Swimming and Teaching
(My blog entry dated Oct 6, 2007)

In the past 3 years, I have always been asked to compare learning English to learning other skills. Some said learning English is like learning cooking and some said swimming.

Yesterday when I went swimming, I was able to think of some relationship with learning English and learning swimming. I haven’t been a sporty person since I was as young as a primary student. I remember how embarrassing it was when I vomited after jogging for a few rounds during a PE lesson. So when I went swimming again after a long time without much exercise, I felt really tired after each turn. Then I said to my “swim mate” Clayton, “I’m such a weak person that I am always exhausted after short exercise! Really don’t know how to improve! Maybe I was born a sport idiot!?

Clayton watched me swim for a while and pointed out that there was something wrong with my movement. He taught me the right way. After a short while of practice, I went on with my swimming.

Oh, I was able to complete 2 rounds without feeling exhausted! I was so happy that I swam and swam. I felt much satisfied! I am not a sport idiot! Thanks Clayton here!

Many students are struggling in English. They think they will never succeed. They think they are born idiots of English. Writing, speaking, grammar, no way!!

I used to think that if teachers give enough encouragement and confidence to them, they will do OK. However, I’ve just realized that I was wrong!

If Clayton had just encouraged me to go on with my practice and said that I must be able to swim well, I would have been struggling with my swimming.

My new teaching philosophy: apart from having confidence in students and encouraging them, it is also important to teach them techniques/strategies so that they can make achievments. Without achievments, they will never believe they will be able to succeed no matter how high your expectations are and how much encouragement you have given to them.

I have just started teaching a group of F3 and F4 students with lower-than-average ability in English I can say. Hope I can apply the above philosophy in teaching them. We really had a good time for the first lesson yesterday!