For years, I have talked to teachers about how teaching children to read involves three key components:
1) Developing a positive attitude toward reading
2) Acquiring the skills and strategies you need to be a strong and successful reader
3) Developing fluency
Of course all of this occurs within a strong, supportive, and caring community.
I'm only talking about this because now I am actually living it myself.
I'm talking Spanish every Tuesday night.
I'm not exactly a beginner.
But I'm not all that terrific either.
Right now our class is working on preterite (past tense) verbs.
And it's really hard for me.
There are five of us.
And I'm pretty much the worst one.
My teacher is great.
Warm and supportive and caring.
We have wine and homemade tapas every night.
The people in my class are really nice.
And every week, when I go to Spanish class, all I can think about is, "I'm not very good at this. "
I make way more mistakes than anyone else.
My pronunciation is awful.
I'm the oldest person here.I'm the worst one in the class."
And because I keep talking to myself that way
I think I am making Spanish a lot harder.
I know I could learn Spanish a lot easier
If I would just relax and stop talking to myself like that.
It really is all about the attitude.
I need to remember that when I'm talking to kids who struggle with reading
because they live that every day.
So true. I’m often called on to help translate/interpret for Spanish speaking parents at school. I know I am not really fluent in Spanish, but the more I think that way, the harder time I have coming up with the words I need. Just calm down and focus, and it is so much better. (Except over the phone! It’s so much harder without body language!) Good for you for learning a second language! And the idea that it is harder as an adult is a myth, because you have years of learning and strategies of learning to fall back on as you learn. Don’t give up!
Such an important connection! I watch my son struggle with reading, and part of the battle is the negative self-talk which shuts down his brain before he even begins. On those rare occasions when he is relaxed and enjoying himself, the reading comes much, much easier. But it's very rare for him to be able to read without a host of anxieties and anticipatory stress. It is so important that we keep that in mind as reading teachers and have some empathy for all of the extra beliefs and attitudes and past experiences that our students bring to each reading encounter.
Yes Carol, follow your own advice. :-) It is an adventure to learn a new language and you have all the connections to English to help you through. When I first took French in high school, I didn't have a clue about names of parts of speech. That made it hard for me to understand verb forms. Besides, tapas and wine every Tuesday? Sounds great!
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