Call and Response

Call out! It was the first thing you ever did, and it’s likely you haven’t stopped since. We were born with the knowledge that if we cry there is someone to hear and respond to us. Humanity’s very first impulse is to communicate with the desire, the need to be understood. 

In a safe family environment, you know that your parent is there to hear you, and cares enough to respond in love. Even before speech or articulate understanding, you have a natural instinct to communicate in expectation of a reply. 

As we grow, this inborn impulse is channeled into speech. We speak to one another, we speak to ourselves (though often silently). We even speak to the future by keeping a record of the present.

Speak and be heard, then hear and speak back. This rhythm of call and response makes up the fabric of life from a coffee order on the way to class to the negotiations of major political powers—a tremendously powerful thing. Teaching language can expand a student’s access to that power.

Reaching out is powerful, but it can also be vulnerable. And there is beauty that comes from this. When self-expression comes at a cost, it also becomes a valuable gift and a compliment—saying “I trust you enough to share my story.” And those who do care to hear give a gift as well by listening with the sincere desire to understand. 

This is why we teach language. In a reality where communication is at the root of every interaction, it opens the door for students to speak to a larger world where English happens to be one of the common tongues at the moment. See where we teach.

This is why we learn languages. It allows us to truly listen to our students as people with an innate desire to be heard and understood. All of our long-term teachers have an opportunity to learn their host language; whether through immersion (think grocery shopping or connecting with neighbors), formal part-time training (a few hours a week), or full-time study. 

Teaching English and learning language cross-culturally is about so much more than what can be seen on the surface. It is about the care that can be shown through the call and response that is built into our human experience and the unity that can come from embracing that vulnerability. Find out how you can be a part of this work.

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