As I keep intending to write about teaching English, I thought I should finally get a round tuit…
So, let’s get started.
This week has actually been pretty eventful. On Monday, I had my first lesson with a new student from my building. It was one of the best ideas I’ve had, to advertise for students in the building (that strange blue 70’s tower block) where I live. I now have 4 sets of students for whose lessons I need travel no farther than the distance in the lift up to the 13th, and top, floor. This guy came downstairs to my little flat so I didn’t even have to move (but I did need to tidy up!). He works for Panasonic out on the business estate here Plzen. He was extremely nice (a sci-fi fan too, i approve!) but,as usual, shy about his English abilities when faced with a native speaker. Czechs often seem to fear this and will often say things like “I can’t speak English” or “My English is horrible” as one of their first comments. Getting over this block, and restoring their confidence is one of the most important things we have to do in the lessons. And as with this guy, many students when you get talking, will have a much higher level than they let on, or even than they believe themselves. He clearly has a good head for grammar, remembers a lot of things - old knowledge from school which he is beginning to activate again. He is also, wonderfully, unlike a lot of students, able to see the logic in the horribly complex system of tenses that English dumps on the poor Czechs, who, quite reasonably, only have three: past, present, future.
(Incidentally, Czechs are quite shocked that the average British person actually has no idea what tenses English has, and that we do not learn this at school… Quick test then, British readers: what is the Present Perfect and when do you use it instead of the Past Simple?)
Next I had my business man in Mrakodrap, Plzen’s ‘Skyscraper’ or ‘Cloudscraper’ as it is in Czech. A joke among Plzeners, it is only 16 stories high. But it is a business hub, housing a few big companies including a big Czech-international ‘pay roll’ firm. (If anyone one can tell me exactly what that is, that would be great, I’ve left it too late with my student and now I’m ashamed to admit that I actually don’t really know what his company does). But anyway, the important thing is that he is a big cheese manager, who is having an intensive course to prepare for a conference he will attend in the States, all about managing. Again, he had a massive block in terms of confidence, and was also extremely suscpicious of ‘modern’ methods that try to make things ‘fun’. He wanted structure and a traditional approach. Strange then, that he chose my school MindFormers to organise this course for him, which I had thought until just yesterday was the most zany language school in Plzen… But anyway, he’s really coming along and after an initiate fear that we would never develop rapor and find common ground, we have now settled into a lovely dynamic and often laugh about something.
And then on Tuesday….
hmm, you know what, I don’t think my round tuit is quite powerful enough, I’m going to continue this later…