“[O]ne goal for me is for learners to have a good perception of the language, a good relationship with the language to feel motivated, to want to keep going. And so for me, again, that goes back to experiences. They have to have good experiences…. And so in many of my courses, they do video chat exchanges with native speakers so they can talk to people outside of classmates and instructors and they really enjoy that and it gives them that motivation of, ‘I can do this. I can understand someone who doesn’t speak English,’ and for them that is sometimes mind blowing…. It goes beyond the classroom and that’s what I really want.”
Jump down to listen to the podcast
I confess – I like control over things in my life. That’s is true of humanity in general, especially in times like these when the world presents us with challenges and “forced march” directions that seems very much out of our control. Florencia Henshaw shares a key moment in her young life (see her bio) when she was faced with a new language and new behaviors and “looks” that took her far away from where she felt in control. As we discuss in this podcast, the way past discomfort is through it. Like a river, our immersion in language and cultural experience carries us along as we learn to stay afloat, avoid rocks, and finally to appreciate the beauty and refreshment all around us.
I remember the moment in my teaching when I realized that my demand for control was killing me. Demanding control was ruining my health, spoiling my mood, filling my days and nights with work. At that moment I decided I cared more about the precious students under my care than control of their every utterance and written word… that I cared more for my own life more than for the marking of incorrect pronouns in an essay… that I cared more for my joy in language than utter (impossible) perfection in it.
My health crisis provided me the opportunity to get perspective. And when I chose to let go of the control, I got in return students who blossomed in their love of language, and their accuracy and fluency in it, and health to grow and contribute to lives and organizations.
Reflect for a moment in your own life where your fear or discomfort leads you to want to wrestle control over a situation and the people in it. Perhaps you are an educator who wants to ensure certain behaviors and outcomes in your courses: to what extent can you provide to students a vision of their own objectives being realized and their own experiences engaged, while providing markers for progress as students immerse themselves imperfectly but personally in the work? If you a manager in a business or a leader of an organization: to what extent can you provide opportunities for others to immerse themselves in the mission and vision of the team, and contribute their insights to set and reach goals? If you are a student: to what extent can you decide to just plunge in, and take the chance that the new language, information, culture, and ways of understanding might free you up to be more fully yourself?
All around us, there are opportunities for us to let go of our control – just a bit, maybe! – and see what that frees up in our own lives and the lives of others.
Enjoy the podcast.
Click to listen:
Scroll down for full transcript.
Thank you for always focusing on the possibilities, opportunities and the power of language and what it can do for us individually - and collectively!
If you've never done #cliftonstrengths, yourself or with your team, don't wait any longer. Norah Jones of FLUENCY CONSULTING is the one and only to do it! It's all about your super powers: finding & using them to affect positive change in the world. What's not to love?!
Yes, @NorahLulicJones definitely has the talent of "bringing out" the best in others or allowing them to showcase themselves in the best light! Thank you for directing the spotlight on others who have great stories and talents to share with others.
Your podcasts are exceptionally relevant and applicable, thought-provoking and insightful, easy-to-follow and enjoyable!
You have an immense talent to draw the best from your participants.
Norah knows how to LISTEN - she really "hears" the message - and the interview is richer because of it. New questions come from the hearing.
Want to hear more? Access previous episodes, and get to know the wonderful people I talk with through the It’s About Language page, or by clicking on the Podcast tab above. You can also find this week’s episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
As a certified Gallup Strengths coach, I can provide you or your organization personalized coaching to discover and build on your strengths.
I provide workshops, presentations, and talks that inspire and engage through powerful language insights, and I pair those insights with practical applications for the lives of educators, learners, businesses, and faith-centered organizations. I’d love to share ideas with your organization or group, and develop an event tailored to your objectives.
Click here to start a conversation.
Norah Jones: All right. It’s a great pleasure to welcome my colleague, friend Florencia Henshaw to the podcast today. Hi, Florencia.
Florencia Henshaw: Hi. How are you?
