Tui was first with the news – as usual – even before dawn. Then, in an instant, the morning sun, which yesterday had to shaken grumpily out of its slumbers, was blazing through the ranchsliders, daring me to press ‘snooze’. And last night’s rain had miraculously metamorphosed into an exuberant rainbow. All the signs agree – SPRING has finally sprung! Sorry World, it’s our turn now. And we can’t wait!
Do lessons also have seasons? How can we awaken those seeds of learning? I don’t think I’ll ever match the razzamatazz preceding my one-to-one lessons with a South American banker. As Rich Hall observed (on page 54 of Global pre-intermediate), organisational status depends on where your name is: if it’s on your badge, you’re poor; on the desk, you’re middle class; on the building and you’ve made it! This student’s name was on the multi-storey building, not to mention the park opposite (well, strictly speaking, it was his grandad’s name). In any case, we shared a common disdain for normal means of transport: car, motorbike, train, bus were not for us! I cycled into the city centre and was, exceptionally, allowed to park my modest wheels in the subterranean car park, watched over by extras from the film ‘Men in Black’ – while my student descended by helicopter onto the roof, dressed as if attending the Oscar ceremony. We met somewhere in the middle, greeted by a uniformed waiter with two glasses of water on a silver tray. Unfortunately, the rest of the lessons failed to live up to the Hollywood opening.
The year may be springing into life and song, but my blog is on its last, unsteady, wintry legs. One of the most thought-provoking concepts I’ve come across in language teaching is Michael West’s idea of surrender value: at any level, what matters is what you are able to do now; so treat every lesson as if it were your last. Even though pre-intermediate level seems like the beginning of a long journey, for a great many students it is the destination. I like the fact that Global treats our language travellers seriously, encouraging them to ‘function globally’ with the language they have. Let’s discuss what really matters, not the baby stuff – and now, not when we are ready. We never will be. Let’s work, live and love with all the urgency of the tui’s song. The future is now.