REaChing for the stars
Empowering English Language Learners
"It’ll actually be easier to learn a foreign language than to compete domestically." Says Dai Yoshida of Japanese youth ("Between Dreams and Discrimination, Japanese Build New Lives in the City by the Bay", Nicolas Gattig, The Japan Times, December 3, 2013.)
My colleague Robert shared this article with me and some graduates of KTC that now study abroad in the U.S. The article follows the stories of three different Japanese people living in San Francisco, and how they view and experience life in the U.S., and their native land of Japan. This quote particularly caught my eye, because it is an important thing for my students to hear, but, also, because I believe this could be said of American youth.
At the JALT conference I attended in November, one of the plenary speakers, Carline Linse, discussed the various ways in which multilingualism is an asset to our lives. Both in offering us different views of the world and ourselves, and by offering us numerous new job opportunities. There is tremendous capital in learning another language, and it doesn't apply only to the youth of Japan. However, for many, learning another language can seem an unimportant or impossible task.
If we are not lucky enough to be born into bilingual households or communities, live abroad, or to live in Europe (hee hee), than, we must take the initiative to learn another language ourselves. Our school systems don't do it successfully, but, it's not necessarily the fault of the schools, is it? For, learning another language means exploring the unknown and embracing alternate identities as we embrace different ways of communicating and viewing the world, and this is best done when we are immersed in that language. This article ultimately tells the tale of those who are willing to embark into the unknown by doing just that.
The question is, how can we encourage that exploration as teachers? How can we inspire self-motivation and self-discovery through language learning? How can we help students be open to