Norah Jones: I’m doing very well, thank you. I’m excited about our conversation in so many directions. Your expertise is so well-known nationally, and to have a chance to speak with you and to pick your brain podcast-wise about language, language acquisition, language in today’s digital world. It’s going to be very exciting.
But on top of it, I love the fact that you have a rebellion brain going on, my friend, because when we are taking a look at language development and we take a look at our own backgrounds as language educators, I mean, you not only have your PhD in second language acquisition and teacher education, you’re also training people. You’re doing workshops on language instruction, pedagogical practices. You’ve got a book coming out with Modest Hawkins, the language acquisition, practically worn out. So when I look at you, I’m like, okay, here’s a lot of language acquisition stuff, and then your rebellion comes out with we ought to let go of some of that control that we’re looking at when we’re in a classroom. What do you do with teachers when you tell them let go, teachers, let go? What do you mean by that? How does that work for rebel you?
Florencia Henshaw: All right. Well, first of all, thank you so much for inviting me. Thank you for this conversation. Thank you for the nice and unique introduction. Yeah, I once tweeted, “I don’t like to think of myself as a trendsetter. I like to think of myself as a trend interrogator.” I just like questioning things, and I always go with why. Why am I doing this? So the whole theme of letting go of control, I think it comes from a personal space because I knew that there were some things that I was imposing, that I was trying to control in my classes that ultimately were not contributing to learning or contributing to the students having a positive relationship with the language. And so I started reflecting on to what extent what we want to control in the classroom is helping or hindering learning?
And learning, I mean in a very broad sense. I don’t mean just language acquisition. I mean their motivation, their perception of the language, right? Their language development too. Right? So I’m not advocating for the extreme, so I’m not advocating for being 100% controlling and I’m not advocating for a completely out of control, free for all, do whatever you want and the students too, because to me, guidelines can be helpful. I am an OPI-certified tester. I look at the proficiency guidelines all the time. So guidelines, standards can help us, can guide us. So I think guidance is good where I’m… then I start questioning things is when we cross into the controlling side of it. When we’re trying to control language access, control language use, I just question how much are we helping or hindering learning when we do that?
Norah Jones: Interesting. So the difference between control per se and guidance, we have that famous phrase that keeps coming up. Are you the sage on the stage or the guide on the side? But it sounds like it’s much deeper than that. So when you are working with your sharing of how language works with educators, what we would call also the language acquisition or the pedagogy, how do you also provide an insight into the reflection that you just talked about? It’s not just what we’re doing, but reflecting on what we’re doing. How do you work with it?
Florencia Henshaw: Well, I think there are two layers. So one layer has to do with understanding language development and language acquisition in the fluid nature of language. And I think the other layer is from an institutional educational side in terms of what are we doing in the classroom or in our syllabi. Right. All of the other components of teaching, not necessarily language, right, but we happen to be teaching language. So in terms of the first part, the part about language acquisition development, I like that Bill VanPatten always asks who’s in control, and he always says the learner is in control. And even then, the learner is in control, it doesn’t mean that the learner can consciously say, I’m going to acquire this, but I’m not going to acquire that. We cannot consciously control what we acquire.
And at the same time, the teacher can only do so much in terms of controlling acquisition too. We might, of course, be able to help create an environment where the learners have access to input and communicative activities and all of that. Yes, but nothing can guarantee that your learners are going to achieve a specific level or that your learners are going to be acquiring X, Y, and Z. Right? So at some point being a language educator, you have to be comfortable with not being in control of everything.
Norah Jones: Amen. Amen.
Florencia Henshaw: Yeah. So I think the other aspect, because I’m talking a lot about acquisition and Bill VanPatten, but I think we also need to discuss the nature of language itself. Right? So language is fluid. We have to accept it that language is entirely fluid, that languages change and evolve all the time and that languages belong to the speakers. Right? The academies and the dictionaries and all of that are supposed to be reflecting what’s happening with language, not necessarily telling us how we should use language, and so I think we need to keep that in mind too. Right? So when we’re trying to control so much what language the students are using in the classroom, we just need to ask ourselves, am I allowing for that fluidity of language to exist in my classroom too? And I think another important layer, especially in my case where a lot of our classes include heritage speakers, that means students who grew up speaking the language at home.
