In such a short period of time I've learned so much about Chile especially about English-Language-Learners (ELLs) in the schools. I’ve also experienced how it feels to be a student learning a foreign language. Today, I had the pleasure of meeting some students from the Instituto Alonso de Ercilla. We shared similarities and differences regarding how we feel about learning a foreign language. For example, many of the students feel like learning English is important and enjoy speaking it. Others felt that they do not enjoy it much because they do not know enough vocabulary. Being a person who is fascinated by the different aspects of language, including sounds, words, sentences, and meaning from different dialects and registers of English. I have developed a newfound love for learning Spanish but I also understand how these students feel. Learning a new language is difficult and not being able to express yourself the way you want to is frustrating.
We discussed strategies the students currently use as well as ways to keep them motivated while learning English. Jose from the 11th grade expressed that he practices by watching movies and YouTube videos in English, which keeps him entertained. Another student, Diego, shared that he enjoys using his textbook as a guide when writing assignments for his class. We agreed that constant practice (repetition) and exposure is essential to mastering a foreign language.
This experience has reminded me that as a future speech-language pathologist it is important to take into account that all students learn differently (e.g. visual, verbal, physical, and aural) and to keep them motivated, activities must be tailored to their needs and interests. Last but not least, it has reminded me that the ability to communicate our thoughts, feelings, and needs effectively is a fundamental aspect of everyday life no matter what language we speak.