Moving from strength to strength

All too often I find my students talking about what they cannot do in English.  They don’t know how to say something in English. They don’t understand when someone talks to them.  They can’t remember to use the grammar rules they have learned. And on and on and on.  So when I saw this post Should we focus on our STRENGTHS or our WEAKNESSES, I knew my answer:  We should focus on our strengths!

But how can I help my students do that?  I have talked to them about it a lot, but the ladies in my class seem to fall back into focusing on what they cannot do.

Sometimes I think students focus on what they cannot do because it is easier than trying to use what little English they have.  But I know that they will never learn English until they can push themselves past that.

Another post I ran across today had a link to an article 11 Tips to Help You Learn English Faster.  Basically, it was calling on students to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.  For example, number 2 was:

Don’t apologize for not knowing everything or “Not speaking English!” You are learning English… You are trying, right? That’s what’s important.  (See more at:

Number 3 included this gem:

Listen for words you DO understand.

Number 5 had this advice:

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Fear can stop you from learning English.  (See more at:

Almost all eleven of the tips in that article called on students to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses as language learners.  So I feel pretty confident when I say that my students aren’t the only ones who have this problem!

So my job, I think, is to help them move past this and begin to turn their attention to what they can do.  I know that it can be incredibly difficult.  Although it was a long time ago, I still remember how hard it was for me to push myself to use what little Spanish I had at the time.   But somehow I managed to do it, and I know they can, too.  It will take time and a lot of patience.  And a little encouragement from me, their teacher, along the way.


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