Another important layer is the layer of identity because language is part of our identity. Right? And I think we need to understand that just how we see that language evolves and is fluid, so is our identity and our relationship with the language. Trying to control all of that is impossible, and we should not be spending our energy trying to do that because it’s not only impossible, but I would say that it’s not very fruitful. Right? What are we trying to accomplish by controlling too much when it comes to that?
Norah Jones: Well, in fact, I would say that from a sociological point of view, we do very poorly when we try to control language or when we assume that there is a non-changing standard, be it something as seemingly benign, as dictionaries, when they were first established were designed to be reflections of what language was being spoken so people could find words that they were not familiar with, and then dictionaries became prescriptive. And now students have to spell things properly and use things according to dictionaries, and it’s gotten the cart before the horse on that one.
So from an identity point of view, from a sociological point of view, all right, whether you’re speaking Florencia to a young person that’s in a classroom, or whether you’re speaking to a person that’s out and about in the world that is facing language, language acquisition, people that are using various languages. What level of insight is best to provide them so that they understand the fluidity of language and the fluidity of identity that comes from that so they can be patient?
Florencia Henshaw: I would probably say that the best way to start even grasping that, and it’s a journey, right? It’s not something where somebody gives you a lesson on it and now you fully understand it. But I think experiences and variety of experiences, whether it is variety of the information that you have access to, the people that you interact with in your own experiences as a language learner, I think are immensely valuable, not just in terms of, well, how many words do I know now? But just reflecting on your own experience and feelings, sometimes it is very frustrating how little you can control yourself and just realizing all of this. Right? Noticing different patterns in language, noticing variation. I think that the more experiences we have, the more we can come to terms with this letting go of control, especially when it comes to language and identity.
Norah Jones: Thank you. You do again, use early on in this conversation, the word reflection. Reflection. And I presumed that… one thing I’m about to ask you is to explain to our audience your own background and how that might’ve provided you the insights or how it did provide you the insights and reflections to which you refer. How much of your workshop work, of the book that you’re using, of the work that you do in the world involves giving the tools of reflection? So two parts there, you and the gift to the world.
Florencia Henshaw: Okay. All right. So I would say so from my background as a researcher, one of the things you learn early on and you struggle with is trying to control variables, and that’s when you quickly realize how much you can and cannot control. In every research study, there are things that you could not control and you have to accept them as part of doing research. I think in terms of my experience being a language educator but also a program director, which means that I supervise courses, I choose the materials and things like that, create a syllabi to me, that’s where I did a lot of that reflection of how much am I controlling? What type of control is helpful and what type of control is just a constraint to growth? Right? So that’s where I did a lot of that reflection.
And then in terms of doing workshops, I think what has helped me reflect, is just related to my previous answer, having knowledge of someone else’s experience. Being able to exchange ideas, to hear concerns, to get questions that make me then reflect on what am I trying to share with other educators, without sounding like I am trying to control what they do in the classroom? Because that is not, in my opinion, the role of the professional development provider. Right? We’re not here to tell you exactly what and how and when and why you need to do everything. It should be more about giving information, sometimes some sort of negotiation when we don’t agree on everything, and that’s okay. But mostly to help you reflect, get you inspired to think about how I’m going to apply this in my classroom, in my context.
Norah Jones: Let’s go beyond the classroom for just a moment.
Florencia Henshaw: I don’t know if answered your question or not.
Norah Jones: You certainly do. You always do. I have a reflection question then for beyond the classroom. The identity. I’m going to bring that back again. Language is part of identity. There’s a broad picture here that has implications for our worldwide experience, national and worldwide experience. How do some of your reflections, some of these approaches go beyond the classroom and what do you say to people who are not in the educational scene, but who understand that there’s something going on here with language they probably should know about?
