• Renate Yotti

10 winning qualities of successful students - Lessons from a language teacher

Hi, my name is Renate and I am a huge fan of Tatiana and all that she does! She has asked me to share some lessons that I have learnt from my experience as a language teacher.

Wait, language teaching? But isn’t this a site all about learning to play the flute? Well yes, but I feel that the two certainly share some similarities. They both need lots of practice and dedication for one. In the beginning, the journey can often feel overwhelming and insurmountable. There is lots of fumbling through new sounds and much repetition! Learning to speak the language of music can be equally as challenging as learning to speak a foreign language.

In my role as a language teacher, I have observed some qualities and attitudes in my students that have put them above the rest. I would like to share ten of these with you, in the hope that they will help you too.

1. Openness

Students who come to class with an openness to learning new things, receive so much more! When you are open to what someone else has to share, you will benefit greatly.

2. Setting goals

Students who know what they want to achieve, end up being more focused and therefore more successful than those who just come to learn in a general way. Making your goals personal and attainable also really helps. For example: I want to be able to talk about my hobbies in German, or, for the flutist: I want to be able to play E minor without stumbling.

3. Determination

Time and time again, I have seen determined students reach their goals. Despite setbacks, difficulties or even outright failure, the students who keep showing up, keep practising and keep working are the ones who end up being successful.

4. Enjoyment

It may seem obvious, but this is a biggie! Enjoying the ride, despite some bumps in the road, is going to be the motivating force you need to dust yourself off and keep going. Remind yourself of what you love about playing the flute, what inspires you? Remind yourself of these positives regularly. It will help you on the days you feel unmotivated.

5. Applying teacher feedback

As a teacher, my goal is to get students to keep improving, to motivate and encourage them. One of the ways in which I do this is to give them very specific feedback on how they can improve. When students take this advice on board (for example – practise using verbs in sentences more), they will see improvement in their weak areas.

6. Self-reflection

This goes along with point number 2. When students regularly reflect on their own progress and learning experience, it helps them to get a better idea of where they are and what they need to work on. Involving their teacher or even peers in this process can also be helpful.

It can be helpful to ask yourself questions like: Have I achieved the goals that I have set for myself? Where have I struggled? Where have I improved? Using that information, students can then set new goals for themselves. When you do this, don’t forget to celebrate how far you have come!

7. Peer learning

Learning from other students can be extremely helpful. Sometimes they may have a helpful hint or something that has worked for them that you can benefit from and vice versa. I have so often seen students learning from each other and understanding material in a way that I couldn’t necessarily relay to them. So – make use of communities, share information, learn from others! You will be richer for it.

8. Independent learning

This may seem like a contradiction to some of my previous points but let me explain. There are students in my class who only work in class and don’t look at a book or practise when they get home. Showing up to class is definitely important, but applying what was taught or practised is arguably even more important. Own your learning, don’t just leave it up to the teacher. Do your own research, practise, make your learning journey your own.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

I love questions and encourage them in my classes. I am usually skeptical of the students who say they understand everything, haha. Asking questions is not a sign of weakness or even stupidity, it is how we learn. So ask, ask, ask.

10. Grabbing hold of opportunities

When you are learning, opportunities will come your way. Someone asked you to play at their wedding? Great! You have the chance to study the flute with a great musician? Awesome! And these don’t necessarily have to be big opportunities. I remember a student who was thrilled to be able to practise her German with a neighbour’s relative who was staying with them for a few days. It helped her to gain confidence. Another decided to watch a German series that was running on Netflix and said that it really helped her to improve her pronunciation. Yay! Use the opportunities you get, big or small.

Wishing all of you much success and enjoyment as you continue on your musical journey.

Renate Yotti is a high school German teacher. She also loves words and has co-authored a poetry collection with Tacham Deowm entitled Cross-Over (available on Amazon). She wrote this under her second name, Linda, and also runs ‘Linda Writes’, a faith-based blog which you can read at www.lindawrites35.blogspot.com

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