Student Notes

One of the fun things that almost everyone brings up but you never think of until you get over here is that the students don’t speak English. At least not fluently and certainly not confidently. To be fair I have to say the majority of my students can handle simple conversations and understand most of what I tell/teach them. However I have a few classes that quite literally know almost nothing. They speak to me in Czech without a second thought and have trouble reading short sentences in English properly. A fun challenge to say the least.

Another fun thing that Czech schools do is they substitute in-house. That means if a teacher is ill or absent they will just throw that teacher’s students into another teacher’s classroom. I would say this has happened about once every week or so on average here. Now if I spoke Czech this would be simply a mild annoyance of having an extra 10-15 kids in the classroom. But I don’t. And the students who get put in my class usually only take German, not English. Do you see where I’m going with this?

A funny side effect of this is students invariably have to go to the bathroom during class (heaven forbid they go in the 10 minutes before or after class…) But of course my German sub students have no clue how to ask this in English. One daring students however asked his english classmates for help and gave me this note a month ago,


I looked quizzically at this note for a second before I figured it out and students told me what he wanted. You, dear reader are probably confused. Let me break this down for you.

Kan=Can. “C” is very different in Czech. Whenever they have a hard “C” sound they put a “K” instead. For example California=Kalifornia. The English student probably told him “can” and he thought quite logically “kan.”

AJ=I. Czech is phonetic so every letter has the same pronunciation. “J” is always pronounced like “Y” in English. So when this student heard “I” again he logically produced “AJ.”

GOU=Go. Simple Mistake.

TU=To. Again simple mistake.

FARMA=?? Not a clue what he was going for here but perhaps it’s close to the German word for toilet? I kind of doubt it though.

The moral of the story is I often have to do as much thinking and deciphering as my students do when we are in the classroom. Oh, and I let him go to the bathroom.


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