Title: Finding ways to SMILE☺ as a learner and teacher
Mukogawa Women’s University
There is an expression that I want to share with you. It is “the shortest distance between two people is a smile”. When I am meeting new students, I want them to feel relaxed and to enjoy using English. When I ask students, “Does a smile make you feel happy?” Quickly, students smile back at me and say “yes” ☺
Building a positive communication bridge between people often begins with a nonverbal gesture, such as a smile. When we talk to new people, it is challenging to overcome shyness or fears of making mistakes in English. I know this firsthand, for I did not speak Japanese before I moved to Nishinomiya in 2009. I needed a lot of SMILES when I first arrived in Japan.
What does it mean to SMILE in a conversation?
S: Start with a question
M: Make mistakes
I: Increase your interest in people around you
L: Listen and repeat
E: Enjoy your life
“S” means ‘Start with a question’
Ask ‘how are you?’ or ‘where are you from?’ to create an opportunity to meet someone.
“M” means ‘Make mistakes’
Do not worry about grammatical errors or pronunciation problems when talking. It is important to relax and do your best to communicate about your ideas. The freedom to make mistakes usually leads to more successful communication, not less.
“I” means to ‘Increase your interest in people around you’
It is not easy to meet new people, especially for shy or reserved students, so this step is sometimes the hardest one. Increasing an awareness of others and asking them to share about themselves is a skill that many students have not practiced outside of circle of family and friends.
“L” means to ‘Listen and repeat’
When you hear a new name or something that you want to remember, it helps to repeat the information. Also to say a person’s name in the conversation makes him or her feel that you care.
“E” means ‘Enjoy your life’
When you are enjoying your life, smiling happens naturally. Every day has a purpose in it. If we enjoy each day to the fullest, the possibilities for life’s adventures are endless.
The meaning of SMILE is more than just being friendly. It is an approach to life that creates many opportunities to live a rich and full life. ☺