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My mother was a music teacher….

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….she taught people to play the piano. Young people, old people, boys, girls, little people, big people and anyone in between.

She was masterful – she used to say, wistfully, “Even if I had to pay them, I’d need to do this.”

She had two rules:

She would not accept anyone who didn’t have access to a piano outside the lesson.
If her students showed signs of not having practised since the previous lesson, she sent them home to practise.

….and it seems to me this is what we should be doing as language teachers. Without practice, it’s merely theory….

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4 responses »

  1. I know how tempting it is to draw that parallel, but it seems to me there is a difference. Learning the piano during the early stages is essentially a mechanical skill involving muscle development. Without practise, progress is not possible.

    In the unfortunate reality of many of my students’ lives, they are simply too busy for study outside class. Of course that means progress is slow, but do we turn them away? After all, there is likely to be progress of a sort providing of course that they fully engage with learning during the short time that they are in the class.

    Reply
    • Hi olibedall
      I hear you….it is the perennial dilemma. But, there is a part of me that wants to makes students take more responsibility; be more determined; focus more on what they want to accomplish. I would never turn a student away, but I do let them know that I cannot shoulder all the responsibility for their progress and if they don’t practise, they won’t improve.
      I also feel there is an element of mechanical skill in speaking. Getting one’s tongue around some of our sounds and chunks takes some work! Many of my students complain about sore jaws after their first day. I tell them the more they practise, the looser and more flexible their jaws will become……

      Reply
  2. Thanks Oli!
    Candy

    Reply

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