The Issue of Aptitude
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Aptitude to learn foreign languages is fuel for discussion as well with sociopolitical and ideological implications.
Aptitude in its general definition is the natural pre-disposition some people are born with and making them better learners, where in the case of a foreign language they would learn faster and easier than others.
Scientific research has tried to attest the role of aptitude in learning and has often failed to provide conclusive evidence to the idea that some individuals have a natural predisposition to learn certain things, though this is the belief that persists among educators, students, and the society in general - that some people are "born with it” and are "natural talents".
This is a belief that does pose a series of problems for the teaching-learning process not only in TESOL, but also in all aspects of the formation of individuals.
Many students experience learning difficulties that can be perfectly bypassed or overcome, enabling such students to achieve educational success. However, educators and students believe that such students would be naturally lacking the aptitude and therefore incapable of learning, with little faith placed on their success.
If students face difficulties in their normal education and formation, and are discriminated as lacking aptitude, how much more will they suffer when they face difficulties in learning a second language, especially one that is key to the professional success, as is the case of the English Language in Brazil?
Such a student ends up losing faith in him/herself, believing that they lack the intellectual capacity to learn a second language and therefore end up not even trying to learn, or see it as a social obligation.
Without the student's involvement in the process, what are the chances of success in learning a second language? Very little or none! This is because students are forced to believe that their faith is sealed and that their inaptitude to learn will yield nothing more than failure.
However, even those who have aptitude for learning a second language can become frustrated if the method used by the educator is unsuitable.
Is not an English teacher one who teaches English?
What makes one English teacher different from the next?
What sets TESOL - Teaching English as a Second Language apart from the normal Teaching of English?
TESOL takes into account the origin of the student and the environment in which the students develops what he/she learns.
TESOL in Brazil differs from TESOL in the United States or England as students in English speaking countries have the opportunity to experience (are forced to experience) the English Language outside the classroom and on the streets, being constantly bombarded with the new language they are studying.
TESOL students in Brazil do not have such an experience and therefore any TESOL methodology employed by educators here, including those of the public school system, must take into account the peculiarities of the country.
Students in Brazil are exposed to English through the media, entertainment, academics and professional settings but not enough to allow them to naturally develop their oral skills to a satisfactory level of fluency.
TESOL operators in Brazil must therefore find ways to meet student's needs once they are able to identify what it is exactly that students need: the knowledge to read and interpret texts for academic and professional purposes, or to communicate in all aspects, including orally.
Should Brazil wish to continue being part of the globalized world, as indeed should all nations, and if it is to survive economically, and maintain the excellence of diplomacy it so proudly claims to have, and continue to welcome visitors from around the world, it must invest and encourage TESOL in both private and public educational sectors.
“Mandarin” is not the language of global communication, despite the number of people who speak it. “English” is!
It may be a second or third language to many, but it is the language of choice of the majority who wish to send a message out to fellow inhabitants of the planet near or far.