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She Thinks I Can - An Interior Monologue

by
Daniela Thrasher & Cong-Kai Jin
Exploring why I care to learn
Why do I want to learn the language? Why do I care? Is it the language, the
people who speak the language, the culture that the language and people
represent, or the teacher who teaches me the language that I care to learn?
I know it is the teacher who I care about most, because she really cares
about me and my learning!
Knowing what I care to learn
However, I am not really in the mood for conjugation of verbs today. I just
found out that they picked up mom again. Who knows it? While I am walking
the halls before class, I am wondering: did she read yesterdays paper? Does
she see my agony? What does he see, when looking in my eyes? Chinese
class is about to start and he better makes it fun today - taking my thoughts
off. What is mom doing right now? I wonder, if my teacher read the paper
this morning...
Expectation and Care that I received
But it was my language teacher came to see me when I received my
Taekwondo test, I knew I can make her proud of me, so I always do my best
in her class. I want to pass both the Taekwondo and the language test,
because I know she is watching me, caring about me, expecting me doing
great things. I will do whatever I can to meet - even exceed - the
expectations she has on me, because I know she cares about me!
It is actually kind of interesting to see and learn about the other cultures.
Some of those are not as different as ours. But do they have poverty? Here
in school, we have these huge differences in people. There are people in my
class who have tons of money. They do not care. Then there are those, who
left home for a better life in the U.S. They seem to be angry a lot. And
many of them do not have much money. Their parents are all stressed out.
Juan is one of them. Do they have those in the other culture? My friend, Juan,
does not speak very much English. And he told me yesterday that he is in
trouble with his dad. I am not sure, why. Juan cannot talk to his mom - she is

sick. My dad is gone. Never met him. When Juan complained, first I thought
Id rather have a dad. But do I really want a dad who is violent? Juan is from
Puerto Rico. It seems like his parents are really strict. I can do whatever I
want, which is not much. We dont have any money. I am working, but have
to pay bills now. Most of my money goes to those. Does Johnny have to pay
bills? He just got a car from his dad. I cant afford to take drivers ed. It
would be so nice to have a car. Sometimes, I just want to go somewhere
else. Out of this town. Away from the people. Away from what they call my
family. I just learned a new word: dysfunctional family and I instantly
understood, what this means. Yes, this is it. I have a dysfunctional family.
In my language class, we talked about family. I can now describe a family
in my foreign language. We watched a movie about a family. This is not what
I know - what my family is. I do not think, this is what Juan knows. How
different are they?
Expectation and Support that I need
The bell rings. I need to go to class. I promised my language teacher that I
will finish high school. She wants me to go to college, while I work on my
Martial Arts career. I can do this. I know she wants me to be successful and
have a future. But I am not sure, if I can raise to her expectations.
She thinks I am smart.
I dont think so.
She thinks I am able to do college work.
I dont think so.
She thinks I am worth the effort and care.
I dont think so.
She thinks I can.
I dont think so.
But she does know me and supports me! Thats why I keep learning the
language in her class!
Juan can always go home. Or not? He just has to wait until he is 18. Then
we are adults. I can move out. But where to go? What to do? Can Juan go
back to Puerto Rico? What if his family there doesnt want him? Well, mine is
not really all that eager about me being around either.

She Thinks I Can - An Interior Monologue


Summary of the project presented
Given that Group 2 team members (Daniela Thrasher and Cong-Kai Jin)
are both foreign language teachers, the purpose of this Interior-Monologue
project is to pinpoint the type of challenges language teachers might
encounter in classroom, such as students personal life, conflicts and
mediation of different expectations, different points of view, different sets of
value or priority , etc., all of which are derived from students and language
teacher's respective culture background and living experience. This project
also addresses the utmost importance of the support that language
instructors could provide in their students learning process.
Here are some thoughts shared by Group 2 team members regarding
the design of the interior monologue:
-

Different cultural perspectives and living experience


teachers - students
What does it mean to learn a new language and its culture(s)
Essential Question (from assigned reading article):
How might this person experience this situation?
Using informed empathy - should we put ourselves into a students shoes?
Using our own first-hand experience living in a foreign country?
Why would our students want to learn a new language? (thinking about our
poor students in classroom, who worry about their mom in jail, food on the
table, longing for somebody who will just listen, who cares what they do )
One of the Group 2 team member just witnessed one student test for his
high red belt in Taekwondo none of his family was there, just me. He
glowed when the team member entered the room. Hes been telling all his
friends that his language teacher witnessed him testing a week later, he
told the team member that mom is in jail again!
Interior monologues tap other peoples pain, but they also tap peoples
hope (p. 2, assigned reading article) this particular student has the hope
to go to college, despite everything thats been going on.
How does this specific student view himself and his learning in school,
especially his language class?
Pseudonyms were used in this project to protect the confidentiality of
the students whose stories are partial depicted in the monologue.

She Thinks I Can - An Interior Monologue

Project Rationale:
Summary of why the subject was chosen
This project addresses one question: What kind of constructs might
influence students persistence in foreign language classes beyond the usual
requirement?
Research on motivation has shown that positive correlations exist
between language learning motivation and foreign language achievement.
Motivation is a complex, multifaceted construct that incorporates effort,
desire, and a favorable attitude toward the target language.
There are several aspects influencing the motivation of students
learning foreign language, which include engaging activities and fun
elements in the foreign language classrooms, family and peer support, the
role of the instructor as a major motivator, and instructional immediacy.
Support is one of the constructs that motivates learners to
continue their study of foreign languages. Many research studies show
that support was one of the constructs that students mentioned as
motivating them to continue their study of foreign languages. Students
stated that they are receiving support from their instructors, family
members, friends, and peers in the classroom. Teachers represented a great
support for them.
Therefore, the source of support for students to continue their study of
foreign language varies: Some came from instructors or immediate family
members; other came from peers such as friends and classmates.
Significant others have their roles in providing such support as well.
Instructors role is a very important motivator for learning a foreign
language.
The role of the instructor as a major construct influencing
students decision to continue their language study was shared by
many research studies. Research studies also expressed the importance
of the support students get from the instructor and their families to continue
their endeavors of mastering the foreign language. Therefore, an awareness
of the influence of such support among instructors can be empowering for
the students.

The family role can be influenced through organizing showcase


activities where students can bring a family member and share their
learning. During these activities, instructors can play an important role
in raising the awareness of family members about their potential
roles in supporting the learners.
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Gardner, R. C., & Lambert, W. E. (1959). Motivational variables in second
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