I wrote this article about my favorite class. While it is not about learning a language, I think the thoughts about learning, teachers, and what makes a good class apply equally well to the study of languages or any other subject matter, so I thought I’d share it here…
The room was small. The mirror was cracked. And I was nervous as I waited for Viola, the teacher to arrive. But the memories from the experience are large, wonderful, and long-lasting.
I had been taking ballroom classes at the local high-school in the evenings for six weeks. I had learned quickly because I love to dance and was highly motivated to progress. At the end of the session, Viola invited me to her Saturday night social evening so that I could meet other dancers and put my learning into practice. While dancing with me that evening, John described what it was like to take lessons from Viola at her studio. Instantly I knew that I wanted more!
It was obvious that Viola had made this happen because she could see in me both potential and motivation.
That evening I asked if I could join the studio classes. She agreed, and she also “primed the pump” for private lessons by informing me that I would have to work hard to catch up with the other students who had several years more experience than I had.
I started studio classes the following week. I held off on private lessons for awhile because I needed to know what my goals were. I wanted to ensure that I would receive the maximum gain for my limited investment. If I had gone too early, my advancement would have been restricted due to lack of knowledge. If I waited too long, I would be practicing bad habits that would need to be undone.
Finally – I was ready for my first private lesson. My dancing was “good enough” to achieve the benefit I was demanding from the experience. The anxiety however came from my own personality quirk of “wanting to do it RIGHT”. Nonetheless, it was a success. I left more confident than when I arrived.
Before I arrived at the class, I had told Viola what I wanted to work on. A good ballroom dancer needs good posture and a balanced frame. Mine was wishy-washy. Viola helped me understand the amount of weight that I could place on my partner and the distance I needed to keep between us in order to ensure that he always had control.
What I liked most about my “private class” was that I was the center of attention for the learning. I set the objectives that were important for my self-development. I also liked that the teaching was focused on my needs, and not on the generalities of our class. The importance of frame was discussed in all of our dance classes, but in my private class Viola was very specific on what I needed to do to improve. “Judi do not put so much weight on your partner’s arms as you will tire him out,” she said. Before this, I had never realized that I was “heavy-handed”.
The hour went by quickly. At the end of it, I came away knowing I would be a better dancer, more relaxed, and definitely more confident. That single class was money well-spent and has reaped its benefits for many years into the future.
Have you ever taken a “private class”? Did you have specific goals? What benefits did you get from the class?