The art of thinking...

The art of thinking...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Kde domov můj? - Where is my home?

The title of this post is the opening line to the Czech National anthem. The rest of the anthem continues as folllows:
Kde domov můj, kde domov můj,
voda hučí po lučinách,
bory šumí po skalinách,
v sadě skví se jara květ,
zemský ráj to na pohled!
A to je ta krásná země,
země česká domov můj,
země česká domov můj!
Where is my home, where is my home,
Water roars across the meadows,
Pinewoods rustle among crags,
The garden is glorious with spring blossom,
Paradise on earth it is to see.
And this is that beautiful land,
The Czech land, my home,
The Czech land, my home!
I really appreciate the words of this song - it certainly captures the beauty of this land. For example, you can't beat the smell of pine woods on a warm summer's day - the kind of smell that you want to bottle up and take a sniff of in winter, but you just can't do it. The closest people get is creating some dodgy air freshener :)!

The lyrics of this anthem also capture my thoughts at the moment. I have decided to go truly native and to get Czech citizenship! Maybe because of the possible consequences of 'Brexit'? - though nobody really knows with any certainty what those will be. Maybe because we've lived here for nearly 16 years, and I've kept a steady job for the last 11 years? Maybe because it really does feel like home? Perhaps there's a lot of truth in that last statement. Petra & I love it here. We have no plans to return to live in Great Britain, and (at the moment) we're not thinking of moving to any other country (though Switzerland or Scotland are always tempting! :)).

So, I have begun the long-winded process to become a Czech citizen. I discovered that I need to do 2 exams - one on Czech language, and one for Czech realie (history, geography, politics, law, traditions etc). After some confusion with the local agencies, Petra contacted Prague and they have kindly confirmed that my Czech Maturita certificate DOES cover me for the language part - which is a great relief NOT to have to go through all that again! Having gone through it on the website, I'm sure I would have been ok, but it would have been SO frustrating to have to do such an exam again, and all the stress connected with it. 

However, the Czech realie exam awaits me on Sat 23rd September! It's only a 30 minute exam to complete 30 multiple-choice questions. The pass mark is 60%. I attach the link to it here: 
Czech realie test

I'm curious - I wonder what marks my students & friends would get? I'll reveal my mark later, but it's enough to say I passed it & it only took me 8 minutes :) My years of living here & an intensive year of studying for Czech Maturita have not been wasted!! 

Assuming that I am successful with this exam, then I have to wait for my result & then book an appointment (perhaps in early December?) & have a 2 hour interview, where I will take a load of paperwork (too much to mention!). Then I have to wait 6 months to see if I have been accepted. If I have, then I will go to the Olomouc Town Hall, take my vows to be a good Czech citizen, and then pay some money for that privilege :) 

It could take some time. I will keep my readers posted as to how the journey goes! :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Summer is over...

Today was my first day of work in 2 months! I'm one of those rare people who actually enjoy their jobs, and though I could quite easily enjoy another week or two of doing what I want to do, I believe it's good to be involved in something as active and rewarding as the job I do. I think 2 months is more than enough time to get refreshed and recharged and re-envisioned for what will be my 12 year at SGO. It's still hard to believe that I've got 11 years behind me, when I look back to my first year...and I'm sure a lot of memories will come flooding back, and some might get the cobwebs blown off them, when I go to class reunion (4A of 2006-2007) this Saturday ☺!!

My summer holidays were great - everything I needed. A week of good walks & mountains & beauty in the High Tatras, a couple of visits to the family cottage in Vysocina to do some work & spend time with family, a lot of cycling in the beautiful countryside around Velka Bystrice & beyond, meeting up with lots of friends, walks in the country, reading books, watching films, picking fruit and lots of other things ☺. To be honest, I still didn't manage to do everything that was on my list to do! 

Last week, an ex-student asked me what teachers actually do during the preparation week, before the students return next week. Well, it is basically that - we prepare. As for myself, I prepare myself mentally - even a teacher can feel rusty after 2 months off! - and I prepare myself practically. Now that I know my new timetable (the 1st thing every teacher wants to know when they come back, as well as when the next holidays are! :)), I can get my class lists together & begin to think about the first lessons. I love to get the ball rolling - I much prefer to teach than to be stuck in my 'kabinet' doing paperwork. 

