By Eva Krsicková, Grammar School in Uherské Hradite, Czech Republic
Drawing by Cindy Solis and Long Nguyen.
“I hate my English teacher,” a young student of kvarta declares. It seems that at the Grammar School in Uherské Hradit students´ attitudes to learning foreign languages might range from zeal to frustration, depending on the particular teacher who is teaching them. Is it true??
The world is getting closer and distances become shorter. The need to speak at least one foreign language is enormous. At present everyone as a social creature is supposed to master two foreign languages. The Grammar school in Uherské Hradit (UH) offers its students the possibility to study French, Spanish, Russian or Latin, in addition to the most frequent foreign languages such as English or German, all supposedly taught on a high level and under the lead of carefully chosen teachers. Every year the best of the students participate in various language competitions with success.
But is it luck to be a student at the grammar school in Uherské Hradit and be taught a foreign language there? Some students don´t think so. A student of kvarta says, “I´m fed up with my English teacher! We have to learn many extracts by heart and receive a lot of homework. We don´t practise the language by informal communication during the classes...I hate her...”
But it´s probably an exception thus the real situation couldn´t be described so ill. “Oh, it´s ok. I like English and my teacher, too...” a little shy student of prima tells me. The majority is satisfied. “Our English teacher is great. I love her. She explains everything plainly. However we should talk more. After two years of studying here, my knowledge of English grammar is great, but I´m not able to speak a lot...” an older student of the second year makes out.
Another student of the fourth year observes interesting facts about their English teacher: “During English classes we don´t use any textbook. So we dedicate more time to just talking...”
“...Are you talking about our English teacher??” Her clasmate interrupts our dialogue. “He is simply wonderful and the best one. I thank him for the English I speak nowadays. I´ve improved my skills so much!!!” Another English teacher Mr. Pavlica reveals to me his point of view. “In my opinion, an immense effort to explain as many grammar rules as possible is not the best way to hand over the skill of speaking a foreign language well. Of course with the exception of students who want to continue to study it at university. Since at high school you ought to learn to speak the foreign language, no matter if with a little sum of mistakes or without them. Just to be able to communicate and understand it.”
No doubt it takes a very special person to be able to teach children or teens effectively. The headmaster of this grammar school understands this, so the majority of language teachers and especially the new ones are the best ones. Generally a teacher, who knows how to create an easy atmosphere in a class, who motivates students and encourages them to talk, is considered to be good. Many responsibilities rest on each of them. But it depends also on students, who are supposted to develop their own effort!
You can find people with fondness of complaining everywhere. Actually, it seems all our students are more or less pleased with studying at the Grammar school. What is the situation like at your school? Are foreign languages popular? How do students feel about the way they are being taught ESL?