For the last 21 years, every year we celebrate World Teachers’ Day to support and empower our teachers from all around the globe. They are the foundation of a knowledgeable and educated society. We need to thank and appreciate them today and everyday for all their hard work and effort to make the world a literate place.
In order to celebrate World Teachers’ Day we would like to share a guest post written by Anna Breslavskaya, a language teacher, who shares her experiences of teaching, while also talks about her personal transformation from monolingual introvert to a polyglot language teacher.
They say that if you wish to become an expert at something, try teaching it to someone else. I can’t say that my goal ever was to become an English teacher, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been driven by the passion to learn foreign languages.
It may seem strange to some, but learning and being absorbed in languages is what keeps me going and gives me purpose. I love words. Discovering new ways to name an object or a concept is a passion of mine. I enjoy idioms. They are true treasures of people’s imagination, creativity and wisdom. I still get a kick out of the fact that I can express what I think and feel in 5 languages using different sounds, grammar patterns, and idioms.
The moment I started teaching I knew it was my cup of tea. For the last 6 years I’ve been giving lessons in English, German and Russian to adults online. I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to foreign languages, there’s one simple truth – no one can teach you a language, you can only learn it yourself. You would think this statement makes my job redundant, doesn’t it? Luckily, I stopped seeing myself as someone able to teach languages a long time ago. However, I believe I can show others how to learn a new tongue.
When a newbie takes up a foreign language, many questions arise. What should I start with? How should I learn new words? How do I start using grammar in real life conversations? How do I overcome the language barrier? How can I learn to understand what others say? When will the time come that I can bravely say I’m fluent? How can I get past the plateau stage? This is where my role as a teacher comes in, I’m happy to answer all these and other “how-to” questions, while also helping my students find learning strategies that work best for them.
Nowadays, when the whole world is at our fingertips, it’s easy to get lost in the constant flow of information. There are both fantastic and very misleading resources online. I try to show my students how to tell the difference between quality material and articles that simply waste your time.
Due to our human nature, knowing how to do things does not guarantee that we’ll accomplish them. Here is where my second role comes in as a language coach, to push and encourage my students to keep working. I try to create an environment where the learner feels accountable, responsible for his/her studies, while also being motivated and supported.
Are these the roles of every teacher of the twenty first century? I can’t be too sure that my methods are applicable to other subjects, but I know that in this age of information overload we are in need of human touch perhaps more than ever before.
Anna started studying English and German during her University years in Russia. It was still the age before the internet so learning mostly involved textbooks and classic literature. The languages acquired in an academic setting seemed a bit artificial, as students were not able to practice them in real life. Luckily the changes in the political situation of the country opened doors for people willing to go out there and explore the world. This is how Anna was able to forget about textbooks and break the barriers of language. She started travelling and working in English and German, she also picked up a lot of Hebrew while living in Israel. For the last year she has embarked on a wonderful journey to learn Spanish and hopes to reinforce her Chinese skills, which is a real uphill battle for her.
To read more from Anna check out her website and blog at: www.anna-edu.com