Florencia Henshaw: I would like to think that what we’re doing as language educators is not limited to our students. Right? It’s not limited to just our students now being able to communicate in the target language. That may very well be a goal. It’s a great goal, but I think it goes beyond that. I think we, at least I want my students, not just to have knowledge, but to develop these skills of empathy, of understanding, of being able to relate to someone else, being able to communicate as someone that they cannot relate to. I think that being uncomfortable with themselves, because when you’re speaking another language, you need to get comfortable with making a lot of mistakes and not knowing things and asking for help and doing all of these things that sometimes make us uncomfortable. So I’d like to believe that there’s sort of a ripple, that it goes well beyond our students now being able to communicate in the language or getting a job where they can use the language. To me is one goal, but it’s not the bigger picture, the bigger goal.
So I like to engage students. I don’t have a lot of contact with people outside of the classroom in terms of being able to have long conversations about it. But I do with friends, and it’s more about getting them to reflect on how much of our own perspective, identity and experiences are we projecting onto someone else, and I think that’s one way of control. Right? We view things, which is… we all do it, right? It’s not a good or bad thing. We view things through our own eyes, and inevitably, it is our own experiences and beliefs and it’s us. I don’t know that I would call it a skill, but let’s go there.
The skill of stepping back and giving space to recognize someone else’s experiences and how someone else may be viewing the same thing in a completely different way and try and define some common ground. I know that it’s not always easy, but I see that a lot in teaching. I can give you an example. One of the courses that I supervise is a composition course, and I teach it from time to time. And when I’m reading compositions, grading compositions, and the same with the teaching assistants that work with me, the first tip I give them is don’t project your own ideas of how this should be written onto the student’s paper. And sometimes we do it without even thinking, right? We’re like, but this would sound so much better, but you should move this, but you should add that, and then it’s almost like we’re trying to control what they’re saying. Right. And I think it’s because we project what we would say or what we expect under ideal conditions and that’s what we want them to get. And I think that there’s some of that in how we interact with people outside of the classroom too.
Norah Jones: Indeed. Thank you so much for that. I know that one of our podcast guests here earlier was working with the idea of translanguaging and fitting in even the way that people express themselves, as well as the vocabulary that it’s chosen, the kinds of decisions that they make, and that understanding, that patience with others’ viewpoints, not necessarily what I mean opinions, but ways of expressing themselves. Such a critically important skill and yet it’s not one that folks that are not in education might come across. They might not even be aware, right, Florencia, that such a thing exists?
Florencia Henshaw: And I think it kind of goes back to when we think of control or rules or guidelines or standards, a lot of what we’re doing is comparing. Right? We’re comparing something to something else. We’re measuring this according to something else. And going back to being a rater, OPI rater, AAPPL rater, I rate a lot of tests. Every single training, no matter the company, what do they tell you? You cannot rate things based on how you would have said it, right? You have to step back, remove yourself and just rate the sample as opposed to saying, but I would have added an example there, or, but they could have said this and that, right. Just you have to… and it takes time. It takes time to step back and realize the other person is not me. Right?
And same with our students. And I hear this a lot with language teachers when they’re talking about grammar. And a lot of language teachers say that they’re grammar nerds, as they call themselves, or that they love grammar. Right? And then they have to remember that their students are not linguists. They’re not grammar nerds necessarily, and they may not want to know all of the exceptions to a rule. Some of the student’s might, but most students probably not. And so then we have to remember, we are not our students and they are not us. And so when we’re doing those comparisons or we’re trying to put them into this mold that we created in our head, I think that’s when we become a little bit too controlling as opposed to being helpful in guiding the students.
Norah Jones: What a nice insight I am going to ask you for just a moment to step into your own heritage, your own background, with regard to where you were born, where you grew up coming to the United States. Because that phrase, “My students are not me,” I’d like to globalize. I’d like to make it when we walk around and we don’t have to judge the United States per se, but using your own background and your now presence in the United States, people walk around quite a bit in the world saying, you should be like me. How come you’re not like me? You should agree with me. How can the insights that you provide about language studies in particular, language identity culture have an impact on how people can recognize they can let go of some of that control and understand that others are not me without feeling threatened?
