Rumi in the Language Classroom: Vol. 3
One of the poems of ‘Masnavi-e-Manavi’ of Rumi depicts how risk-taking can lead to success in language classrooms. The story goes like this:
Around Rey in Persia, there was a mosque with widespread fame to kill whomever goes there. One day, a stranger arrived at the city and asked the residents to show him the mosque. Despite people’s premonition, he insisted on staying in the mosque for a night. While sleeping in a mosque, he heard a voice saying “hey man. I will kill you”. The stranger thought to himself I will stay, I will either die or win. He stood up and shouted, “come here. I’m ready”. Because of the magnitude of his voice, the ceiling collapsed, and it broke the spell. There was gold raining down everywhere. He collected all the gold and became a rich man.
What can be learned from this story of Rumi is that life is full of moments of success, but those who can seize these moments are risk-takers. Stern (1983) believes that personality factors, such as anxiety, self-esteem, and risk-taking impact language learning at least as much if not more than the cognitive skills. They are risk-taking learners who take the risk of speaking in the class despite their lack of proficiency and it promotes chances of noticing the gap (Swain, 1995) which aids learning the second language faster. The gold, available for anyone who takes the risk of staying in the mosque, truly resembles learning a second language for the learner who takes the risk of testing the hypothesis of her interlanguage. This learner deserves the best prize (like the gold for the man in Rumi’s story) which is learning the second language more efficiently.
It is, therefore, needed that language teachers encourage the learners to take a risk of contributing to the class without the fear of being humiliated. To do so, language teachers should provide an environment of trust for the learners in which they can easily take a risk of speaking fearlessly.
Rumi, M. J. M, (2017). The Masnavi I Ma’navi of Rumi. (E. H. Whinfield, Trans.). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Swain, M. (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning. In G. Cook & B. Seidhofer (Eds.), Principles and practice in the study of language (pp. 125-144). Oxford: Oxford University Press.