The Silence of the Walls

As you may remember, I’m teaching a summer course at a private language school. As someone who has invested a great deal of thought and energy into the creation of the English Room which is our learning center, I’m very aware of physical space.

The room at the language school is quite new, with a fresh coat of white paint. No peeling walls or old chairs with metal legs that I’m busy collecting tennis balls for (think of walkers for infirm people). At the high-school I’m currently in the process of getting each metal legĀ  inside a ball to stop scraping noises (many thanks to Netalie Wolfson for this brilliant idea!).

The computer is wonderful and the room has a projector. When you turn on the projector the screen slides down automatically. The whiteboard is huge so there is some room left to write on the side even when the screen is down. The computer in my own classroom is good too (no projector) but the school intentionally left us with an old screen when it upgraded the computer. The kids then think the computer is old and complain. This how the school holds on to the feverent hope that the computer won’t be stolen.

The air conditioner at the language school is AWESOME! Not only does it work really well, but the best thing about is that nobody knows how to turn it off. The 20-something year old girls in my course are just like my teenage girl students. They come skimpily clad, complain of being cold but scoff at my suggestion of bringing some sort of wrap. In school, arguments ensue and I can’t always stop some of the students from turning off the air conditioner on their own and then on again. I expend a lot of energy when I teach and I’m simply delighted with the temperature.

However, those nicely painted wall of the language school are bare. Empty. Just white. Those walls aren’t doing a single useful thing (English wise, that is. I really am grateful that they are holding up the ceiling!).

In my school classroom, the upper half of one entire wall is covered with a carpet. That’s perfect for hanging large flashcards which can be used for practicing or just to look at for reference. Easy to replace and reorginize. During the summer course, every time we encounter a phrasal verb, I have to stop myself from saying – well, just look over there, do you remember now?

Those walls hold no notice board for those who repeatedly forget things announced. This is particulary good as a self defense strategy for those who try to claim I never even made the announcements in the first place. I just silently point to the notice board and that’s that.

There is nowhere to hang diplomas. I have a sneaky feeling that adults would like that too but I haven’t tested that theory out.

The back of the door in the language school is empty as well. One can’t hang things for color and well, for fun. Nobody (not even the teachers’ aids) knew what an otter was but they still enjoy looking at the adorable picture on the door, as shown here:

I enjoy teaching this summer course and I certainly enjoy the modern perks. But I have to keep holding my hand down to refrain from pointing to the walls where there is nothing useful!



4 thoughts on “The Silence of the Walls”

  1. Hi Naomi!

    Thank you for this post – I love how you present each classroom and focus on the positive aspects of them mainly.

    About the white walls….well, I don’t mean to sound critical, but I find it a bit of a shame, for the students not having anything to look at or the teacher to direct them to, as you mentioned. Things on the walls also make it so pleasant to the eye, it fills the room with colours and the teacher and students are in a different mindframe. I remember once in our school in Greece, we got a student who left another school and while he was telling us about the previous school – what stood out most for me were his big round eyes when he said: “And you know what? They had NOTHING on the walls like you do!”

    The other things in the classroom (projector, whiteboard) sound great! I love having a projector in the classes I teach in.

    Super post!

    1. Vicky!
      You said: “Things on the walls also make it so pleasant to the eye, it fills the room with colours and the teacher and students are in a different mindframe.”
      That’s exactly what I mean! Thanks!

  2. Your idea to create a suitable and comfortable habitat for your English classes is fantastic and very motivating to build up good frame of mind like in a new space where to go to, a trip to explore through. I’d add realia and screens to set up an atmosphere of travellling and being in a sort of specific place, enjoyable, relaxing, imaginative.

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