New Year’s Resolutions: Discussing Change in English Class

New Year’s Resolutions: Discussing Change in English Class

New, year, debt.

“To modernize is to adopt and to adapt, but it is also to recreate.”

Octavio Paz, (1914-1998), Mexican writer and diplomat.

Holidays and anniversaries often prompt personal reflections. As a new year beckons, millions of English language learners and thousands of English teachers  reflect on their lives and make new year resolutions. In that same spirit, here are a few questions worth asking:

  • What did you find satisfying in 2016?
  • What were some magic days and memorable moments?
  • What English words will you choose to remember?
  • What English lessons would you prefer to forget?

Sometimes we look back with satisfaction on our classroom achievements, and sometimes we look back in regret. Almost everyone hopes for a happy, healthy, and more prosperous and productive new year. The challenge remains how we can move forward, and talking about change and hopes for change seems like a natural place.

Moving Forward

Often, we openly declare our hopes and goals for the New Year with bold resolutions that require serious change in our habits. We also know that change can be hard, surprising, and sometimes liberating in our classrooms and in our personal lives.

With this in mind, an oft-asked question is “Where to start?” In my experience, outlining personal and academic/professional goals goes a long way. Try using the following prompts to get both yourself and your students started.

  • What do you hope for in 2017?
  • What changes would you like to make? Why?
  • How do you plan to realize your goals in the next year?
  • How will you measure personal success in 2017?
  • How will you measure your academic success in 2017?
  • Are you ready to keep your New Year resolutions?

Given the rate of exceptional technological and social change in the 21st century, I find that discussing the topic of Change a perennial winner in my advanced English classes. Although public opinion surveys show that only a small percentage of Americans keep their New Year resolutions to change after a month, I suspect we can increase those odds of our English students by candidly discussing our hopes and plans to change.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? How will you commit to change in the new year?

Feel free to use this sample Compelling Conversations chapter on Change in your English class, as well as this combo chapter on Celebrating American Holidays from the Compelling American Conversations Student/Teacher editions.

Ask more. Know more. Share more.

Create Compelling Conversations.

About the Author

Eric H. Roth teaches international graduate students the pleasures and perils of academic writing and public speaking in English at the University of Southern California (USC). He also consults English language schools on communicative methods to effectively teach English. Roth co-authored Compelling Conversations: Questions and Quotations on Timeless Topics in 2006 to help English language learners increase their English fluency. Recommended by English Teaching Professional magazine, the advanced ESL textbook has been used in over 50 countries in English classrooms and conversation clubs. Easy English Times, an adult literacy newspaper, has published a monthly column, “Instant Conversation Activities,” based on the book since 2008. The first specific version for a particular country, Vietnam, was published in 2011. Compelling American Conversations came out in 2012, and Compelling Conversations – Japan arrived in 2015. Eric enjoys sharing reflections, resources, and teaching tips on this #ESL #EFL #ELT blog.

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