lundi 31 janvier 2011

Lesson Planning and Conquering the Fear of Failure

I'm sorry I still haven't gotten around to doing the second part of my Paris post - oops! Soon though, this week sometime hopefully.

Anyhoo, a week and a half ago I had somehow forgotten I was taking a class all on my own (usually I am just there as an assistant with another teacher and she does the lesson planning and teaching and I do not very much).

Anyway she seemed a bit pissed that I'd forgotten and I nearly had a heart attack about teaching a ONE HOUR class with no preparation beforehand, and having to deal with really really weak students. Still, I did what she wanted (which was to go online and find a short video or audio article about the topic they were studying, play it back a few times and ask them if they understood and if not, to explain it) so I was pretty pleased with myself. I even managed to fill up an hour easily. Not saying it was easy though. It's always so painful when the kids are so bad at English.

A bit of a silly analogy but bear with me... before when I was younger I had braces which made brushing teeth difficult. And because I couldn't brush them properly my gums tended to bleed a lot. The dentists always say if your gums bleed you need to brush them MORE not less. It is a bit painful to do so but eventually if you keep at it, your gums will stop bleeding. And I haven't had bleeding gums for a long long time now...

So, it's like that with learning English (or anything really). The more you fear doing something, the worse the problem becomes. But if you just keep trying and keep at it, you eventually succeed and overcome the problem. The students who are best at English are ALWAYS the ones with the guts who actually try to speak whereas the rest just have a "I'm not good at English" attitude and never try, for fear or ridicule, failure or what have you. And it's not just my students either. So many people I know are like that with foreign languages. They tell themselves, "I'm no good at it" before they've even started and what happens is they create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I know this quite well because when I was younger I was hesitant to try lots and lots of things. Moving and living overseas would have been out of the question. I was scared of everything. But I decided to turn it all around and now I don't fear trying new things so much anymore. And the feeling of having conquered that fear is amazing. The feeling that I can actually speak French is amazing. The fact that I can swim is amazing (despite years of lessons as a kid I never really learnt how). The fact that I can go anywhere alone as a single woman and not be afraid.. and more... I feel so powerful and so much happier being less afraid.

That day I went ice skating, the 2 staff who I went with did not do it. Why? They were too scared! Pfft. A few of the students were scared too but at least they gave it a go. And then I observed the young kids. They were ALL fearless. They all had confidence and the ability to give anything a go. What had changed? I believe fear is something we learn as we grow older.

I also believe there are 3 types of people:

1. Those that just don't try at all because they are afraid of failure (they convince themselves they just don't need to do it)
2. Those that try, fail, and then never try again
3. Those that try, fail, but keep trying until they succeed.

Which one would you rather be?

I didn't intend this to be one of these new-agey inspirational type posts like the ones on The Positivity Blog for example but it's just the way I think now... If you've been reading Benny's Fluent in 3 months blog you'll notice he writes similar stuff like this all the time too.  I guess that's the secret to our success of conquering foreign languages but you can use it for anything in life.

(picture from here)


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