Florencia Henshaw: I think it takes a long time. When I moved to the United States, and I was in a connecting flight in Chicago O’Hare going to San Diego, California. And I remember it was early in the morning and I was sitting there waiting for the next flight, and I was very nervous. First time moving somewhere else, 18 years old. And I remember seeing two girls, which to me they probably looked like native speakers of English, Americans just speaking so fast in English and they look tall, blonde and I’m just like, I’m never going to fit in here. That’s the first thought I had, and I felt like, what am I doing? I don’t belong here.
And it may sound so silly, but when you’re 18 years old, you’re looking at your peers and comparing yourself to them and figuring out if you would ever have anything in common with somebody like that. And just at that moment, I don’t even know who they were. I didn’t even talk to them, but I had that feeling of being an outsider and not belonging right away. And it took a while to sort of come to terms with who am I? why I think I do belong here and why I don’t need to be like them. It’s great that they’re like them. Nothing wrong with them, but there’s also nothing wrong with being me. I think it’s a matter of appreciating someone else’s experiences and background.
And there’s something really silly I do, but maybe it’ll help somebody else. When I go to another city, like for a conference, travel, whatever. I like to look at people who are just going about their day or even look at a building or look at a bus and think of how, for me, that building, that bus, that person crossing the street, they look like outsiders, right? They look like something new. I’ve never been there before. I don’t know what that building is. I don’t know where that bus goes. But I think of when I’m here in my town in Urbana and I see a building and I know exactly what that building is, or I see a bus and I know exactly where that bus goes, and how they probably come here and look at that building on that bus the same way I looked at their building and their bus. It’s just all our own perceptions.
And I also know that with time, if I were to move to their town, eventually I would become just as familiar with their bus and their building, and I would look at them completely differently. So I think it’s a matter of just being patient, being open and understanding it’s a journey. Right? It’s not something that happens overnight and it’s not something that somebody else can tell you what it feels like. Nobody else can give you the checklist of things you need to do. I think it’s just something that it goes back to experience.
Norah Jones: What a wonderful invitation to be personal in it and to gain hope from just one’s own control. Thank you so much for that. And Florencia, one of the things that you’re extraordinarily good at, one of the many things, and that you winning awards for and that you do is working with digital instruction, digital delivery of experience. Reflect for us, please on the role potentially of the digital world here to give people an opportunity to have that confidence, to give people the opportunity to reflect, to take some of the best practices that you’re working with and make them more possible as they learn languages and cultures or think about doing so.
Florencia Henshaw: That could take a while.
Norah Jones: It certainly could.
Florencia Henshaw: So I guess I would have to, if I could pick two things and going back to the theme of our episode today, so one would be flexibility. So again, the letting go of control. I think that technology opens up so many possibilities in terms of the when and where you can access things and options in terms of how you can create things, how you can access, how you can share. We have a lot of options. So I think the options and flexibility that technology one way in which we can let go of control and letting go of control in a way that helps with growth and language development is probably prioritizing your goals. Whether you’re a teacher, self motivated learner, learning language on your own, just prioritizing your goals, your expectations.
When we do, and I know this is also true for the classroom of course, but when you do a lot of online courses, when you learn languages online or on your own, you have to be very clear what your goals are, what your priorities are, what your expectations are and then how you’re going to go about it. And then you discover the things that are sort of working and the things that are not really getting you there. And so that’s what I would say in terms of technology and language learning.
Norah Jones: That’s fantastic. Thank you very much. And what kinds of goals and expectations do you tend to share as examples or as encouragements with people when you are doing workshops presentations, or when you’re writing this book, for example? What are some of those things that you hope people will understand to commit to? Because sometimes people don’t have a real clear sense of what their goals and expectations should be or the level at which they should be achieved.
Florencia Henshaw: Right. So when it comes to language proficiency, language development or performance, what students can do with the language I do like the ACTFL guidelines, the proficiency guidelines and you don’t have to… I don’t mean to say that you need to memorize them all and know them by heart, but just to have an idea of what would be realistic for a learner to be able to do with the language at this level, and particularly when it comes to language control accuracy. Because a lot of the time we think that learners should be able to do a lot more in that respect, that learners should have already a lot more control, going back to control, on grammar, expressions and things like that, spelling. And so I do think that the guidelines give us a realistic way of looking at expectations in that sense. So that would be what I would do and that’s what I tell everybody in my workshops and webinars too.
