This past week I have been in the Czech Republic in a town called Teplice, which is about 15 minutes from the border of Germany in the north, near Dresden. I’ve been here because I have family living in this town and it is where my mother was born. My cousin Renata teaches at the local high school, and while I was staying I was invited to teach English to years 7, 8 and 9 and I also took a whole school assembly on Australia and Australian culture. I had the resident English teacher as my translator for school assembly, because while the children understand English, as it is a subject they take, we felt it was better if we had my talk translated as well. I had a wonderful time: we did a Vegemite tasting, we had a little raffle for some toy koalas and a kangaroo and we tasted some Australian chocolate (Cherry Ripes to be exact for the Aussies reading this).
For the actual classes I did not use a translator, but we managed just fine. They were all really keen and we had a of fun practising pronunciation and doing some Aussie Strine. Teachers are not particularly well paid in Czech Republic and at this high school (which incidentally is located at the foot of the orginal grounds of an old castle, which still stands looking over the school), there was only one male teacher.
Children attend school from 8am until 1.30pm and then have a hot lunch afterwards. As well, the children are expected to take off their shoes on entering the school and put on house-shoes, which I found unusual, though it is the custom to do so in private houses. Everybody was very welcoming and I had a wonderful time, a great experience which has made me think about what it would be like to teach children instead of working in adult education.