Everyday, we express our gratitude to various people in a multitude of everyday situations, sometimes sincerely, other times less so. As Canadian Thanksgiving is today (note the food items sprinkled throughout this post just to make you hungry), I wanted to thank those that affect my profession positively. But first, when thinking of just the past week, I can name a number of situations where I gave thanks to someone:
- I left my credit card in the debit machine at the coffee shop today. After realising it several hours later, I went back to the store and asked if they had it. They did and gave it back to me. I said “thank you so much for keeping it.”
- My students had an in-class writing assignment that each handed to me once finished. I said “thank you” to each as I received them.
- When I left my friend’s house after she hosted a fun dinner party, I said “thank you for such a great party” with a hug just before leaving for the night.
- Around said dinner, we spoke in turn for the occasion. I said “I‘m thankful that I work with a dedicated group of colleagues!”
- At the recent 0nline TeachMeet International, I believe I began my presentation with “I‘d like to thank everyone for coming” before proceeding with my 3-minute talk.
Every night even, I list different things I’m thankful for to remind myself that I have it pretty good. And with Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, there’s never a time where more thanks is given by an overwhelming number of people around me. I like this time. Of course, from a teachable perspective, what’s interesting to note are the many ways we use language to express our thanks in different situations. Just going by my own uses this past week, we have:
thank you (so much) for + gerund ~ expression of sincere gratitude, with slightly extended thank and slightly falling intonation on you
Thank you. / Thanks. ~ term of courtesy, but not particularly sincere here, with a sharper rising intonation on you
thank you for (such) + noun ~ expression of respect in this common social situation
be thankful that + clause ~ usually preceded by being asked what you are thankful for?
would like to thank (people) for + gerund ~ used in more formal situations, preceding a talk, for example.
thank…much (1015x – this confused me considering very just above. Can you think of what other than much might follow very?)
thank God. (602x)
no thank (you)/no thanks (522x)
thank goodness (210x)
well, thank you… (204x)
thank (the) chairman (168x – obviously used in many formal speeches)
Then I thought about the other thankful words we use, like “grateful” and found there are far fewer commonly used collocates:
grateful for… (599x)
grateful to… (562x)
very grateful… (204x)
This led me to take a look at what I thought might be even less collocated, “gratitude“, which resulted in far fewer instances:
..of gratitude (197x)
gratitude to… (100x)
gratitude for… (93x)
expresss gratitude (77x)
Beyond just the lexical frequency, the context in which they are used is important for students. Since this approach, especially combined with a situation that is hard to build a unit in a coursebook out of (e.g. giving thanks, etc.), rarely has much available material, I often take note of how I use these phrases when they happen (e.g. at the top of this post) to use in one-off lessons (e.g. a Thanksgiving lesson?) or when the use of the language emerges organically (e.g. students mention a situation like the ones above but are using unnatural phrases instead, etc.) and I back it up with frequency. But I digress…
With all this teaching talk, it’s time to go back to how this post started out, and that is giving professional thanks:
I thank my lucky stars for the opportunities my job at University of Toronto has afforded me: travel to conferences, EAP teaching contexts, collaboration with truly invested educators, a swell office, money that affords me a comfortable living, respect for decisions I make, etc.
- A big thanks must go to students who year after year provide me with a job I love.
- I appreciate the fact that a bunch of us gather together every other Monday for #EAPchat – a dialogue that was missing online for a long time. [update 2015: This now lives in #tleap.]
- I am so thankful that I live in a time where my technology dreams have come true: we can attend and share at online conferences; we can connect with like-minded teachers in Brazil, Turkey, Russia, the UK, Switzerland, Greece, Korea and many other places; we can use so many cool webtools to facilitate learning.
- I am grateful and proud to be on the TESL Toronto executive board, which affords me opportunities to meet local teachers I wouldn’t normally and have input into the types of offline PD that are available in Toronto.
- I’m grateful for the dedicated colleagues both offline and online whom I get to interact and collaborate with daily.
And finally, I’d like to thank those of you who have read and interacted with me on this blog over the couple years. Being part of the online community through this blog, your blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages/groups has infinitely widened my eyes and ears to the global community that exists, one I’m very happy to be a part of. Can’t wait to see many of your in Kamloops and even more in Paris!
What in your professional life are you thankful for?