And then in terms of other goals, because those are proficiency goals, but it’s not everything. So one goal for me is for learners to have a good perception of the language, a good relationship with the language to feel motivated, to want to keep going. And so for me, again, that goes back to experiences. They have to have good experiences. It doesn’t have to be all fun and games. Fun and games are good, but sometimes giving them those unique experiences that make them want to do more. And so in many of my courses, they do video chat exchanges with native speakers so they can talk to people outside of classmates and instructors and they really enjoy that and it gives them that motivation of, ‘I can do this. I can understand someone who doesn’t speak English,’ and for them that is sometimes mind blowing. And many times they end up deciding that’s what I want to study abroad. Some of them become friends on social media. I mean, I teach college, right, so it kind of grows. It goes beyond the classroom and that’s what I really want.
Norah Jones: That’s fabulous. You know, you mentioned a couple of words there that really resonate to having a good relationship with the language as well as having the good experiences. You mentioned earlier in our conversation that you are a certified oral proficiency interview tester, that OPI tester through ACTFL. How do you find in your work as an oral proficiency interviewer and as a trainer for, again, other educators, the way that we and the world as people that are not formerly testing but are having conversations with others can be that encouragement to help them to feel like they’re having a good relationship with the language, even under stressful conditions?
Florencia Henshaw: Yeah. I think that’s one of the beauties of the OPI. True, it’s still an assessment. It’s a test and sometimes it could be high stakes, but what I like, and I have emulated in my own courses, is that it doesn’t feel like a test. Yes, the student might be a little bit nervous or the person being interviewed might be nervous and it’s understandable, but it has a particular structure that is supposed to start with a warmup. It’s supposed to start with a wind down to kind of bring it back to something easy, casual. So I like the structure, but what I like the most is that it’s a conversation. Yes, we are listening for certain things and we’re asking things in a specific way, but it’s very much guided by what the person is sharing with you.
And you have reactions and you can laugh. At one point, the person can ask you questions. And so I really like that aspect of it, and when I do it with students, when I do interviews, not strict OPIs, but adopted, inspired by the OPI, we many times end up laughing. They end up telling me they want to keep going and asking me more questions. So it shouldn’t be about, do you remember what this word is? Can you conjugate this verb correctly? I think all of that pressure. Yep. Do some students enjoy it? Do they feel more comfortable because it’s more controlled? Sure. It could be. But I found that the majority of students feel much more at ease when there is this wiggle room, this flexibility, when it’s not so controlled that if they don’t remember one word now they’re great suffers or anything like that.
So I really do like that about the OPI a lot. There’s flexibility. There’s back and forth. It’s a conversation and giving them plenty of opportunities to show me what they can do with the language. So if one topic doesn’t go anywhere, it’s fun. It’s not their fault. They just don’t have a lot to say about it. Let’s talk about something else. And so I really do like that.
Norah Jones: That’s fantastic. Imagine if they don’t like a topic, there might be something else to talk about. You know, when you were chatting there, thinking about the art of conversation and other podcasts we’re chatting about and will continue to chat about with guests, the art of listening, of responding to that which the person is actually saying, of building on it rather than a sequential monologue, which is what folks can get into if they’re not careful. And interesting, I reflect back that I asked about how do you make an encouraging experience, a good relationship experience with the language and with others and make them want to go overseas and meet these fascinating people who earlier were incomprehensible. You have a conversation which engages listening and topics that are of interest to both and that has mobility. That’s really wonderfully said. Thank you so much, Florencia. I appreciate that.
All right. Now, here I’ve got something for you, right? Now, you’ve had a chance here to chat and to share some ideas, but there’s probably one more thing that when you turn to the audience, you’ve got… I’ve got to make sure I say this. I’ve got to make sure they remember this. I’ve got to make sure I warned them. What something. What is it that you want our listeners to know today from you before we end?
