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RUNNING HEAD: Minding Your Own Language Learning

Minding Your Own Language Learning


By Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Twitter: @jonacuso
Post 177

Mindfulness does not just mean to be aware of what others do or feel (or what I,
as an individual feel and do), but it is a conscious act that allows us to introspectively and
retrospectively analyze how things happen(ed) in life, such as the way a foreign language
was acquired. At times it is helpful to place oneself in the shoes of ones learners to tell
them that one understands what they are going or have gone through as language
students. Lets mindfully ask ourselves these questions or just read the following answers.
What were the contexts in which you felt you were most successful in learning a

language? Since now I am getting to understand language learning processes better, in


hindsight I can see myself years ago learning English and being exposed to lots of social
interaction in class, but with one professor I got at University of Costa Rica whose class
was solely delivered from her desk. Prof. Pacheco never gave me or my parents any way

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano

RUNNING HEAD: Minding Your Own Language Learning

to socially work with other peers to try out the development of our interlanguage and
test our comprehension of the target language. Now as an ELT instructor, and thanks to
that Prof. Pacheco, in a mindful act for the sake of my lesson plan, I provide my pupils
with zone-of-proximal-development opportunities to exercise their English, to feel
comfortable in my class, and to give their interlanguage a try. Somehow I want to
guarantee that my language trainees get a classroom setting that inspires them with
activities that can foster their language proficiency in a social context.
Did you learn best in a classroom context? With language instructors such as
Prof. Pacheco at UCR, I cannot see much evolution of language in learners (because I
saw none in my case). But my personal language learning story is not just connected to
a single unmindful teaching professional; there were people who really helped me a lot
to continue developing my language. However, being retrospectively and mindfully alert,
the classroom context was not the best place for me oftentimes. There were partners
who recurrently went back to our native language to discuss what the instructor asked
us to consider and talk over among ourselves. Committed peers were not always nearby,
and for that reason I self-taught myself many things I could not either learn with my
uncooperative peers or in a class that turned out to be too theoretical and abstract for
me or socially tracked off. As a language instructor, and in an act of mindfulness once

more, my students are much more involved in routine tasks that can assist them to help
them develop their language proficiency in various ways: from grammar to pronunciation,
and from social skills to hierarchical thinking skills. Anything that resembles the way native
speakers use the language in a foreign country is something that can be tried out in class
to help learners construct their knowledge of the target language and to practice it.
If you have visited a country where you had to learn at least some basics of a

second language, what helped? What didnt help? As a language learner, I never visited
any English-speaking country, nor did I have to learn the basis of a second language in

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano

RUNNING HEAD: Minding Your Own Language Learning

a foreign country. I learned English in my Spanish-speaking home country. It was until


later in life, as a graduate student, when I had the opportunity to travel to the United
States for a teacher training course, several years after I had graduated from UCR. But
before that traveling chance materialized, there were plenty of British, American, and
Canadian native speakers who shared their language with me through lengthy
conversations or small chats. In a mindful act in the search to improve my language
proficiency, I looked for any opportunity to have a conversation with a native speaker to
once again- try out the evolution of my interlanguage. At this point of my professional
teaching life, I recurrently ask my pupils to go and look for those opportunities to practice
their English! And better yet, if they can travel to an English-speaking country for a while,
I ask them to seize the chance and explore other linguistic horizons that are only hosted
in a country where the target language is spoken.
In brief, as a language instructor one has to be mindful of how ones language
learning process took place. Our experiences can be guiding stars for what we want to
instill in our learners to experience a more down-to-earth and meaningful way of learning
or to go and search for language experiences that can help them learn, consolidate their
learning, or try out what has been learned and moved into the interlanguage. We were
foreign language learners; why cant we use all that experience to assist our students in
their language learning journey?

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano