Productive Failure


I have always had a problem with learning foreign languages.  Especially when it comes to the grammar. Memorization is not that hard if I put my mind to it, but learning the grammar is a struggle.  Last semester I took German 1, and I passed it.  Not because I was good at it, but because the class was set up in such a way that it was fairly easy to breeze through.  This semester not so much.

At the beginning of this semester I started German 2.  It was without a doubt harder.  She expected us to take quizzes every few weeks on the grammar and the vocab.  For the first quiz I only studied for a day or two, and surprise surprise, I failed it.  I think I made a 64.  Ouch.  But, this failure taught me that I could not just cruise through this class to pass.  I had to actually work at it this time around.  Something I wish I had realized last semester so I would not have started so behind this semester.  But, it’s too late for that.  After the horrible failure of that first quiz I started to work much harder.  I tried to listen better in class, take better notes, and participate and ask questions.  I started to study the grammar every night for at least a couple of hours, and I slowly started to understand it better.  I work as a waitress, so during the slow times at work I started to study my vocabulary.  By the time the next quiz rolled around I had a strong grasp of the vocabulary and I at least vaguely understood the grammar.  Like I said, it is my weakness.  Yet, I came to class as prepared as I could be and I passed the quiz with an 86.  Not the best grade in the world.  But for me, in this class that I hate because I am not good at, that was a 110.  My failure taught me that I had to work harder and stop coasting.  It taught me that just because I was not naturally good at something did not mean that I could not learn it.  Its been rough having this class, but I have learned some German, and I have learned from the class over all.  Our failures are valuable.  They teach us in a way that success without failure never could.  Without failure to compare it to, success would not taste as good.  Just like happiness.  Without sadness being happy would mean less.

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