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Back behind a Desk – learning a new language

Well I’m on business/holiday right now but in Portugal‏‎ – a country I’ve never visited before. I always think it’s a fascinating experience to be in a place where you know nothing at all of the language. It immediately reminds you what it is like to be a complete beginner.

And that’s something every teacher needs once in a while I think!

  • There’s the slight fear of saying anything in case it’s not understood at all or in case you make a major mistake.
  • There’s that close listening to try and understand what is being said, searching for a known word in what is, effectively, just a stream of sound.
  • And there’s the pleasure of seeing something (or more rarely of hearing something) which makes sense.

Watching the advertisements on television last night I was reminded how useful they are in presenting language: they are short, repetitive and get across simple messages with both visual and verbal elements. There must be a way to use them in class!

Anyway, the point of this blog is that it does all teachers good to take time out now and again and put yourself in the position of a complete beginner. We might be standing at the front of the class thinking we are using perfectly good explanations and examples and the class must understand what we are saying… but a few minutes on the other side of the fence and it is definitely never as easy as all that!

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