I teach 23 times per week at the moment. This is not the busiest time for me. It’s also not the calmest time.
I teach four languages. Some classes I have to teach in Slovak. When my students are Slovak and they are just starting to learn the basics it’s better to explain things in Slovak.
All my students are different. They have different expectations, different backgrounds, widely different goals, interests, hobbies…
Some learn German so they can go and shop for clothes in Austria. Some want to read complicated novels and books on the economy or psychology.
One of my students is a lawyer. He’s been my student for three years. We read books together and he wants to know EVERY word on every page. We have almost plowed through The Reader. Quite a challenge. Some of my others students had a go at it too, but they gave up after one or two chapters. I don’t blame them. It’s hard. Next on our reading list is Winter in war time. Quite a bit easier than The Reader.
I have students who somehow manage to become fluent in Dutch after a mere six months of lessons. Sometimes I forget they are not native speakers.
What I love most is to work with students who want to KNOW stuff. A lot of stuff. Not just the language. I have also noticed that people who want to learn a language for some practical reasons never learn the language at all. They don’t even attain that small practical goal they set for themselves.
My only horror are students who do not care about the world, about human existence, history, psychology, anything like that. They have amputated human existence and limited it to the basest, most superficial daily interactions. If it doesn’t affect them directly they couldn’t care less. Luckily I almost never have to deal with students like that. I have very little patience with people like that. Aude sapere! Dare to know!
Slovak students tend to be extremely scared of making a mistake. They also tend to focus on grammar and rules more. This is a generalization of course. They are not all like that. The more a student wants to work on grammar the less likely it is that student will ever use the language outside of the classroom.
You can’t ride a bike while at the same time constantly trying to figure out the mechanics behind the movement of the bike. Your mind and body will freeze. The same with grammar focussed students. Not to say that grammar isn’t important, but it should never be your most important concern when starting to learn a language.
Lots of my students are lively, eager to learn, have broad interests and passions, an amazing sense of humor and tend to be open-minded, or at the very least pretty tolerant.
I have students whose lives are built around their faith, their Church, their religious community. I think some of my readers will find it hard to imagine just how central religion is to the lives of some of my students. Usually I refrain from challenging them too much, because this religious devotion is simply too deeply ingrained in their soul. Yes, it’s like a drug, yes, all organized religion is deeply flawed and rife with hypocrisy and non-sensical dogmas, but it does do the trick for them. They have a compass in life. According to me it mostly limits them, but they embrace those fairly random limitations as an antidote to sensory overwhelm, a shield against a world that would otherwise present them with too many choices. I get it. It’s not my way, but I see how it kinda works for them. The price they pay for this religious drug is a dominant feeling of never being devout enough, of having to worry about insane stuff like ‘if the priest gave them the homily in the correct way.’ Imagine using your 70 odd years on this planet to worry about that. Anyway, we should all find our poison and let it kill us.
Along the way I get to see lots of companies and work environments. Without actually being an employee there. There is not one company I would want to work at. However, I do enjoy listening to the concerns, experiences, work related problems, etc of my students. I know more about the elevator business than I ever thought I would.
In all my years of teaching adults I have only once met a rude, disrespectful, angry student. Only twice have I had to deal with cowards and sneaky snakes. I sincerely hope this number will never grow.
The vast majority of my students are very decent people with lots of empathy, respect, modesty and a genuine concern for the well being of all people on this planet.
I try to make my lessons as entertaining as possible. So we
- we use card games such as Timeline. If you’re interested I can explain how it works. See picture below. I have four different versions. It’s fun and it gives you plenty of material to talk about.
- we use a version of the game UNO, but all the cards come with grammar exercises
- of course we use music, movies, articles and books
- I have compiled a list with over 1,500 questions so we never run out of stuff to talk about
- I have hundreds of quiz questions. This list keeps expanding every week
- We play many boardgames. You know why? When students hear a new word during a game they are five times more likely to remember it than in a different setting
- On the whole I always try to base the lesson on what the student enjoys. Some are open to anything at all, some are much more specific, but whatever, I honestly make a big effort to make sure every student finds the lesson entertaining. Only during group lessons it may happen that not everyone is having fun at all times. Sometimes you have groups with students with very different hobbies or learning styles. In that case you have to compromise.
It would take a much longer article to describe all my classes. They are all very different and personalized.
Most of my students I would still want to work with if tomorrow I woke up as a billionaire. I would just buy my own school right smack dab in the middle of Bratislava equipped with all the latest technology where students would be able to be truly fully immersed in the language of their choice.
I charge 30 euro per hour. I almost never teach 60 minutes, I almost teach my students quite a bit longer. Unless circumstances such as my or their schedule dictate otherwise. For 30 euro they get the certainty they will actually learn a lot. Along the way many of them get something quite close to free psychotherapy on top of the language course.
What I guarantee is that during a lesson I am fully available for my students. I make no secret of my own personal preferences, passions or philosophy when it comes to learning a language, but at the same time I surprise myself with how flexible and patient I can be. In some rare cases I have to teach classes that are simply rather boring to me, but when I see that the students make progress I don’t mind.
When students are friendly and willing to learn I will do truly all I can to help them.
Perhaps the best proof of this is that during the corona crisis the number of students I teach has increased.
Most of my students find me through word of mouth.
If you have questions drop me a line via firstname.lastname@example.org or via whatsapp +421 915 24 12
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