Language teaching is a process of building the conscience of language. It’s thus part of the teacher’s job to set this way on.
Not everyone can teach a language. As to teach it, one does not only need to know how to use this tool, but it is necessary to be aware of the language itself and to know how to find the ways to show this knowledge to others. The learners expect to deal with a content at the same time edible and engaging, so the teacher is to offer them the proper analysis that makes possible eating this elephant: a steak at a time. Teaching a second language is less an activity of instructing on instrumental processes of a new tool’s operation principles than an experience of coaching in which the teacher performs a role both of an instructor and a leader to inspire the learners in this new way of living.
Human beings are victims of the environments societies create through their tools of meaning: our very personalities result from the impacts such meanings have upon us and the knots they form, as gravitational fields pulling and pushing our thoughts, mindsets, gestures, and words
A great deal of it relies on the fact that a language is not a simple communication tool. It is not a telephone you know how to use and that is all you need to operate it. Every language constitutes a cultural framework by which the participants of a community build not only their relationships and worldviews; languages are ways of building ourselves. Through such communication tool, people create means of identifying themselves: they can act upon one another, they can create truths, misconceptions, and very specific ways of expressing emotions which very often are not similar to other languages. Human beings are victims of the environments societies create through their tools of meaning: our very personalities result from the impacts such meanings have upon us and the knots they form, as gravitational fields pulling and pushing our thoughts, mindsets, gestures, and words. As a black-hole for a star, we cannot escape.
Prior to teaching a language is important to be aware of the patterns a language form, regarding both its grammar and its meaning production. This language awareness reflects on the varieties a speaker can code-switch to and, in which it concerns to TESOL, it is also indispensable for the teacher to understand and consider the learner’s mother tongue. Consciousness of language is to be built from the perceptions and comparisons possible from the mother tongues and the English language in its standard varieties without never forgetting the impact specific codes have in both languages. Here TESOL resembles the translation process which has the same concerns between source and target languages. It worth mentioning too that English acquired an international character permeating many cultures worldwide, being adapted and incorporated by a number of languages/cultures where it sometimes has created sort of lingua franca environments.
[it] is important to be aware of the patterns a language form, regarding both its grammar and its meaning production.
Analogous to one’s personality assembling from the meaningful vertices formed in the mother tongue environment, which provided the substratum to the embodiment of language, the second language is to be treated equally, yet progressively. The starting point for every TESOL class should consider a progression from the mother tongue in a diglossia state to a full English environment. Such a process is to build, this time thoughtfully, learners’ own thoughts and worldviews in the new language, making them live English with their own bodies’ physical experience. This way it can be possible to reinforce and to adapt the neurocircuitry which neurolinguistics says to be responsible for building the strong relationship between thoughts/expression and the language we were raised in.
The knowledge’s construction on the second language is not, as mentioned, a simple progression from zero to hero, as learning to drive a car. Yet it has a recursive property: both previous knowledge and new language input are used in a swinging process to develop one’s communication skills. Recursiveness works by contrast and comparison and it has a major impact on learners’ motivation and awareness of both the languages and their own development. The teacher is also responsible for keeping an eye on students’ motivation and development so to sustain the continuity of learning. Thus, a teacher should yet be conscious of the social relationships coming into place; it is the teacher’s responsibility mediate and control the social pressures and constrains within the classroom. This way it is possible to understand each learner’s difficulties and provide them with the proper stimulus and reward. Sometimes it is difficult for a teacher to measure how far he should go on pushing their students forward perfectionism. Accepting and understanding difficulties is also a matter of being tolerant towards “imperfection”; though it is part of the teacher’s job, for instance, to be aware of the acceptable limits for non-standard pronunciations.
The previous text was written as to fulfill the first week assignment of the course Teach English Now! Foundational Principles, by ASU (Arizona State University), I’m attending at Coursera. This first assignment required us to think on the following assumption: Anyone who speaks the language can teach the language.
Coursera has granted me a helpful Financial Aid to attend this course; without it, I don’t believe it would be possible to pay for the certificate. I’m very grateful for that. As a result, if I can share any interesting idea about TESOL that can contribute to the enhancement of English teachers’ practice anywhere, this text can be freely used, adapted, modified, expanded, etc.
Awareness as Key to Master Second Language Teaching by Flavio H.Ferreira is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://ploftblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/awareness-as-key-to-master-second-language-teaching.