Imagine a room full of beginning language students. The teacher, wishing to introduce the objective for the lesson, proceeds to tell the students a lovely story of when she visited Italy. She explains in detail her frustration with trying to accomplish even the smallest tasks without knowing the language of the country. Her sweet story is both relevant and relatable. It is also wasted. The students of this class need to first grasp the mechanics, vocabulary, and comprehension of the language before grasping the life lesson from the teacher’s story.
When teaching, for example, the English language to students it is very important to remember the students’ level of understanding and keep all classroom discussion level appropriate. Take a moment to put yourself in the position of the student. Your goal, as a student, is to build skills that will help you master a new language, but the teacher keeps talking at a level that makes it almost impossible for you to understand. Often this results in either boredom or frustration. I feel the same way when trying to find a recipe online. I just want to know the ingredients, not the author’s cooking inspiration! Keeping all classroom instruction and conversation level appropriate allows the student to meet their goals. It is also more likely that the student will begin to grasp the basic language mechanics that are being taught.
By keeping conversation and discussion limited to an appropriate level, students begin to gain confidence in their language development. Conversations should follow patterns, encouraging students to make small variations building on their current knowledge. After teaching beginning level students for several years, I have come to the conclusion that speaking speed isn’t nearly as important when I maintain level appropriate language. By keeping my sentences simple, lesson relevant, and within the understanding of my students I am able to vary the speed of my speech.
So, remember, your story may have a very valid point, but the time with your students is probably better spent practicing sentence variations!