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For most people to take on something new involves change, and the more set in your ways you are the more difficult it is. So I have always thought that the whole ‘learn English – it’s easy’ or ‘Easy English classes’ etc, are all lies, lies, lies. Why do we do this to people we really need to tell the truth – it isn’t easy, and it takes time and hard work.
So what I was thinking is that perhaps we need to change the way we look at the word easy. Easy usually means ‘comfortable’, something that will come naturally, something that has a good feeling attached to it. But these are all words that don’t request much shift in a person. Imagine sitting down into a relaxing comfortable chair, it’s just about getting yourself there and not having to move.
What we need to do is to rethink the opposite. Learning something new is……uncomfortable. The adjective being ‘discomfort’. Let’s say ‘Learn English and feel the DISCOMFORT’. Somehow it just doesn’t have a nice ring to it. But we need to make it have a good feeling. How do we actually do that?
The word nowadays is changing so fast due to technology, so we as teachers need to understand that if you are over 40 chances are the way you were thinking as an 18 year old is not the way the average 18 year old thinks today. In fact 18 year olds today expect ‘discomfort’, because the technology that they had last month has now been surpassed by something even more amazing. Change is now so inbred in the young, that in fact to feel a feeling of discomfort is not only natural it is straight to unacceptable if you don’t.
The young people today understand change in a way that we older people can never. They understand that nothing is static and that everything will eventually become something else. This is the ‘new normal’. So learning anything for the young today is a lot easier than it was when we were young.
‘Discomfort’ is the new normal. To the young person ‘discomfort’ means excitement, change, dynamics and more than anything (if you are a teenager) you will be at the forefront of all of this.
So let’s introduce this new dynamic into ESL classes. Make them constantly uncomfortable but with a twist, the twist meaning – this is exciting, this is the new normal and this is what is going to get you places.