Yesterday's post, and the ideas behind it, has prompted quite a bit of interest among my colleagues and over on one of the discussion boards I frequent, and got me thinking further too. This morning, I did a bit of thoroughly unscientific research with my L1 (that's an intermediate-upper-intermediate level) and E3 (pre-int - int level) classes. I asked them, first 'does speaking in English ever make you feel depressed?'
The answer was almost unanimously 'yes', except for one student who just giggled. Mind you, she does tend to giggle at pictures of kittens, handbags, passing clouds and occasionally while staring blankly into space, so...
I then asked 'why?'
You can probably guess the types of answer - embarrassment, fear of mistakes, frustration, etc.
I then asked, 'are there any situations which make you feel particularly embarrassed?'
Here the answers were varied. For a significant portion, it was talking on the phone: others mentioned more formal social situations such as going to the bank or talking with their children's teachers. A few of the more confident students said that they couldn't answer colleagues back in more formal meetings.
I then asked 'What situations/things would you like to talk about, but feel you can't?'
Here the answers were varied, ranging from talking to the council about housing benfits, to discussing schoolwork with a teacher, up to talking about politics, environmental issues, dance and music.
Lastly, I asked 'do you sometimes feel as though you are disabled?'
A unanimous 'yes'.
and 1 giggle.
The finding that most interested me was the one about which things people would like to be able to talk about. It shows, I think, that the level at which students would consider a conversation 'deep' and 'satisfying' vary enormously. It's no wonder that language learners do get so demotivated.
It's also set me off on what may turn out to be a rather exciting tangent of thought, but I'm going to have to put in a bit of research first. More later.
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