July 27, 2010 by Willy Cardoso
“S.T. must be 55-60 years old. One of her daughters, who’s married with two children, lives in New Zealand, and S.T. will spend three months there with them, November to January. S.T. said that she had started many courses, even abroad, and also private classes, but nothing gave her the expected results. She added that she thinks she has a ‘trauma’ and that she can neither retain nor produce anything. So, she wants to know if we have a magic formula that can help her from now till October. I pass this over to you, so you can think of some possibilities. The meeting is tomorrow”, wrote the Commercial Manager to the Director of Studies / Course Designer, who just came back from this meeting and said “It’s 100% psychological”.
Isn’t there more to teaching than just teaching?
Are teachers qualified to deal with something like that? Labeled as psychological. Teachers, let’s say at a CELTA level, which is above average in the Brazilian context. Can they handle it?
I say, no, no, no.
So, what happens? Should the school try to help even knowing it doesn’t have the right resources? Or maybe it’s not a matter of resources; it’s a matter of language schools deal with language issues and not psychological ones? But then, who’ll tell this person she needs ‘more’ than English classes? Aren’t language, identity, culture, background, cognition, behavior, and so on in the same bag? Shouldn’t we be ready to handle this? Shouldn’t any teacher be ready to handle this?
How would YOU handle this?
If you’re a teacher, how would you teach S.T.? What would you do in the first classes, how would you plan these?
If you’re a teacher trainer, how do/can you prepare teachers to teach this kind of learner?