Letter to the Editor: US and Slovakia teach English language differently

Dear Sir,

While I have tried to learn Slovak during the past seven years, through reading and conversation, I continue to admire many of my Slovak colleagues who have learned English at a much higher level after the same seven years. And I admire the multi-linguality of many of these folks who are also learning other languages at the same time.

If there is an area where improvement can be made in the teaching of English, it may be found in an interesting remark made by a Slovak acquaintance of mine last week.

My acquaintance told me that he had worked for two years in Washington DC. His teenage daughter graduated from a very good high school during those two years. He felt that she had done quite well in her English classes, considering that it was her second language. Her English classes included creative writing, journalism and English for theatre where she had to do technical writing and script for theatre and television.

It was hard, he said, and she loved it. But when she returned to Košice to start her first year in university, she received very poor marks in, guess what? English. It seemed that the American school had either already covered the technical aspects of the English language or ignored them, and had devoted itself to the use of the language in various contexts. Back home, she has found that her classes were still studying the English language, but that there weren't many opportunities to do interesting things with the language.

Bill Baker
Košice

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