When I moved to Seychelles in 2006 to work for the local government there, my biggest concern was that my knowledge of the English language would not be adequate to be a successful teacher. When it came to the subject itself I felt confident enough I had the necessary skills. I had been teaching science for 6 years and was familiar with the program that I was going to instruct. Feeling a bit scared I entered the classroom the first day of the school year.
To my surprise I soon discovered that what I considered to be my ‘limited’ knowledge of English was in fact an advantage to my teaching. Students came to me and explained that they liked it so much I didn’t use all these difficult words in class.
It made me think back of the time when I was going to university, and how often I had gotten frustrated with professors explaining things using all these fancy words. When I was sitting there I felt sort of stupid, not understanding what clearly had to be something of great value and importance.
It was later during my studies I realised that being a good teacher isn’t about using fancy words, but often involves simplifying things. How can you expect somebody who is trying to comprehend something that is new to him, to grasp the meaning of it all if you make it even harder by using complicated structured sentences or words that are hardly used in an everyday conversation?
When I read Mother Tongue by Amy Tan, I had to think…