If you ask Czech students to talk about their own country, they won’t normally jump in excitement. One of the reasons is that students are convinced that it’s not important to talk/learn about the things (they think) they already know. Also, Czechs often see their native land as totally boring; they tend to show negative attitudes towards Czech culture, politics, and people and their lifestyle in general. However, I believe that being able to talk about one’s country unbiasedly is one of the essential skills a language learner should acquire because, after all, one usually uses English to talk about their country with foreigners (i.e. potential visitors, customers, investors, etc.). So, for one, it’s bad publicity if you defame your country (no matter what Oscar Wild declared about bad publicity). Also, and more importantly, when you only focus on the negative, you’ll inevitably end up out of ideas very soon (not good for a potential examinee, right?).
I should stress that this post was inspired by the following bit from another post:
A final podcast recommendation is a site that is not very active at the moment, but has great potential, Bomb English. This site is two (very well-educated) foreigners living in Korea. They are both fluent in Korean and Korean culture, but they are native speakers of English. They offer a perspective on Korea that might surprise you.
For some reason, when reading Mike’s post, specifically the red bit above, I suddenly remembered a YouTube channel called Geography Now, which my students love watching as an addition to the materials they are required to study when preparing for their final state exam in English.
On this channel, they cover lots of countries, but in the lessons, we usually focus on the English speaking ones. However, they recently included the Czech Republic too. As the Czech Republic is one of the final exam topics, we decided to check it out as well. And it was a huge success. I myself found this video much more engaging than the ones about all the foreign countries. Why?
Well, probably because I was on the lookout for the things/places/facts I
- already knew
- didn’t know (and was surprised by)
- had forgotten and remembered again
- could agree with
- wanted/had to disagree with.
But most importantly, I was curious about the way foreigners present the Czech Republic and particularly, and this is the funniest part, how the native English speakers pronounce all the difficult Czech names (spoiler: they did really well!).
This, obviously, inspired a lot of interesting discussions in class and opened new horizons for many students, myself included.
Well, there are always perspectives that may surprise you…