Wecome back to the ETC International blog. As I said last week, when I was lacking in confidence in my early years of teaching, I decided to do something about it! Believing falsely that I was teaching a ‘subject’, English, I forced myself to learn ‘about’ it. In short, to learn about ‘grammar’. This is probably what most people do in this situation, possibly because we are conditioned to learn in this way from an early age. Of course, I started by looking at grammar books and trying to learn ‘rules’. Although I’m not ‘knocking’ it completely, I realised later that what I should have been doing as well, if not necessarily ‘instead of’, was actually ‘thinking’. Funnily enough, this was the theme I started with when I began the blog in September 2017! A lot of water has flowed under the bridge on our blog-journey of discovery since then, and we seem to have come full circle.
Thinking about language and how I used it, is what I should have been doing, not just trying to memorize what other ‘experts’ were telling me through their ‘grammar books’. Here is a quote I wish I’d found earlier in my career; it’s by Leo van Lier in his book ‘Introducing Language Awareness’:
“Language awareness does not mean sticking your nose into a grammar book or textbook in a more intense manner, rather, it means looking up and around, and pricking up your ears to hear and appreciate the language around you.” How true! If only someone had told me earlier! I then found another quote from Richard MacAndrew: “The three things we all need are ‘open ears’, ‘open eyes’, ‘open mind’, but the most important of these is ‘open mind’.
Had I followed this advice earlier, I believe I could have developed more quickly and would now recommend teachers and learners alike to take heed! More on this next week. J