Okay, folks, this is Day 4. Monday. I had a lovely weekend. I did all my homework. I even did extra reviewing of the material from last week. I slept well. I had coffee.
But today I hit the wall. Just about 10:30 am this morning, about an hour and a half in to the first day of the second week, my mind went completely blank. Even staring at the board, at my book, at my notes, I couldn’t put phrases together. I understood the structure, I understood the grammar behind the structure, I understood the words, I understood the relatively simply task the teacher set before us.
But.Nothing.Came.To. Mind. Nichts. Nada. Zilch. Basically my mind was one big “WAHHHHHHHH!” Boy, did that feel like Hundkot (dog sh*t).
So this is a sliver of what it’s like, day in and day out, for beginning second language learners. Managing the academic content is one task, managing the emotions is another one, and in some ways, a more challenging one, as I am quickly learning.
The teacher noticed my state, and of course came to check in on me. I said I would explain after class, and I did. She is a lovely person, smart, a good teacher, a sympathetic human being. I told her, actually, this was the experience I was trying to have, that I had signed up for, that I wanted to learn from. But that didn’t make it any easier in the moment to cope with a room full (well, only ten, down from our original fifteen) of people looking at you, waiting for you…to…say…something. Not that they are all speeding along, not at all. The older Taiwanese woman, the chef, was equally frustrated. I caught the Australian’s eye and we both shook our heads. I’m not alone by any means.
Now, how to learn FROM this, how to translate this into my teaching practice. One thing is that two hours is a long time to sit. I think I will try to move my students around a bit more, even walking to the board helps. Also, I think it’s important to take breaks between oral work (listening, guessing, repeating ) and written work (looking at the sheet of paper quietly, doing some practice to reinforce). Personally, I’m having trouble with too much oral input at the moment, not enough reflective time. In my Foreign Service days, we called this “drinking from a fire hose.” You know you are gulping for all you’re worth, but a lot is still getting by you and sloshing down your clothing nonetheless.
Four days down, sixteen to go. I wonder when the fog will lift?