Patience is key
At the end of August this year I moved from London, UK, to a small town in Quebec, Canada, called Matane to work as an English language assistant. Patience is a word that has appeared in many forms over the past two months.
Patience in the classroom
I don't see myself as being the most patient person in the world but there was something that struck me on my first week of work. I had just finished a session with two students and just as they were leaving the classroom, one of the students turned back and said: 'Thank you for your patience.' That was an early reminder of the importance of being patient as a teacher. It also made me reflect on the language teachers that I have had over the years, ones that demonstrated a high level of patience and understanding that has shaped my language learning path versus those who wanted to rush the process. Moreover, it helped me to realise the importance of demonstrating patience in the classroom as it can be the difference between building someone's confidence in a language or breaking down their confidence entirely. Being patient as a teacher means empathising with the students. It is not easy learning a new language and allowing students to find their way will benefit them in the long term.
Patience from others
Living my life constantly in French is not easy but the people of Quebec are very patient. They repeat things several times and they are more than happy to wait whilst I find the correct words to express myself and find the correct word order. It's a learning process but with the patience of others, the process is slightly less daunting. At the end of the day, making mistakes shows you are trying and I think that is greatly appreciated by Quebecers.
Being patient with myself
When I first arrived in Matane I kept getting headaches from having to concentrate all the time due to the language and even overhearing other people's conversations was hard work! I had to keep reminding myself that it would take time, and two months later the headaches are a distant memory and my ears have become more tuned to the Quebecois accent. The key is to be patient with yourself. There is no shortcut to learning a language, but it will be worth it in the end.