An important developmental exercise for any TESOLer is taking foreign-language courses yourself.
Even if you grew up in a multilingual home, the experience of being a beginner-level student in a completely new tongue is a lesson in humility. When your effortful cognitive machinations result in halted, marred sentences — when you can’t convey the ideas that flow so effortlessly in your L1 — you experience an empathy and profound respect for our students and what they’ve overcome.
If you haven’t yet enjoyed this bittersweet treat yourself, check out Sam Allingham’s great short story in The New Yorker, “The Intermediate Class.” Reading it took me back to my Korean night class in San Francisco, when Seonsaeng Kim’s gentle coaching helped me work through a serious case of foreign language anxiety!
The piece includes a bonus interview with the author. An insightful and entertaining read. Enjoy!