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I am the Head Language Teacher at the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto which serves newcomers to Canada.  I come to the experience of teaching through theatre.  In the classroom, I understand that learning a second language is painful.  Trying to master a second language as an adult means you will feel vulnerable, because you sound like a child.  You have mature thoughts to express but they don’t come out the way you want them to.  If I can keep them laughing long enough to become playful with the language, instead of worrying about grammar and mistakes, then it’s easier for the second language to emerge.  The heavy moments still come … but the laughing makes room for trust, which allows the important conversations to come up, which are a key part of the experience of a second language classroom.  I teach grammar, grounded in their own life experience, so that they can tell their own story.  I teach them to trust that the eloquence, wit and wisdom that they express in their first language is possible in a second language as well.

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