Why we should stop worrying about putting “bums in seats”

Remember that moment when you were so enthralled with what you were learning it seemed like time stopped? Your worries melted away and you were in that space somewhere in between reality and potential. It’s a little like being in a dream state isn’t it? You feel your untapped potential surging forward, about to launch you into a new space, where you had abilities you’d only previously dreamed about.

I remember a time like that when I was learning Spanish. It was the moment when I was so into a conversation that drudgery of memorizing verbs and vocabulary melted away. It was the moment – ever so fleeting that first time – when I was so into the moment that my lack of confidence vanished and I just spoke. It was the moment when my heart filled with joy because I realized that moment had been a dream for me – and it was coming true.

Having the ability not only to speak – but actually to engage with someone else in a meaningful conversation – was something I hadn’t been capable of in Spanish up to that point. Once I’d passed the threshold, I knew I could do it again. Knowing that spurred me on to keep learning.

Ever had a moment like that? Sure you have.

If you didn’t, you wouldn’t believe in the power of knowing other languages.

Your students have those moments, too. Or at least, they crave them. Learners crave breakthroughs; breakthroughs make a challenge worth the effort.

What are you offering your students to help them achieve those “ah ha!” moments? How are you challenging them to reach within themselves to tap into their potential? How are you making their dreams of fluency and sincere connections with others, enabled by their language learning experiences, come true?

When it comes to marketing your ESL, second language, literacy and other educational programs, keep your goals worthy and your sights firmly set on why we do what we do.

Stop worrying about how to put bums in seats.

Always worry about how to empower your students.


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


One Response to Why we should stop worrying about putting “bums in seats”

  1. Paul Rogers says:

    The worry about “persistency” (or keeping the bums in the seats) would be banished forever if programs and teachers could just focus on the students, their desires, skills, and their talents.
    Hear! Hear!
    Paul Rogers

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