As I write through the mental fog of jet-lag, one thought is clear: every English language teacher should be required to visit a country whose language she neither speaks nor understands. See how confidently and easily the natives speak their own language! What little thought they seem to give to the words filling the air! While we, the visitors, strain to recognize sounds that contain even a hint of meaning. A teacher must never forget that an adult language learner is a fish out of water, a mature being at home in a different sea.
This thought has sprung from my visits last week to Italy, Spain and Portugal. I was impressed with the level of English I heard, but sorry I had not had more time to master a larger number of non-English phrases. As it turned out, body language often saved the day. I now return to my teaching sessions doubly impressed with the efforts my students make to learn the language I speak so easily and confidently.