With all of the demands on us as teachers to help our students improve their English we can sometimes lose sight of the fact that language is not the only thing going on in our classrooms. As important as improving students’ linguistic competences is, we know we are also getting them ready for using that language in the real world. And take a look around – the world is a pretty chaotic place (VUCA if you will) which can put a strain on the most resilient of us. Though no one is asking us to be professional psychologists, taking into account some of the principles of the Emotional Intelligence movement is a good idea if we want to help our students become happy, productive and resilient in addition to linguistically proficient members of society.
I like to think that as language teachers we have at least a potential advantage, a kind of head start, when being in touch with the emotional well-being of our students. After all, we deal in the art of communication, and in an effort to make that communication as genuine as possible we are often privileged to have a window into a very personal side of our students.
But are we always aware of the strengths and doubts of each of our students as they approach their learning and their life? Do we see how and what they are learning is changing them both internally as well as in relation to their classmates, or indeed to the changing and uncertain society around them? Above all, are we providing them not only with the language, but with the values that will help them continue to adapt and grow both in and beyond the classroom?
Though for many of you these may seem like merely ancillary questions as you deal with the day to day of getting your students through the curriculum, making sure they know the present perfect before the mid-term exam or having them prepared for that external proficiency exam by year’s end, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that if you want them to reach these GRITtier goals they will also need to give their attention to basic values such as self-awareness, attention to interpersonal relationships, empathy and cooperation.
Of course all of us have given at least some thought to these issues, but it never hurts to keep digging a bit deeper and challenging ourselves as teachers. We all intuitively know that we need to balance academic goals with personal and emotional ones. But beyond simply balancing the trick is often to see how they can intersect and complement one another.
If you are interested in learning more about this subject Pearson will be hosting two webinars by the educational expert Coral Regí on November 14th (one at 6 p.m. and the other at 7.30 p.m.) as part of our series of teaching training webinars. Coral’s webinars will be conducted in Spanish but will be of interest to English teachers as well as teachers of other subject areas. She will touch on both theory and practical ideas for teachers interested in exploring the importance of Emotional Intelligence in their classes.