Florencia Henshaw: When we think about the topic of control and letting go of control, I just want to just put in some things in people’s heads and then they can do with it whatever they want to do. They’re in control, not me. So some of the things that I have done myself, and maybe it just gets you thinking. If I get you thinking, that’s good for me. Re-reading your syllabus. Sometimes we sound like we are angry already on our syllabus. Like the first thing the student reads and it sounds like we are already anticipating that they’re not going to do what they should do.
Norah Jones: Oh boy.
Florencia Henshaw: And I am guilty 100% of that. And just take a step back, read it. Do you sound angry? Do you sound like you’re already thinking things are going to go wrong? So just take a look at that. Take another look at your policies and think about how important is it for students to turn in things on time. Could you give them a grace period? Could you let them re-take things or resubmit things? See if we can build in a little bit more flexibility so that it’s more focused on the learning as opposed to on the policies. The wording of a rubrics, I think it’s always fascinating. Rubrics sometimes sound like the highest level is the gold medal in the Olympics and is only the best of the best, the top of the top. And then the low score is a disappointment, insufficient, unsatisfactory. So sometimes the wording of rubric also says a lot about the tone and how much control you’re exerting over your course. So just take another look at your rubrics and see how you sound when you read the rubrics.
And the last thing I want to say, because every time I talk about control and language, inevitably somebody asked me about online translators because many teachers struggle with that. I’m one of them. I struggle with online translator use in my classes. And so I get the question, “Well, but you’re saying you don’t want to control language use. Does that mean that they can use translators?” No, not necessarily because here’s where I go back to. Am I helping language development or not? And to me, understanding if online translators can help them or not is part of what I want or do not want to control.
That being said, I wrote a long article about online translators and you can read all about it. What I definitely had to let go of, and I recommend everybody do this if you can, just let go of the trying to catch them, trying to prove it. It feels like we’re spending so much of our energy and time doing that, that I don’t know that it’s the best for our relationship with our students, the way that students are going to perceive the course or perceive us. I think it creates more issues than actually helping. I understand the frustration that teachers feel when a student uses a translator, but I think that at some point we become so obsessed with trying to catch them, trying to prove that they use a translator and then nothing really good comes after that.
Norah Jones: That’s brilliant. Truly. You know, focusing on purpose versus the process, anticipating cooperation and goodwill, staying there, especially if you’re in the leadership position in a classroom or in a conversation or in a meeting, keep inviting that cooperation and avoiding, if I may put it negatively for just a moment, avoiding proof of lack of compliance, that kind of thing.
You have… I want to make sure that the listeners recognize that you have provided us some excellent resources, including your website and your YouTube channel, but you’ve also mentioned here about the article about online translators. That’s found in the resources on my website, fluency.consulting, and you have a very nice blog post listed here in the resources as well about retakes and late work. Could that mean lack of control, my friend? I think that could.
Florencia Henshaw: That blog post, if I can highly, highly recommend it, the beauty of that blog post by AnneMarie Chase is that she wrote it as a conversation with herself. So it’s beautiful because that’s the type of conversation that I had to have with myself too and that sometimes it’s hard to have those conversations with yourself and realizing just your journey, your growth. So if you’re not quite there to let some things go yet, don’t feel bad. Nobody’s judging you. But just start thinking about it, and little by little, you start recognizing what things are helping learning and growth and what things are actually hindering it.
Norah Jones: Well said. And I think again, as a Gallup coach, whenever I hear people talk about the control issue, the first control thing to begin to work on and reflect on is our own sense of what we control in our lives. Thank you so much, Florencia. Your insights have been great. I invite folks to check out again, the resources on my website that you have provided and to connect up with you on Twitter. Thank you for providing your Twitter handle and thank you for all that you are doing for educators, for this society as it learns and grows at a time where the global connections are so critically important. Thank you for all you’re doing and for sharing today.
Florencia Henshaw: Thank you so much, Norah. Thank you for having me and thank you for all the speakers that you’ve had and all the information you’re sharing too.
Norah Jones: Thank you. Take care.Become a Sponsor