Every teacher knows the pain of trying to convince a student that “yes, you will use this after you graduate” and “yes, it does matter that you learn the material”. Yet, with stacks of papers to mark, assemblies to attend, meetings to lead, and club sports to oversee, we sometimes lose sight of why we teach what we teach. Psh. English. Who cares, right?
With all the bureaucracy I’ve been drowning in lately, I definitely started losing touch with why studying English matters. A common complaint I hear from fellow coworkers is that students don’t use English outside of class and won’t use English after they graduate. They complain that students only go through the motions of learning English because it’s a graduation requirement to have taken and passed English in high school (and, for the record, a passing mark is anything above 30%).
So why teach English to a largely homogenous island nation… particularly out in the rice fields and up in the mountain side, where it takes enough effort to travel to talk to your nearest neighbor, let alone go anywhere to speak a foreign language?
Why should anyone have to learn a foreign language if they don’t plan on ever using the language?
Here’s why: because learning a foreign language helps foster compassion.