Saturday, May 27, 2006

Banging heads (the teachers', not the students')

Today, one of my students, Thanasis is taking his oral exam for the ECCE. Basically, this is a ten-minute interview during which his spoken English is assessed. In a sense it’s like preparing the whole year for a 100m dash, since it will be over so quickly that he won’t know where the time went. I have no worries about Thanasis as he is a confident, intelligent teenager, full of ideas. We’ve practiced the exam format several times and I don’t think he’ll have any problems.

However, a strange thought entered my mind as I was waiting for him to show up; nobody here is speaking English. Not the kids, not the teachers with them, not even the school owners (who use this whole event as a public relations exercise.)

Instead they are expecting the students to suddenly go from speaking Greek to speaking as well as they can in English. Imagine asking an athlete in the biggest race of his career so far to perform at his or her best without any kind of warm -up!

Imagine what you’d say about a coach, who in the last hour before his sprinter's big race, does nothing but chat about what was on TV last night or what he had for dinner.

I see the owners, who have made thousands and thosands of euros out of these kids and their parents idly stand by and let them go into the interview unprepared. They still can’t even fathom something as basic as getting your kids to do something in the language they are going to be examined in BEFORE they enter exam!!!

Good news though, Thanasis came out of the test happy and confident about his performance. So, all we have to do know is keep our fingers crossed until the results come out.

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