I'm also preparing for another excellent year with I.S.L.I, which begins with a planning meeting in Wurzburg in 2 weeks, and also for English Club at SGO. But there are a lot of other things that I'm hoping to do, outside of work, this coming school year...and I'll tell you about one tomorrow :) 

All in all, I believe this is going to be another great year, and I sincerely look forward to working with some very intelligent young people, and seeing them grow in their use (& love!) of English! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Maturita funnies 2017 - Part 2

And so to the 2nd installment of this year's Maturita funnies:
Canada & Australia is always a good source for amusing misinformation:
‘’Kiwis live in Australia.’ - Well, can YOU spot the Kiwi?? :)
On describing a scene from a Shakespearean classic:
"Juliet was speaking from the balcony & didn't know that she (Romeo!) was there in the bushes below..."

No mistake here, but still an amusing insight :-)
"I was born in a house in Prostejov which later became an old people's home, and I will probably end up there!" just can't find the right word, can you?
"The river is very shadow." - Seems like the vocabulary was a little bit shallow :-) 
Oh those tenses!!
"I have choosen..."

History is frequently changed during these exams...
"The world Vietnam war..." - I don't remember it being so broad!

Another case of a bad word choice :-)
"There is a problem in the environment with exhale fumes..."

And the winner of the Master of the Obvious award!! - "The melting ice caps are...melting."

And the award for the most orignal pronunciation:
"MAPPEL SIGHRUP" = maple syrup

And a return for the classic: "There are beers in Canada."

And part of a conversation in a role play: "I would like to book a table in your reservation."

And finally, the last exam brought this gem: "Scotland is the most beautiful part of England."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Maturita funnies 2017 - Part 1

I was really disappointed during the last two years, when I couldn't assist my colleagues with the English Maturita (as I had to survive my own!). Of course, I really enjoying listening to some of the excellent talks given by the students, but these exams are also a goldmine for some amusing English gems. Here is the first part of this year's selection. I hope you enjoy them, and you might recognise yourself among them. (Don't worry, the owners of these statements remain anonymous :) )

Sometimes, festivals get mixed up: "St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Scotland." 
And even names! "There is the famous sportsman – David Beckingham."

Grammar truly does save lives...or some of my students are cannibals! - Me and my Mom cook. Sometimes I cook, sometimes cook her.’

‘Old people go to a nursery home.’ Perhaps they were confused with Benjamin Button?

The Scottish came in for some real punishment in these exams! 'The Scottish have their own language - Scottish Garlic."
And on the subject of health - ‘’If you get a cold you can have a rainy nose.’’
No matter how many times I warn my students, this old favourite still makes an appearance :-) - “In London is the eye of London."

And we also learnt thatTower bridge breaks in the middle.’
And some students have an interesting diet: We have two courses for Christmas dinner – the first is soap’

And, for today, last but not least - "Shakespeare was a screenwriter." 

Monday, May 29, 2017

English Maturita - Just the facts...

Before I relate any stories from this year's Maturita, I thought it would be good to share some of the facts about the results for the English Maturita exams. The following information includes the results for both the state & the school oral exams.

I'm not one to normally make a big deal about statistics - I am quite hopeless at Maths. But during the last 2 weeks while my colleagues & I have been examining students in English, some things have become very clear.

From my perspective, as a native speaker, these results are easily the best I have ever been involved in during my time at S.G.O! Over the years, I have worked with some exceptional students & classes, but collectively, this has been the most impressive. 

Before making some comments, I wish to stress that (in my opinion) my colleagues & myself were very firm & fair about the marks we gave. Whatever mark a student got, I believe they honestly deserved it - there were NO easy 1's, for example. There were some borderline cases, as there always are, but our consensus was always clear in the end.

I find it amazing that only 1 student got a worse mark than a 3! (Sadly, a fail...) I really don't think that has ever been the case before...

However, I must give a very special mention to 8A8 - collectively, this was a very strong class (& it must be noted that the score of 1's could have been higher, but some students had slightly worse marks than they would normally get, perhaps due to the choice of topics?) - it truly has been a pleasure to work with such a strong class. I taught them 4 years ago, and it's been a real thrill & joy to see their English develop over the years. Well done, all of you! 

And why are the results so good this year? Do we have better students? Are the teachers doing a good job? Is the use of English becoming more common in a student's life these days? Perhaps it's a mixture of all of them - but one thing is for sure, it's a great reward after a solid year of teaching. 

Teacher SGO

Teacher SGO