Education |

Using Powerful Language

Education | 23 October 2016

While you are wandering around the bookstore just look at the mountain of self-improvement titles containing all sorts of advice on how to make a better fist of our interactions with others! Among those earnestly exhorting us to improve our ways is Bernie Roth from Stanford University. Is he on to something really insightful for teachers or is he being just a little pedantic? You be the judge.

One of his most prominent tips is word swapping. “Unfortunately, everyday speech is rife with disempowering language,” he says. However, the good news, Roth has found, is that by swapping simple words and phrases for others we can quickly—and permanently—produce positive behavioural changes.

One pair of words Roth recommends we swap to get past the mental hurdles our everyday vocabulary choices put in our way is “help” and “assist”. He suggests that when students ask for help you tell them that you will not “help” them but will “assist”. Roth argues that the word “help” is often associated with “helplessness” in our minds. Helplessness implies someone is incapable of achieving something without someone else stepping in to do it for them. However, when we swap “help” with “assist,” we encourage students to see that they already have something to contribute and that they are a part of the solution.

Teachers and Teaching Assistants at AIS are strong advocates of Bernie Roth’s approach. This approach has been resounded in many Personal Development sessions for AIS academics and is championed in all our AIS campuses. It has been a truly rewarding experience to witness how AIS students have been empowered and transformed to become creative and active learners by the simple yet conscientious act of using “powerful” language.

Bruce Ferres [email protected]

AIS Indonesia - Kemang Campus

Jalan Kemang Timur No. 81
Mampang Prapatan, South Jakarta, 12730
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