This exercise is linked to the topic Slovakia my Homeland.
Opener: Instruct students to brainstorm a list of words or topics that come to mind when they think of Slovakia (customs, holidays, landmarks, etc.), and to write them down. Play the national anthem while they brainstorm, available on YouTube. (2-5 minutes)
1) Speaking: Put the students into pairs to discuss what they wrote down with their partner, explaining their answers. If they have any of the same answers, have them discuss why they wrote down that answer, seeing if they can think of different reasons. Call on a few pairs and write some of their answers on the board. (5 minutes)
2) Reading: Pass out the Spectator College article, calling on different students to read. Instruct them to circle words they are unsure of as they read. After they’re finished reading the article, point them to the vocabulary list and see if any of the words are ones they’ve already circled. Read some of those definitions out loud, and call on a few students to use different words in sentences. (20-25 minutes)
3) Listening and writing: Read some of the sentences from the Spectator College article out loud, giving students a couple minutes after to jot down a few notes about each sentence. Then, after you’ve read five-10 sentences, instruct them to write a short paragraph on each sentence, expressing their knowledge on/reaction to each statement. (15-20 minutes)
Possible sentences to use from the article:
• The country, which has come a long way since the time it was described as the “black hole of Europe” in the early years of its existence, to being dubbed the “Tatra Tiger” after undergoing economic reforms in the late 90s and at the beginning of the new century, celebrated the 20th anniversary of its establishment on January 1, 2013.
• The split of the ČSFR is often referred to as “the velvet divorce”, since it was carried out by constitutional agreements without any violence, unlike in former Yugoslavia.
• However, twenty years after the dissolution the split of the federation stemming from a political agreement in the absence of any referendum is viewed critically by 70 percent of Slovaks and Czechs, a similar figure to that seen in 1992, according to a survey called “Twenty years after the split of the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (ČSFR) and the founding of Slovakia and the Czech Republic”, carried out by the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) think tank in cooperation with the polling agency Focus and the Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM) at the Czech Academy of Science, in November 2012.
• During the very first day of its existence the Slovak Republic was recognised by 93 states, among them the USA, Russia, China, the UK, Germany and France.
• Nevertheless, the road to NATO and the EU took much longer and proved quite rockier.
• On October 1, 1998, the European Union said that the parliamentary elections in Slovakia, in which the country’s three-time prime minister Mečiar and his government (widely viewed as having pushed Slovakia to the verge of international isolation) was ousted from power, was a positive turn in Slovakia’s efforts to join the EU.
• While the number of Slovaks who are proud of their country is growing, it does not exceed the number of those who expressed pride back in 2008, according to an IVO poll conducted in cooperation with Focus between November 7 and 13, 2012.
• Sociologist Zora Bútorová has said that the performance of Slovak athletes, especially the ice hockey team at the world championship, served to boost feelings of pride.
Homework: If students do not finish the writing exercise in class, instruct them to complete it for homework.
This exercise is published as part of Spectator College, a programme created by The Slovak Spectator with the support of Sugarbooks, a distributor of foreign language books. The author works at the Evanjelické lýceum in Bratislava as an English-language instructor.