Why should I study English?


“Why should I learn English? 

I feel very comfortable to speak my own native language.

Everyone around can understand me.

I enjoy chatting with my friends in my own language…

That is enough for me, ok?”

It is not uncommon for a teenager to speak similar words when a parent offers them to go to a summer school to learn English. It is very common for teenagers -and not only- to stay quiet within their safe zone.

Why should I bother to learn more English if I get already bored of English all year around?

We adults are always trying to find a motivation and give a rationale in the attempt to turn the fire on on our kid; so, we would say: because it is good for your job opportunities; it is good for travelling; it is good for communications; it widens your cognitive horizon; it even slows dementia, apparently…

A recent survey confirmed all those reasons and revealed that most people study English because they believe that English may expand their career prospects. 

Does any sermon on the convenience of learning English change the lack of interest of some teenagers?

I doubt it.

Rational motivations do not fire enthusiasm

If you mention those motivations one by one, I believe that a teen would feel no excitement. Even the finest device with electrodes applied on the head and heart of a teenager, would return a flat line I guess. It will surely go flat, if applied to me…

All motivations make sense for us adults, but we have to consider that every age needs a different approach and all ages need a spark, capable to turn the fire on. 

That spark is generally  coming from another human being rather than from explanations. My dear father tried to convince me to become a teacher when I was 14, showing me all the benefits and advantages of being a teacher. He had those motivations. But he forgot they weren’t mine.

So, when a motivation becomes a good spark to take initiative and decisions?  

I am reluctant to set a date for the age of motivations, whether we speak about English learning or other topics.

A child embeds all potentials since the start of their life. So, in theory you can activate those potentials at any time, but speaking about our wonderful motivations doesn’t feed a teen.

Let’s take as example the nutrition: we wouldn’t feed a new born baby with black pudding or lasagne, would we? 

And we don’t offer a bottle of baby milk to a young person, do we?

It is a matter of common sense.

Our task is to accompany our children, nourishing them with the appropriate food and helping them make the appropriate step at each stage of development. 

I would say that until the puberty or even farther, a child or a young teenager doesn’t really make a choice based on motivations, but eventually on what they like or dislike. 

The rites of passage

The age of puberty indeed marks a caesura that will lead to the blossom of young gentlemen and young ladies who will be eager to seek motivations, ideals, purposes for their life. But first, they have to go through some steps.

Around the age of puberty, old civilisations set the rites of passages, that often included tests of physical endurance and symbolic ceremonies to initiate the young people to the next step of development. 

Rituals were -and are- still performed by religious leaders at certain ages and circumstances. 

A modern educational path may offer our kids the experiences that may recall the ‘rites of passage’ and may be good for our time. A modern educational path may raise the awareness that he or she is entering a new stage o development. This would be the stage where self-leading, discovering own interests, motivations and purposes may come to light with more evidence.

How do adults may help kids build up their choices?

As adults we need to be aware of the purposes of what we are doing.

We analyse the benefits and advantages of our options. 

The findings of our researches would help us take decisions -not necessarily the most “convenient”- and choose, for instance, the educational path we want for our kids.

We need to be aware that the reasons for our decisions and choices, is not a reason for our children to love what we decided, to love school we chose, to love subjects we offer.

Those reasons are ours, not theirs.

This should be clear in our mind.

When we see a child or a young teenager being apathetic, grumpy, not interested, we might get irritated, but their behaviours are also a language that we need to understand. That language of behaviours might say that a child has not gone through the rites of passages, that we might have missed something.

Our children still know something we forgot…

We forgot that our children do not go to school because it opens up new job perspectives, new international connections, new travel opportunities etc.

Our children love to go to school simply because they love learning! Socialising. Exploring. Questioning. Investigating. They love growing up! And growing up together! 

Perhaps we should re-discover what an old wiseman said: 

do things for the love of doing; 

live your life for the love of living;

love everyone and everything for the love of loving, 

no matter what the praise or damnation might come with your choice. 

In our time we want to raise awareness in whatever we do. 

We seek a purpose in every initiative we take.

Teenagers want also to become conscious and responsible of their choices and that wish has to be considered. 

If we want them to be lighter and proactive, we have to find the appropriate “rite” for them to grow. 

Then, we may tell them: 

Just go and find your purpose. 

Discover your talents. 

Do things you love to do. 

Enjoy what you love, not what I want. 

Find yourself. 

With my blessing! And my help…

Do you remember Siddhartha Gautama? 

Siddhartha’s father wanted to keep him into a golden precinct.

And when the young Siddhartha asked to go out and see the world, the father tried to stage an aseptic, happy-go-lucky world. 

We know what happened next.

We all want to protect our kids and find the best for them, but we also need to stop short from overloading them with our projections. 

“Why do I have to learn English?”

I would say:

Learn for the joy of learning!

For the curiosity of exploring a new world!

For the joy of experiencing a new daily life, new ways to relate with one another, another way to speak and chat and eat and live and being together!

Living English rather than studying it.

This is what we aim to do.

We aim to provide a lively experience of the English language in the land where English is alive in the air, where you acquire it when you breath, when you hear the sounds, when you understand the meanings, when you absorb through a pleasant experience the life-style and mindset of people speaking English as native language.

The same could be said of other languages, but English plays in our time a special role that makes it the most spoken language in the world.

English even creeps within other languages, because this is the stage of civilisation we are living in.

While thinking of our children, we adults may resume some ‘childish’ aptitudes that went forgotten: we may rediscover how to enjoy learning for the joy of learning.

Working for the joy of working.

Living for joy of living. 

I think that we can trust our children. 

We can walk with them, beside them, until they can move on and create with their own ideas and deeds the world they like to create. 

Possibly, not the continuation of the current one…

What do you think?

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