches, doctors, or humble “teachers”, should enrich and empower all the people they meet during their lives. And this is worth for all people we meet, even through the pages of a blog, letting them feel better and.. so, it’s important that you who are reading me, feel better and more responsible of what you are or aren’t able to do, trusting that if you apply yourself constantly, you’ll succeed, taking a step at a time!
Good, you have read all the article! Thanks for doing it, but, now, “How are you going to repay me?”
Perhaps you are smiling now, or you are stammering like the characters in the story I told you. In any case, know that you can repay me in two ways: you can either repay me with money, or… you can become better and better in what you do, even Italian!
P.s.: this is an adaptation of a former article of mine, published in Italian here. Enjoy!