How much English JOY did you BRING into the day today?

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I read an interesting article today about Donald Trump.  The angle of it was ’the 70-day joyless presidency’.  For me I’m not getting into a debate about Donald Trump, but I do see some similarities in the way he approaches things and learning something. So, for this post I’m going to focus on the learning of English and how joy is an important part of the process.

In terms of the approach of Donald Trump to his progress, he seems to follow these 5 key rules:

  1. Make promises, no matter what they are or how impossible they are
  2. Keep only loyal people around you who will tell you what you want to hear
  3. Blame everyone else except yourself for whatever happens
  4. The perception of the results are far more impressive than anyone knows
  5. Whatever happens never give in to anything or anyone

It made me think about how it correlates to many situations I’ve seen in the classroom and how some students succeed well and others don’t, often (though not always) because of these 5 things.

Let’s take a look at these 5 points again in terms of the average achiever and underachiever in learning English. (I will point out that not all of these factors can be attributed to everyone, but for sure every under achiever will have at least one to tick off.

  1. Make promises, no matter what they are or how impossible they are
    1. The successful learner will: make a manageable promise, be able to clearly state it, measure it and evaluate it truthfully
    2. The unsuccessful learner will: make a promise (often to parents or people not in the class with them) and cross their fingers and just hope it happens without any input from themselves. E.g. I will be the best ESL speaker in the class

 

  1. Keep only loyal people around you who will tell you what you want to hear
    1. The successful learner will: keep loyal people around them who will tell the truthfully what they need to hear not necessarily what they want to hear.
    2. The unsuccessful learner will: keep loyal people around them who will tell them how great they are no matter what

 

  1. Blame everyone else except yourself for whatever happens
    1. The successful learner will: give a carefully thought out appraisal of what is happening and give a balanced and fair opinion on what is happening, including if they are to blame or not.
    2. The unsuccessful learner will: make sure everyone else gets the flack and not them.

 

  1. The perception of the results are far more impressive than anyone knows
    1. The successful learner will: trust that the results they are given by their teacher are fairly dealt out, if not they are willing to question and follow through by asking the reasoning behind them
    2. The unsuccessful learner will: discount any poor test scores as due to the poor teaching/class/school they attended and make sure no one they knows goes there.

 

  1. Whatever happens never give in to anything or anyone
    1. The successful learner will: keep this adage in mind in terms of determination only. They will know that sticking to the course is the way to get ahead.
    2. The unsuccessful learner will: never give in to anyone who thinks differently to them as they are not as informed as they are about their personal situation.

 

The outcome of this approach is clear, particularly in terms of the attitudes of each of the two. Even though the successful learner may not always succeed and often questions the outcome, they are generally a happier person than the unsuccessful one who seems to put their own walls up along the way. The ability for this second person to genuinely get ahead is extremely limited and they would be wasting their money to continue learning at…any school.

But the most important part to see is that the successful learner is really a joyful learner, every day is filled with passion and determination and celebration and commiseration if necessary.  The unsuccessful learner has a joyless experience and is probably a difficult one to teach also.

I think we often forget to emphasize the joy of learning and how much impact joy has on being successful. So something to ask yourself as both a teacher and a student…how much joy did I bring into the classroom today. This kind of simple attitude can make all the difference.

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