We live in times when it’s almost a status symbol to say we don’t have time. We’re constantly in a rush. Sometimes it feels we’re running like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland: “I’m late. I’m late. I’m late for a very important date”!
This week, a student of mine, Rodrigo, was saying that to his defense he hadn’t had time to do his homework. He has 2 young daughters and a wife to care for at home. And his work is very demanding.
It sounded as if I gave him homework as a form of punishment. Actually, I couldn’t care less about it. Do it. Don’t do it. I won’t be any wiser because of that.
The only reasons I give students homework is to give them direction to review what was seen in class, to practice reading and writing and to expand vocabulary.
I asked Rodrigo: “Ok, let’s have a math class (incorporating other subjects to English): how many hours do we have in a week?”
After fumbling a little – 24 hours in a day – 7 days in a week … and spilling some zeros on the floor, we settled at 168 hours a week. He has 1 hour of English class per week.
“Ok,” he said. “But I have to sleep”. “Right”, I said. “So let’s be very optimistic and say you sleep 8 hours a night – in a week? 56 hours – that still leaves you with 112 hours to expose yourself to English”.
In a year? 8760 hours – if he never misses a class he’ll have had 52 hours worth of English classes. Will that be enough for any student to gain fluency?
You know the answer. So dear students, if you want to learn you will have to devise your own ways to better use your time – be creative, think out of the box.
Rodrigo likes football/soccer – great hobby – listen to podcasts about it. Read a news article online every day about the British League, translate one paragraph from the sports section in his local newspaper into English, etc.
The secret is not setting aside some crumbs of minutes to “STUDY ENGLISH” but to incorporate English in your everyday life.