Learning series: Dare to doubt – Part 3

Ask your Doubts‘Any doubts?’ asked the teacher. No verbal response. Some students shake their hands and others look around to see the reactions. Some others will not heed as they were not even paying attention to what the teacher was saying.

The day of the exam comes and the grades are poor. However, no one seemed to have any problems before.

The fear to doubt

We fear to show doubt. It seems so foolish to interrupt the flow of the class or just to admit that there is indeed a doubt. Why would I expose myself to public shame? What if I ask and don’t understand it again? Let it go. I can try on my own at home.

Receba aqui um prêmio que vai ajudar você a falar inglês!

Clique aqui e acesse!

It is true that doubting can feel uncomfortable and set us apart in the crowd. We are misinterpreted and have to put up with certain attitudes. We have to tolerate those who have doubts, but who will not tell anyone for fear of being criticised or being disruptive. They choose the nonsensical role of criticising those who are looking for some enlightenment.

Others have doubts too and this seems to be written all over their faces. Yet they prefer the silence and the secret relief of seeing someone else asking the questions they did not dare to ask. They live waiting for someone else do what they fear to do.

Free yourself!

The root of the problem is that we live in a society where the idea of being smart means, for many, not to show doubt. Be affirmative and make all efforts to display confidence all the time (as if confidence meant absence of doubt!).

We avoid judgment and want to blend in. Have you ever thought about it? You are afraid to doubt because you do not want to be judged, but you are not afraid to queue up with those who do not know (and do not grow) because they do not ask; because they do not clarify. Does it make any sense?

Freedom is a valuable thing in life. Having things understood frees you. Do not spoil it because you do not want to seem inadequate, picky, disruptive. Clarify your mind, ask for a repeat, check your understanding. Even when the doubt comes later or you remain in doubt, run after those who can help.

Be smarter

Not everyone communicates things in a clear way all the time and teachers are not an exception. Bits of conversations and speeches can be messy, truncated, confusing. Check. Ask. Do that with the right attitude of one who wants to learn. This is not only smart, this is respectful. You want to understand. Choose to be counted among the wise.

Be smarter – dare to doubt!

~ Erica De Monaco Lowry ~

Previous: Partner with the encouragers | Next: The Comedy of Errors

Há quanto tempo você estuda inglês? Já passou por sua cabeça que você pode estar estudando de uma forma que dá pouco ou quase nenhum resultado? Que tal fazer um intensivo de inglês de 180 dias e recuperar o tempo perdido? Em 6 meses você pode elevar o seu inglês a um novo nível. Clique aqui e saiba como.


Erica De Monaco Lowry

Erica De Monaco Lowry has been living in Ireland since 2008. She is a teacher, an interpreter, a translator, a tour guide and an insatiable learner. Her favorite pastimes include reading, travelling, socialising and catching up with her family.

9 comentários

  • 19/02/14  
    Sergio Assis diz: 1

    Estou iniciando minha jornada neste campo de aprendizagem da língua inglesa,
    por hora estou tentando formar uma base sólida na competência de ler e entender os textos. Estou formando um vocábulário básico.
    LI o seu post e quero parabenizá-la pelo texto publicado.
    Sergio Assis

    • 19/02/14  
      Erica diz:

      It’s great to be of any help to you, Sergio. All the best with your studies! :-)

  • 19/02/14  
    Felipe Haag diz: 2


    Sempre soube que o certo é “Any questions?” já que quando você usa o “doubt” está duvidando do que a pessoa/professor está falando, diferente da conotação que temos em Português, onde “alguma dúvida?” tem o sentido de “alguma pergunta”, diferente do que acontece no Inglês.

    Espero seus comentários.

    Thanks for your attention,


    • 19/02/14  
      Erica diz:

      Hello, Felipe. You’re right in pointing this out. Good example of what to do when you are in doubt! ‘Do you have any questions?’ is generally used after something has just been explained. However, I used ‘doubts’ (which is also correct) to emphasise two things here: a) an exam follows the explanation, therefore, the teacher has to make sure that their explanation/review is crystal clear with the students. More than questions is what is being asked here. If they didn’t get anything, they have to say. It’s now or never; b) the title of this piece is ‘Dare to doubt’ and the word ‘doubts’ in the very first sentence was chosen to emphasise the issue that is dealt with throughout the text. Hope it helps. :-)

    • 19/02/14  
      Flávia Magalhães diz:

      Felipe, eu também tenho um receio enorme em usar “doubt”, dada a possibilidade de acharem que eu estou duvidando de algo!

  • 19/02/14  
    Aline diz: 3

    Hi!! I adored this text. Unfortunately, it shows the truth, and sometimes for ours students is hard to ask any for teachears. Howewer, this reality need to change! Thank you so much.

  • 21/02/14  
    Henry Cunha diz: 4

    On the other hand, my message to the teacher is, if after you’ve taught a unit you are surprised to find that the grades are poor, and you had not anticipated the outcome, then perhaps you should be considering another line of work.

    I couldn’t agree more that learners should not be afraid to ask questions. But if from experience learners know that the teacher really has no Plan B for teaching a particular notion or concept, then what they quickly learn to do is to spare the teacher the embarrassment. This is probably common in a lot of schools that have “their own method” that teachers are supposed to follow; and I daresay there probably aren’t a lot of teachers sufficiently knowledgeable in English, as their real working language, or in on-the-spot pedagogical assessment of whether students “acquired” the notion under study, to be able to recover from a classroom situation which everyone can sense isn’t really going very well.

    So I throw the responsibility back on the teacher. If that person has spent an hour introducing some aspect of language, leading students through a series of skill areas (listening, viewing, speaking, etc.), then that teacher should have elicited sufficient feedback to know fairly well how well the class has “acquired” of the subject.

    Teachers, “test” at your own peril. That test result is as much a grade on you as on your students!

    • 21/02/14  
      Flávia Lima de Magalhães diz:

      Excelentes palavras, Henry.
      Infelizmente, aqui no Brasil atualmente a demanda por aulas de inglês é tão alta que infelizmente a oferta de bons professores acaba ficando comprometida. Já fiz aula demonstrativa em escolas “famosas”, e fiquei com vontade de, em vez de me tornar aluna deles, dar consultoria sobre o que um boa escola de inglês realmente deve oferecer.

  • 21/02/14  
    Erica diz: 5

    Henry, my draft was twice as long as it is. The part I removed was exactly a comment on the teacher’s role. A friend of mine pointed out some things you wrote above when she read the draft. Yet this issue cannot be exhausted with one piece and I have decided to shorten the texts a little bit. Also I had to start somewhere. It would be ideal, but I could not predict all the details that would cover what the teacher had already done in order to defend how much better the students could behave. It’s a learning series, so I emphasised on the learner’s attitude. As a teacher I have huge responsibilities, but the job of learning is twofold. I believe the greatest challenge of a teacher is not to get as much knowledge as possible; it’s to succeed in teaching how to learn. Then and only then I can expect my students to help me to lead them to an effective learning. But as a teacher who will always be a learner, I know I have lots to improve. The piece was only from that point of view. A teaching series is a good idea for the future.