Apprehensions about Foreign Language Teaching, or How I Had To Rethink My Identity as Teacher
We’re now envisioning the end of the fall semester, my first as a graduate student at Berkeley. After ten years as a junior high teacher of “core curriculum,” I received an appointment to teach French 1 upon returning to Berkeley. I wrote the following journal entry three days before instruction began in August:
le 24 août 2008: I am most apprehensive about instructing entirely en français. I go back and forth between feeling confident in my French skills to doubting the quality of my accent or careless fautes de grammaire. Even before the beginning of the semester, however, I feel strongly supported by the organization of the department and the accessibility of its faculty and staff.
I’m also wondering if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, class-wise. I hope to have a clear sense of my load by week’s end.
I imagine my class to be attentive- that they are motivated to be in this class. People in the department have said that these students are typically highly motivated, and I remember feeling that way as an undergrad in foreign language classes. I sense that they (some, unconciously) expect me to be highly motivated: to show that I care about the subject matter ansd about their success. I hope to convey my love of teaching in general: the interplay among students, teachers, and material. I imagine being in a classroom where we all want to be challenged and satisfied by the process of language acquisition.
Eleven weeks later, I find that not all of the tension has dissipated, but my belief that I can instruct daily in a foreign language has grown stronger. I marvel over the students’ accelerated learning, and I appreciate my own nuanced understanding of a language I love.