I pride myself on being a good student and a mature grown-up with 45 years of perspective to bring to my learning experience, but it would appear that I haven’t changed an awful lot since I was about fourteen years old and almost decided to ‘bunk off’ my language class today!
Things started to go wrong when I missed the last class. I had a water-tight excuse and my lovely teacher dropped the missing lesson off at my house, but I began to feel (much like when one eats a chocolate bar half way through a diet – well on the second day of the diet – the second chocolate bar that is …) that I would never be able to catch up and that I would sound like an idiot in the next lesson. The logical approach would be to work harder on the material from the lesson that I missed, but the pages and the new vocabulary looked alien and ‘cold’ to me and despite a quick glance at it the night before, I didn’t touch it.
Then I managed to arrive late for the class this morning. The others had good-naturedly kept me a seat at the front, but I hadn’t managed to buy my morning coffee and without my caffeine fix I was a woman undone! I wasn’t in my usual seat (by the lovely warm radiator) and spent the first ten minutes shivering and feeling utterly miserable!
Thank goodness for the class! Within minutes, my ambivalence had turned to guffaws of bawdy laughter as we came up with (no it wasn’t just me) some particularly naughty ways of remembering our ordinal numbers “Think of multiple births = quinto/a – then think of what comes before = sexto/a … and so on! I began to warm up, got a cup of coffee during the break and ended up having a really enjoyable morning.
I’ve chosen to write about this, because I find it such an odd reaction – particularly after my excitement when I started just a few weeks ago. I’m really not sure that I wanted to go to my lesson today and I believe that despite being a confident linguist and advocate of just ‘having a go’, I was scared of getting things wrong in front of the others. Also, the fact that I was unable to satisfy my primordial needs of sitting as close to a source of heat as is humanly possible and having coffee on drip meant that I felt literally out of place and out of sorts. Many teachers will be familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs http://www.teacherstoolbox.co.uk/T_maslow.html, but I wonder if most learners are aware that unless you’ve satisfied your basic needs (warmth, shelter, food etc) before your class, you won’t be learning your vocabulary any time soon.
So what can you do if you find yourself in the same situation? 100% attendance isn’t realistic, so I’m going to ask one of the learners if she’ll swap email addresses and phone numbers and help me catch up if I miss another class. Now that I’m aware it can get chilly in the class room I’ll make sure I bring an extra jumper and even if I am late, I’ll come via the coffee counter and blame my tardiness on the atrocious service wink emoticon!