“Ahoj, María, ako sa máš?”
A group of about 20 people, apparently way over high school age, sits in a high school classroom. María is doing well. She says that in Slovak. This is how the Slovak for foreigners lesson begins.
The teacher then asks another student: “Anthony, ako sa volá americký prezident? Zabudol som.” (Anthony, what’s the name of American president? I forgot.) The class bursts into laughter and the teacher goes on asking more similar questions.
For some foreigners living in the Slovak capital this is a way of spending their evenings – learning to speak Slovak. In bigger cities, such as Bratislava or Košice, it is easy to find a Slovak for foreigners course. This course is special, though. It is organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Slovakia.
“We do not require any registration or admission tests,” explains Marek Chomanič from IOM for The Slovak Spectator. The lessons are free of charge, however, open only to non-EU citizens who hold permanent, temporary or tolerated residence permit in Slovakia.
Who are the students?
Groups are divided into those who speak a Slavic language and others. The course is suitable for all age categories so the class contains young students, middle-aged people, even a married couple and a retired lady. Nations also vary. Today’s lecture contains foreigners from Iran, Egypt, Mexico, USA, India and Japan.