Why is it a good idea to be a language learner when you’re a language teacher?
Being a French language learner has been a tremendously satisfying experience for various reasons. The first one is discovering that I can communicate my ideas and thoughts, with some difficulty at the beginning, in another language that has always been a pleasure to hear. Secondly, being a learner again helps me, a teacher of English, to know how my students feel throughout the learning process. It allows me to put myself in their shoes. The third and last reason has to do with the learning methodology and the activities I use in class. Acting in the student’s role helps me realise what activities and exercises are more effective when it comes to learning a language and, needless to say, I can use this information to prepare my lessons more effectively.
These three reasons are equally valid and important but I think that, if I had to choose one, I would pick the first one. It is the one which helps me to empathize with my students and be able to understand them better, to really connect with them on a different level. Understanding what learning a language implies is no small thing since it puts us, teachers, in contact with reality and it brings us closer to our students. For instance, my experience as a student made me see how difficult learning a language is at the beginning, the importance of positive feeback from the teacher and time to express myself in class. This made my demands with my new students lower, giving them more time to express themselves in class autonomously and focus on positive feedback .
I am convinced that being a foreign language learner is a very rich experience that can bring many benefits to a language teacher. It is only necessary to become a student once again:).