As a new year, and a new decade (my God) begins, I've been thinking about the future.
Last year was difficult. I live in the UK (maybe you do too, maybe not), and things have been very difficult politically lately. We are now exiting from the EU. With a right-wing government that has a very strong majority.
I have been sad, I have been frustrated, I have been deflated, and I have been angry. But I know that it's not just in the UK that things are difficult. In many other countries, similar things are happening and there seems to be a shift towards more isolationist and protectionist policies.
I don't want to become a politician. I don't want to become an activist. But I do want to make a difference.
The more I see of what's happening, the more I really feel that us language teachers have a huge role to play in the future.
We can expand people’s ‘bubbles’ by teaching them our language, so they can read and understand media and literature from our countries. We can widen people’s webs and networks by publishing, sharing and telling stories about our own country and our culture. And we can learn more about their cultures too.
Familiarity overcomes and destroys fear. And in order to understand culture, language is a key component.
Language builds bridges.
We can encourage integration on a worldwide scale. With our skills, together with technology, we can share cultural values and understanding, way beyond the classroom. We can build bridges, spread knowledge and increase empathy. And today, more than ever, it’s badly needed.
I think we need to stick together.
I think we need to share our experiences. Support each other. Talk. Be there for each other. Connect. Learn. Grow.
I know it's not much at this stage, but I have just opened up a private FB group. I don't know where it will lead. But that's part of the journey as a solo entrepreneur (I actually dislike that word, is there a better one?!). You have to be brave and take a small step, without knowing where it leads.
So this will be my little step now. My first step out on the 'dance floor'.
My intention with this group is first and foremost for us to connect and support each other. Share tips and advice. Have a place to hang out and discuss. Cheer each others' achievements. Pick each other up when we're down. But I'm also planning to offer online workshops and maybe in the future online courses, where you can learn more about marketing, business strategy, IT/tech and so on, to set up and/or expand your online language business. Depending on what you guys need and want. Perhaps even organise some kind of event where we can meet in person one day.
Those are some of my loose thoughts for now. But let's keep an open mind and see what it turns into! As with anything, it's all about taking a step and see where it leads.
We'll build this thing together.
Hope to see you on the inside.