I have been faced this week with a quandary – well I am faced with many quandaries most of the time, but this is the top one for this week.
I have been rambling around the blogosphere reading up about the idea of fixed and growth mindsets: I need to find out about these because they are important for foreign language learners apparently. If you have fixed mindset and believe that you don’t have a “gift” for languages, your approach to learning languages will be coloured by that belief. If you have a growth mindset, you will believe that with conscientious application and training, you will be able to acquire and control a foreign language.
But what about the person who totally believes in their ability to learn and control a foreign language, but they’re wrong? I have student this week who is convinced that he is a terrific student and that he has mastered the language. He isn’t and hasn’t. And no amount of telling him makes the blindest bit of difference. He double-checks everything he is told; he continues to make fundamental errors like saying “big-small” as one word; his stock phrase is “no problem” when there clearly is a big problem and he still thinks that “2 o’clock” means “two hours”. No amount of correction, subtle, direct or otherwise has occasioned any change or even any attempt at changing, fixing or even acknowledging the error.
How does one go about dealing with a fixed mindset that says, “I’m a terrific language learner and a very competent English speaker”? Is it maybe me that’s the problem?