What makes us want to learn and teach a foreign language?



Justyna: What happens between two people ( a student and a teacher) determines everything which means effectiveness, satisfaction, success. There are several ingredients of this positive alchemy between people, but to my mind  the most crucial are: empathy, liking, trust, and comfort.

Monika: I agree; I’d also like to add that all these elements  derive from altruism so necessary for this job and consequently from emotional intelligence. As Gustaw Holoubek said in his last interview: I prefer to be intelligent than intellectual”…


Justyna: Once a student of mine was a very busy doctor at the very mature age. He wished he had learnt to communicate in English in 3 months. He wanted to enjoy and use English during his lonely trip abroad. What a goal?! What a challenge?! And then how great the success was!!! So I think that a teacher should identify with his student’s goal completely. It has to be a shared goal stuck with involvement of both people.

Monika:  One condition: this goal must be realistic in order to avoid disappointments.


Justyna: I don’t want to motivate students. I want them to be motivated.

Monika:  Normally adults are already motivated and have a specific goal (foreign language for work or travelling etc…) but I think that children  and teenagers should be  constantly motivated as they rarely consider learning a new language a priority, something personal.  Unfortunately school is often to be blamed for that (at least in Italy …) by discouraging instead of motivating their students. An example of motivating: young children (and sometimes teenagers too) shouldn’t be  corrected  immediately after  they ‘d said something in a foreign language, it’s quite discouraging for them. It would be enough to repeat their sentence correctly  later (echoing) ; without even noticing it, they will  absorb the correct version and consequently make progress 🙂


Justyna: There is no one teaching programme or a universal course book, isn’t there?

Monika:I improvise a lot during my lessons (some funny situation  or humoristic phrase may always come up which  assures a good laugh ;).  Instead, the choice of material is quite precise; well, a student must talk about something, right? I try to adapt  the material to individual needs, also  ( at higher levels) using the multiple intelligent test  created by  prof. Howard Gardner; the results show the strongest and the weakest skills od my students (you would be surprise by the fact that there are teenagers whose musical intelligence in so low that there is no point doing songs with them as they even tell me that they don’t like songs). I have a very talented student in the last high school grade; her English skills are great apart from speaking…well she doesn’t like speaking, it’s just her character. People like her should be praised for every correct sentence they say, it gives them wings. I also remember a 14-year-old boy  who  is  not quite a chatter as well… he once said „I don’t like emotions” instead of saying „I don’t like emoticons” (plus serious face)  and that killed me!  :))) So I also made a serious face and I whispered „ You’re scaryyyy” and he just started laughing  so much that he cried 🙂 Since then he’s been chatting and joking like he was another person … just to have a good laugh.


Monika: It’s not my fault that I’m a mix of Irena Kwiatkowska and Bielickaplus some British humour ;  It runs in the family my dear  😀 By the way, some time ago I read a serious scientific article about teaching languages  with humour which means that somebody else noticed that an amused student is a motivated student whose blood runs faster in his brain and makes learning process smooth 🙂 When we learn a new language we go back to our childhood and children…love to laugh! 😀

Justyna: So it means that going to your lessons  requires wearing pampers :-))

* Monika is better than I am at two things: English and singing:).  She is an English teacher who combines wide knowledge with passion and she really enjoys teaching. Click here to see her profile at GoldenLine.pl.