Oh, the places you’ll go! – language learning and soft skills for the future
When I was a child, there was a job position called a typist, a position that does not exist anymore. Many years ago, we had this thing called a Walkman and it played a cassette tape which we brought from a music shop. Nowadays, we purchase music straight from the Internet onto our devices. Oh, hang on, downloading music is so yesterday. We now use Apps such as Spotify, Tidal and Pandora to listen to music.
Welcome to this forever changing world.
In our job as teachers, we vow to guide our boys with the knowledge they need to learn and guide them as they explore the world for as long as we can. Apart from higher grades, good education, the skills to do many great things, we value the importance of the soft skills – the skills that will help our boys to be flexible, to work in a team environment, to navigate an unknown situation calmly no matter where they go. Most importantly, these types of skills cannot be taken over by robots.
Of course, I can dedicate this article to talk about the bells and whistles on the latest cool apps to enhance the boys language learning, but at some point in time, we have to come back to the original question, WHY? Why learning another language, other than the mother tongue, will develop the boys soft skills? How to approach it? What can parents do to help?
We all need to step out of our comfort zone in order to make progress. Learning another language and using that language to communicate with others and gently push a person outside his/her comfort zone. Throughout the process, mistakes will be made, embarrassing moments will occur and moments of frustration and anxiety may accompany the learners. What can our boys learn from this? Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out – strong work ethic; empathy – treating people with respect, especially people who cannot speak your language; be positive – forge a growth mindset towards learning; and last but not least, a communicator – including a person with an active listening skill, as one can’t be good communicator without good listening skills.
You know what? When the boys arm themselves with the right soft skills, as Dr Seuss wrote: You will be on your way up, you will be seeing great sights, you will join the high fliers who soar to high heights… Oh the places you will go!
Eva Angel – LOTE Teacher