Yes. The picture is me, Dr. Barb, doing one of the things I love: reading a story and working with my favorite puppet, Archy.
I do the work of author, artist, and teacher. I teach English Language Writing Skills. Some of my students are speakers of other languages. Their home language is not English. Some of my students are native English speakers. Their home language is English. All of my students work to achieve perfection.
They want perfection because the world has embraced communicating in English. The world loves English. Students do not want to make mistakes in a language that is loved by the entire world.
You see, English is a language of precision and exactness. It is the preferred language of the Internet. Some professions like that of airplane pilots require being able to understand and communicate in English.
English has wonderful parts of speech called adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and verbs. These parts allow speakers and writers of English to be very exact. It is not a cat and a box; it is a cat on top of a box. It is not a car and red; it is a red car.
Not all languages have these parts of speech; not all languages can be precise and exact.
I have taught English in US pre-k and elementary schools for most of my working life. When I left public school teaching, I entered the wonderful world of TESOL—teaching English to speakers of other languages and the fabulous world of online teaching.
I only teach online via Zoom. I love teaching online. I can still give one on one instruction without my student or myself leaving the safety of our homes. I, also, teach on the VIPKid and OutSchool platforms.
The biggest challenge my students have is not learning to speak English but learning to write it.
Many are afraid to even try. Some refuse to put pen to paper.
You see, most students–especially those whose home language is not English–are terrified of making a mistake.
A mistake on paper or a computer screen is especially feared because my students believe that the whole world will see their mistake. They fear that the entire world will know that they made a mistake. They believe that this mistake will be known forever.
No. I am being dramatic. In some cultures, perfection is the only acceptable result. In some families, students are shamed if their work is anything but perfect.
So. I now teach students how to journal, how to write first drafts, how to use images and artist’s marks with words to do first drafts of stories.
I teach these because perfection is not required. In fact, I teach that perfection is not welcome in journals or first drafts. I teach that perfection is not used when making images and artist marks; these are always perfect.
Once students realize that I am serious about ‘perfection is not welcome here’, they relax. Once they relax, they have fun trying different ways using English words in written form.
Once this happens, they willingly write. Eventually, they want to know the rules of written English, and they use these in their written work.
Find my Journal a New Way class here:
Find my Let’s Make A Story using images instead of words here:
Find my Let’s Journal Together here:
I am glad you found this site. Join me in my online classroom or get one of my videos and learn from it.
Remember: all of my students are relaxed, have fun, and learn lots.
Barbara Lucas, PhD