Friend or Foe – By Dalia Al Saad


As an ESL teacher, I deeply believe in building my students’ self-confidence, as well as helping them improve their language skills. Merely teaching a language isn’t sufficient for me. Logically, you can’t build anything without a strong foundation, and in this case a strong foundation of self-confidence and will power is needed if they want to become fluent in the English language.

A few years ago, I remember having a young girl who struggled with self-esteem issues. She really wanted to become fluent in the English language but kept doubting herself and her ability in reaching her goal. She was also a bit lazy and wanted to get fast results without putting the necessary time and effort.

One day, I started to test my students’ ability to spell random words on the board, and I remember asking her to spell the word “Transportation.” She refused to give it a try and kept saying the word was too big and difficult to spell. She was genuinely convinced that it was an impossible task to do. Being the type of teacher who loves to encourage my students to get out of their comfort zones and to give it their all, I urged her to try and do her best by following the steps that I have previously given her and her classmates. I reminded her that her best is all I could ever ask of her and that she should be proud of herself for trying. Hesitantly, she stood up and headed to the board. Taking a moment to remember how to break the word down into syllables, she started to carefully write the word. I can never forget how she slowly but surely felt more confident and proud of herself as she did so. After spelling the word correctly, I asked her classmate to take a picture of her while standing in front of her accomplishment. I then told her that she should keep this picture, as small an achievement as it may seem, as a reminder to herself that she can achieve any goal she sets for herself as long as she does not act as her own worst enemy. She was deeply touched and had teary eyes, and ever since, she has become a stronger young lady filled with ambitions and proud of her accomplishments.

This was a very special moment in my life because it made me realize how effective and powerful words can be and how they can be life changing. I believe that choosing the right words and saying them in the right tone and timing made them extremely powerful.

It’s amazing how teachers can have an enormous impact on their students’ lives and possible success by playing a role in building their characters as they preform their main role. (which in this case is teaching the English language).

So dear reader, dream big and take baby steps towards that dream in a consistent manner. Never doubt yourself or your ability to achieve any goal you set for yourself. Don’t be your worst enemy!

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