I did something today that I HATED. I have this new business opportunity that I can’t take on at this point in my life and so I trying to find someone in my life that is interested and willing to run with it. (It’s totally unrelated to language teaching.) I scheduled a bunch of phone calls for this week to talk to my friends that I think would be a great fit for this opportunity, and today was my first serious business call. I planned it three days ago and I have been dreading it ever since. I spent all morning completely preoccupied thinking about my impending appointment. The time finally arrived. I followed through and I did it. I felt so uncomfortable through the whole thing and I didn’t do it well. It felt like failure and it probably sounded like failure…but it was not failure. Failure would have been not doing it at all. Failure would be not trying again tomorrow…and try again tomorrow I will!

I wonder if you have ever felt the same way about trying out a new activity in your language class. It has been a long time since I have stepped as far out of my comfort zone as I did today; I had all but forgotten what that feels like. I had forgotten what a big ‘ask’ it is when I say to you, “Just give CI a try!”

“Just give it a try??!” It’s not always that easy, is it? The fear can almost be crippling. We run over and over and over our plans in our head—I even role played the call with my four year old, guys!!—and all we want is for the time to come so we can be done with it but in the same moment we want to call the whole thing off, call in sick, run away because it’s TERRIFYING!

If you have been thinking about Dipping Your Toes in CI but are paralyzed by fear—fear of the unknown, fear of failure—whatever it may be, I want you to know today that you can conquer that fear with belief. I wrote out my “Big Why” on a big piece of paper and I have been reading it over and over and over again all week. WHY am I dedicating any of my precious time to sharing this business? WHY am I sending my stress level through the roof? I don’t need this opportunity, but I know that I know someone who does. I have a mission and a vision and by golly I am going to walk it out. Also throw up because I’m so nervous…but walk it out anyway.

How could making your classes more input-rich, more comprehensible, and more personalized impact your students’ lives? How could it impact YOUR life? Think about it, write it down, and internalize it. Then DO IT, even though it’s hard. Next time, it will be easier….you’ll do better…eventually, what was once uncomfortable will be as easy as slunking down into your favorite armchair with a hot cup of tea.

I believe in you!


14 replies on “On failure

  1. Thank you so much for this! I am a CI newbie, have learned the basics, but am such a creature of habit that it’s hard to break out of my shell and just go for it! So thank you for reminding me that what we think of as failure may not be failure at all.

  2. Thanks for this! This is my second year with CI and I am JUST NOW getting the grasp of PQA. I have tried and tried in the past and always fallen short. Now, all of a sudden, I am connecting more with my students and we are having even more fun that before. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

    1. Thanks for sharing; that is super encouraging!! It feels impossible to know when you first try something if it’s just never going to work or if it just needs some time

  3. CI is the best thing that has happened to my teaching. Students are actually trying to speak in the TL and I am enjoying class.

  4. Check out Tina Hargaden and Ben Slavik. “Untargeted” and don’t do PQA …..we need to get started, conquer that features and enjoy the kids and our jobs again. Thanks for this honest portrayal of fear of failure. You’re right!! Only failure is not doing it! Love the photo here…take a leap!! Use TL and goooooo!!!

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been reading and reading about CI and trying things here and there but fear stops me from really jumping in. I’m going to spend some time over Thanksgiving break to write out my why and what could happen for students if I go for it versus if I just stay the same. So hard but I know it will be so worth it as the things I’ve already tried have made such an improvement. Thanks for remembering to encourage us “fearful newbies” 🙂

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