Thursday, March 29, 2007

Languages - A Star Trek-like Journey?

No matter how wonderful we may be as teachers – and no matter what fabulous techniques we have learned and tweaked and refined – chances are, our students won’t really be learning Spanish (or any other language) unless they want to learn it.

We might be teaching them, yes, and they might also be performing well – and of course, our skills are crucial here – but are they really learning? And even more important, are they craving more?

Are they becoming lifelong learners who want to embark on a Star Trek-like journey to seek out new contacts in the language and culture?

Do they tune the radio to the Spanish station when they’re in the car? Do they switch to a Spanish program on their televisions at some point during the day? Do they have French, Italian, German, Chinese, Russian or Japanese popular music on their iPods? Do they make an effort to greet and converse with native speakers in their town? Do they see themselves visiting the countries where the language they're studying is spoken?

Do they see that languages all around them and can enrich their lives and their experiences every day?

Our goal as teachers is to spark that motivation in our students.

But how do we get there?

We need to take language study out of the classroom and into real life, and we need to bring real life into the language classroom. That's the motivation behind Chispa.

It's a journey well worth taking, for all of us. And it's not just worthwhile – it's fun!