Sunday, 20 November 2016

A teacher's reverie

Greece south east

on a warm Sunday morning of November

and a feeling that time has frozen

There was a time when we learnt foreign languages without even having heard a native speaker. Of course learning was more difficult and relied on grammar and rules since exposure was extremely limited (some cassettes accompanying a course book).

 As in every situation, however, there was a silver lining: in my case English was a dreamland, the space where I could let my imagination run away with me, the space that I could populate with my fictional characters. In my early utterances of English there was a lot of mother tongue interference but also a lot of freedom of thought. 

Learning English meant distancing myself from a tedious reality, building bridges with the rest of the world, inhabiting a universe of fairytales where hopes for the future merged with ambitions of visiting the country where this marvellous language was spoken. 

The dream was fulfilled later on in life and took away all the magic but nothing can make  the memories of those times and the feeling of longing for places unknown waiting to be “discovered” fade away.

Today my learners are constantly exposed to English through music, films, sports commentaries. There is almost a surplus of exposure, which makes learning so much easier. So much less effort is needed to achieve fluency in a foreign language. Children have the opportunity to travel much more and they are possibly closer to considering themselves citizens of the world as the social media allow them to get into contact with people from far and wide. There are so many privileges that are taken for granted.

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