We feel overwhelmed. Our students feel overwhelmed.
Instead of allowing ourselves and our students to feel that way, we should question what make us feel that way. Feeling overwhelmed cannot possibly be a normal human condition, the way we were meant to be.
We have bought into the idea that if we don’t feel overwhelmed then we are not working hard enough. And kids who don’t work hard enough are labeled as lazy and effectively shunned from the classroom community, isolated into the dumb kids pool.
But we know from the research that for languages at least it doesn’t work that way, that all kids can learn a foreign language magically, as long as they just hear and read the language enough.
What is so complex and overwhelming about that? They hear and they read, and then they start to write and speak. Eventually the language is acquired.
Key word there is eventually. Gradually. That’s what the research indicates. But who are we to pay attention to the research? We would rather work hard and then they will learn faster and we will thereby gain their approval.
No matter that admins come and go every 3 to 4 years. Then we have to do it all over. Getting people to like and approve of us is no way to get through a career.
We miss the point of the research, bc of this feeling that we need to always be overwhelmed so we can collapse at the end of each day and say we worked really hard.
Look. The acquisition process takes at least 20 times longer than we have in a four year program. We need to pay attention to that fact before we go into another year! We are not going to get them to fluency, not even remotely close.
What we can do is spark them to continue what we start with them, which is the opposite of what happens now, where millions of kids end each year in their study of a language feeling that they just aren’t any good at it.
We ignore two major parts of the research: (1) that they learn unconsciously by focusing on the message and not on the vehicle used to deliver it, and (2) how long it takes. We are given 500 hours (total time available in a four year program) when they need at least 10,000 hours.
We have 1/20th of the time needed and some of us, ignoring the research and not feeling comfortable unless we feel overwhelmed, work ourselves into the ground. For what? Because we like to feel overwhelmed.
When most kids see us doing that, so nervous that the learn, most decide that the right thing for them is to quit our programs and in many buildings a “four year program” ends up being a one or two year program and then we blame the kids who drop out as not being “cut out” for a language.
That’s professional malpractice.
The few kids who have bought into the overwhelmed feeling go with us, and we have just a few kids left in the fourth year. But in CI programs, upper level classes are exploding with kids. But it’s a different kind of overload. It’s a good kind of overload. And we end each year rested, not overwhelmed. How about that?
Our mental health has slowly over many years finally risen to the top of available topics in this internet space. It will stay there now, in first place, until we close up this shop. Why?
Because we need to stop feeling so overwhelmed in our jobs. We need to have more time for our loved ones, and for ourselves. How about that?