I went back into the classroom last week. Not as a teacher (that happened about a year ago) but this time as a student.
I started learning Portuguese again. Why would anyone who works a 70 hour week want to add more activities to an already bulging schedule?
There are a number of reasons…
1. I’ve given myself the challenge this year of adding more languages to the list. I speak English and Spanish well but there are a few old friends that I want to get re-acquainted with. After 15 years living in Mexico a bit of homesickness has crept in and I’d like to get back my terrible Irish and bring it forward to a level where I can have a conversation. After all, I did start learning it at the age of 4 and got my high school certificate in it when I was 18. So… if there are any Irish teachers out there somewhere in Mexico City, please give me a bell! French – we’ll always have Paris. And Portuguese, a language that keeps coming back into my professional life even though I live a 9 hour flight away from Sao Paulo.
2. There’s a new one I want to learn – German.
3. I want to put myself in my students’ shoes. I want to know what it’s like to work 70 hours a week and have to put in the effort of taking 3 hours classes a week plus homework to learn a language that you don’t speak at home but that you want to speak for professional/personal reasons.
4. A teacher who can’t learn can’t teach. Period.
5. Stave off alzheimer’s.
So, what was it like going back into the classroom? A joy. It was fun; I rediscovered what it was like to learn a language for the first time, to make mistakes, to feel the satisfaction of being able to say something, no matter how basic.
I’d recommend this to anyone – and not just as a sterile tool for getting from A to B. Learning a language deepens your perception of life.