(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1LECKSN)
As teachers and educators it is very easy for us to sit back and be consumed with what we deliver in the classroom and be happy with the progress our students make. We give engaging lessons and ask for students to complete homework and try to practice outside the classroom. But do we really know what is going on with them as soon as they leave our classes?
For some of course as soon as they are out the door they are going directly back to their own native language in order to socially connect and build their life up in the way that is so familiar to them. However for each and every student, there is also a pocket (for some small for others very large) that still sits inside their head that knows they are learning English for a specific purpose. This ‘purpose-pocket’ (I will call it), is really what teachers and students need to understand.
If students are lucky enough to be learning English in a country that always speaks English at least as a second language, they are certainly getting a head start, however statistics how that in fact in the world today, the majority aren’t.
So I am going to ask that question again. What is the secret life of the ESL student?
A while ago I had the good fortunate of accidently dropping in on one of our students on a Saturday afternoon in their apartment and I was very surprised to find out what they were doing. They were sitting on the sofa in the living room with their laptop on their knee, and:
- listening to short youtube videos on how to make a conversation
- bookmarking websites that had good grammar games
- checking out our school facebook page
- checking out our school instagram pics
- tweeting 140 characters or less short notes to their friends in English
This surprised me, though of course looking at this it shouldn’t surprise me at all.
But what I did realise was how in the privacy of their home while no-one else is listening or watching…what is it that these students choose to do? They choose to connect with their technology and get into the ‘purpose-pocket’ of their life and see if they can learn just that little bit more to get them that one step closer to their dream of speaking English.
Of course you are laughing right now and saying…yes and I am sure they are downloading other things too….absolutely. But what I think we need to all realise is that as teachers, deep down all of our students are there for a reason and are hoping that with the help of you and their ‘secret-online-esl-life’ together they will reach their dream.