I didn’t complete my intended challenge this week. I debated whether or not to post this admittance of defeat, but I figured that it would be worse to not write anything at all.
Instead, I will leave you with a quick moment from today that made me so very happy.
This morning, I was printing worksheets for a later lesson when a 3rd year student approached my desk. This particular student is extremely motivated in English, and over the past year and a half, he has improved dramatically. He’s also one of the students I know the best, as he often asks to chat after school (he usually drags his friends along, too). When I first arrived in Japan, our conversations were slow and halting as he would pull out his cell phone again and again to look up new words. Lately, however, as we’ve been practicing for his upcoming EIKEN interview test, I’ve noticed how much easier it is for him to express his thoughts in English.
Anyways, this morning he asked me (in near-perfect English) if we could reschedule one of his EIKEN practices, which was easy to do. I also asked him about his driving lessons (he’s a 3rd grader, so classes ended for him in January and in the interim before graduation, he’s going to driving school like many 3rd graders) and he informed me, with a guilty smile, that driving is very difficult for him.
My supervisor overheard our conversation and she was genuinely shocked. She hasn’t taught this particular student for the past 2 years, so she hasn’t heard him speak English recently. She jumped up and praised the him for speaking English so naturally. He was embarrassed, but she continued to compliment him, because his speaking is so markedly improved. Her voice was loud enough to draw the attention of basically all the teachers around us, and the student received many proud smiles from everyone for his hard work.
Learning a language is a long, slow process, and acquisition usually happens so gradually that the people around you don’t always notice. Therefore, it made me so happy to witness the recognition of this student’s effort. And although he was definitely embarrassed from all the attention, I think he was proud of himself, too.