Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

My word for 2014….”Opportunity”


Brass Doorknob As my #langchat colleagues discussed their ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ for 2014, I noticed that many chose a ‘word’ for their year. I have been thinking a lot about my work this year. I have been trying to balance my quest for ‘better’ with my ‘chances’ to incorporate new things. At times, given the creativity and expertise of the #langchat PLN, it can feel like I am never ‘good enough’ at what I am doing.

I tossed around a lot of words in trying to find my 2014 mantra. “Perservere” , “engage”, “incorporate”, “improve” and more. Many of them seemed to be, to me, negative and imply that I was somehow falling short in the classroom.  None of them seemed particularly to be about my students.  So I looked around again – for a word that would give me hope, allow me to try (and occasionally fail) and be, honestly, ‘do-able’

Opportunity. That’s it. The word. It’s my goal for the year. What kind of opportunities am I looking for?

My students will increasingly have the opportunity to ‘choose’ how they demonstrate knowledge. They will also continue to have the opportunity to hand in work on-line – and have it marked and returned in the same format. I will continue to give them the opportunity to stretch their knowledge by challenging them to communicate – where the Target Language is the tool that is used to accomplish a task, solve a problem etc.

More specifically I will continue to seek the opportunities to substitute the “authentic” for the “not as authentic” materials when I can. Japanese as a second language, with 3 orthographies that includes more than 1800 Chinese characters (if you are a fluent reader) has its particular challenges.  But I do know that language can be experienced visually and orally – with just as much impact as text brings.  I will find opportunities to interact more with these real materials in my classroom – from commercials, to songs, to anime clips and drama scenes. Authentic doesn’t mean ‘must be able to read/understand it all” – it means derived from a realistic source.

Having such an awesome PLN can be intimidating at times and bring up self-doubt as to the job that I am doing. There are so many amazing teachers that share their ideas and, at times, I feel that I am inadequate to be a part of their PLN. So – Opportunity. For me, in my life I will see that new ways, new units and new technologies are great opportunities but not ‘must be done this minute’ necessities. That is,  with my limited time, and an actual personal life, I can’t be reinventing everything all the time.

A new year brings with it all sorts of opportunities. I’m going to take them where I can find them…




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