Prescription: The silent treatment for 5 full days
Occupation: English Teacher
Laryngitis a blessing… say what?
As a theater actress losing my voice has always been my worst nightmare. Now, working as a teacher, it seemed just as daunting. Who could’ve guessed that laryngitis could turn out to be such a blessing?
I lost my voice completely due to a combination of very, very little sleep and vocal fatigue. I basically did vocal gymnastics without resting for three weeks straight. There was just always something to do, so I guess sleeping didn’t make the priority list as often as it should have. I really like to sing to my students, so singing for loud students from 10-6 and little sleep was a recipe for disaster.
Luckily I am blessed with the most amazing principle who gave me free reign so run my classes as I see fit during this week of complete silence. So, I am teaching Korean students, who generally don’t know how to pronounce new words correctly WITHOUT ANY SOUND. At first it seemed impossible, but I was surprised at how well kids can hear you if you don’t say a word.
How to teach in silence
I am playing next level charades and writing a lot. My usually loud classes are all miraculously silenced by my silence. If they talk, they whisper as though they also have a vocal problem. Everyone is kind and gentle. My students are more attentive and respectful than ever. Some tips:
- Draw to explain your point.
- If you can write in hangul, use it to help them pronounce English words.
- Let them play educational games or word games like hangman. I also like to let students take turns standing in front of the board then I write a word above their head and let the rest of the class explain the word to the student without saying it. They love it!
- Let them have fun reading the work.
- Make the students the teachers.
- Use flashcards and video material.
- Use worksheets.
The Laryngitis Blessing
However, this week I am the student. This silence is teaching me so much. I am carefully observing my daily surroundings. I am just listening and absorbing.
I don’t always have to exhaust myself to keep them entertained. I don’t always have to talk to keep a conversation going. I don’t have to scream to be heard. I don’t have to raise my voice to discipline. You can get students to achieve so much more with much less nagging. Accept help and trust them to take care of you. My students are taking such good care of me, whispering they love me. People listen when you speak softly. I listen when I’m quiet. I understand when I’m quiet.
Being silent has taught me some valuable lessons LOUD AND CLEAR.