I have rarely read such disjointed rubbish as the letter titled 'Raise the level of English teachers' published in the last issue of the Spectator. The whole piece would be comical if its basic intention was not so malicious.
In what is a clear attempt to discredit Prešov University and its English teachers, the author (he signs off as 'Ian Robson' but this is the last of several fictions in the letter) goes from one focus of attack to another but hardly makes a meaningful point.
At first it seems he wants to criticize native speakers teaching here. However, in decrying the standard of lectures, he ignores the fact that over 90 % of them are given by Slovaks. He then implies that the students here are so weak (a result of the "appallingly low" level of native-speaker teaching) that he has "had to correct" their English. Aside from the dogmatism of this remark, does he imagine a foreign speaker of English has ever existed who does not need some sort of correction?
In his fourth paragraph, he suggests two measures which could improve the situation, the second of which is "a wholesale clearing-out of all current university lecturers". By "all" he presumably means "all". So again we native speakers are partly let off the hook, if only temporarily.
For in his last and most nonsensical paragraph, he says he has "reported back to the Education Standards Officer in the UK" to inform them of the situation. Does he mean the Chief Inspector of Schools because the post stated above does not exist, at least not to my knowledge? And can he seriously believe a British inspector of schools could have any interest in how English is taught in Slovakia?
As a native speaker and teacher here, I clearly have a vested interest in defending the reputation of the university. This I do now by saying we in our faculty are a relatively young staff, open to new ideas and proud of the quality of student we produce. Last week's letter was an attempt to negate all this and our name will surely have suffered. But on behalf of all the teachers here, I kindly ask readers not to let one man's private resentment affect their opinion of English teaching in Prešov and Slovakia as a whole.
Department of English Language and Literature
Faculty of Humanities and Natural Sciences
8. Feb 1999 at 0:00