Adult Education Centre in Ormož (Slovenia) is involved in Erasmus +, KA1 project entitled as "I Want More!". Within the framework of the project, which is aimed primarily at raising the competencies of our employees, we planned three mobilities. In this blog post you can read about our job shadowing activity in Skopje.
Teaching is one of the most rewarding, but also demanding jobs. On one hand, you have participants, who want to learn something new and put some effort into achieving this. On the other hand, you are always wondering whether your lessons, study materials, teaching methods are good enough and suitable for the participants.
It is a great challenge for me to prepare lessons for English courses for adults. I do not want my students to learn by heart some grammar rules and structures. I want to make learning empirical and practical as possible. For this reason, I tend to collect new ideas on how to make classes attractive, interesting, practical and suitable for adults.
Different students’ books, manuals and, of course, Google are very good in offering activities, listening exercises, videos or work sheets that can be used in classes. However, what I lack is a conversation with other English teachers. Observing other teachers’ teaching methods, discussing what is appropriate for adults and comparing my teaching methods with others is priceless.
During the I want more! project, I attended a job shadowing in Skopje. I went there in the first week of April and based on the records of their National Agency I was the first person to come to job shadowing in adult education sector to Macedonia. Maybe you are wondering why. Why Skopje? What can it offer? What have you learnt there?
The answers are simple, but at the same time very complex. It is with difficulty that I put into words my experiences and thoughts about this mobility.
So, why Skopje? Two years ago, I met Jasmina Ivanovska from Centre for Foreign Languages Skopje at the contact seminar in Zagreb. Even when reading the description of her institution in the seminar compendium, and then listened to her presentation, I realized that we have some common points. I was drawn to them and I wanted to go there for a job shadowing. She agreed and that is how it happened. What did I expect? A chance to observe other teachers at work, the possibility of debate with other English teachers, the comparison of our teaching methods and study materials. And that is what I got.
Centre for Foreign Languages Skopje is one of the largest language schools in Skopje and it will celebrate its 65 anniversary this year. They have approximately 2000 students per year and 20 full-time employed teachers. The students mostly learn English and German, but lately Slovene has become quite popular, especially among young people who want to study in Slovenia. They teach children and adults and have different language levels (A1 to C1). They cooperate with the Faculty of Philology and offering classroom observations. They cooperate with other teaching professionals through seminars and workshops with the help of English language teaching association of Macedonia, the British Council, the American embassy, non-government organization and similar. They implement some Erasmus+ KA1 project, but they also want to work in KA2 projects. They are a reliable project partner; they accepted me, shared their experiences and knowledge and did all the foreseen activities.
They are a language school, which means that the participants come after their school, work or family obligations. Therefore their classes begin in the late afternoon, after 5pm, and last till 10 pm. I am not a night owl, so the first two days were a bit rough on my, but I soon got used to the late classes. Nevertheless, I am sure that the participants, who have already attended their regular schools or worked in the morning, have a difficult time to stay alert and cooperate during the lessons. Also for the teachers, it is more demanding to be rested and full of energy late in the afternoon to conduct interesting and active lessons. As Jasmina said, the need to save some energy to stay focused and prepared for the lessons. The lessons run form Monday to Thursday, and on Fridays the have staff meetings and conferences.
Due to their size and work, they were able to offer me a lot of new knowledge. I had the opportunity to learn more about their work, to observe teachers during lessons and discuss with them about different teaching methods. I mostly observed English lessons of five different teacher and of five different levels. I also attended a beginner course of Macedonian to revise my knowledge of Cyrillic’s. As a native speaker, I was present at the Slovene courses, which was a unique experience. During the lessons, I was sometimes included in the discussion with the participants, who had to have a conversation with me in English. They enjoyed that possibility a lot since it forced them to step out of their comfort zone and practically use their knowledge of English.
So, what have I learnt on this job shadowing? While observing the teachers I got new ideas for revising grammar and vocabulary in class. I found out that most teachers consistently correct students’ mistakes in oral exercises. I prefer not to do that since I believe that students sometimes need to speak freely and gain self-confidence in their speaking skills. I gained a new insight and new beliefs about little things that make lessons efficient. However, of utmost importance was the possibility to speak in English and practice my speaking skills.
Personally, I had to learn at least the basics of Cyrillic’s in order to read street names and to get around the city. I gained more confidence since I was dependent on myself to get around this big city. Skopje is an interesting mixture of present and past and their different multicultural background.
You are welcome to read about our previous project activities within "I Want More!" project:
Hočem več! ali iskanje novih idej in znanja v tujini (I want more! or finding new ideas and knowledge abroad), available in Slovene and English.
Usposabljanje na delovnem mestu v Reki, available in Slovene.
Ana Janžekovič works as an adult education organizer in Adult Education Centre in Ormož, Slovenia. She is responsible for writing and implementing projects, and she also has English language courses for adults. She has been involved in adult education for the past three years. Previously she worked as an English teacher at a primary school.