It’s been a long day today as I found myself running between the Czech examination room (an important day for my Czech students), the Office English course and marking, so I’ll try to keep this short.
The idea for today’s module came from one of the students, who said he often needed to explain the different types of employment contracts to the foreign staff at our department. I also wanted to focus on our uni structure and who is who at the university, and decided to put all these topics together into one vocabulary-based and speaking lesson.
I had started by doing some research into types of contracts because this is an area I had never taught in the past. I asked at our discussion group Czechlist for some ideas and names of the most common fixed-term contracts (CZ: DPP, DPČ). If you haven’t heard about Czechlist, a most helpful discussion groups which always gives you the answers you need, please read this post. Unsurprisingly, it turned out the Czech employment contract lingo is different to the English one, but I got some very useful links and useful ideas how to translate the names of the contracts. All this, together with other prep, amounted to a 4-hour lesson planning time; divided by three people present…well let’s not go into this but I do hope this lesson does get reused in the future.
At the start, I asked the students to quickly talk about their work responsibilities, which part of the uni they work for and what type of contract they have.
The next task involved reading the descriptions of the full-time/part time contract, the fixed-term contract and the zero-hour contract from this site: https://www.gov.uk/contract-types-and-employer-responsibilities), matching the descriptions to the contract names and clarifying vocabulary (EN-CZ).
After that we looked at a legal vocabulary wordlist for the most common terms that can be found in contracts – Czechlisters had directed me to this great student thesis: https://theses.cz/id/26syca/BP_Anna_Jasensk_2017.pdf
Again, we clarified the vocabulary and its Czech translation and spoke about some of the differences between the two languages. I was very grateful I can speak both languages, actually. Then, I asked to students to translate orally from Czech to English short internet descriptions of the DPP and DPČ contracts. This was much more exciting than it sounds and some fascinating translation issues (word order, etc.) were brought up. At this stage, the lesson would not have passed on a TEFL course, but I had everyone engaged. I had spent two years of my life as a full-time CZ-EN translator and this activity was right up my street. You see, when you are Czech and work in an office you end up translating bits and pieces all the time, so CZ-EN translation is a very useful skill. Naturally, the idea here was to convey the meaning of the text in speaking; not to provide a bulletproof legal translation.
In the next part of the lesson, we looked at our university structure. To prepare, I had put all the uni bodies (faculties, institutes, etc.) on cards and deleted the key words from their names. I’d used the EN translation of the uni website. The students, all familiar with the structure in Czech, found it hard to work out the English names of the bodies, so it was a challenging, but a very useful exercise. We also played with the cards to arrange them in the correct structure, but this was easy.
Finally, I had made a list of the management of the university, and asked the students to add the roles of the people (rector, dean, vice-___, registrar, etc.) We also spoke about the responsibilities of these people, how they are appointed, etc. Eventually, we recapped by providing an oral overview of the university.
The self-assessment was simply to tick boxes of how confident the students felt about the lesson’s task, followed by oral feedback. It turned out it had been a useful lesson for everybody, which made me feel happy and excited to continue. Because honestly, it isn’t the most exciting of topics, and it isn’t easy to present students with many words in one go and hope they will remember. So I’m hoping the tasks I chose were challenging and intriguing.
Next time we’re doing writing again and I’d like to focus on editing, translating and some tech tools that can help you edit your own writing in English. As usual, if you have any tips you’d like to share here, leave me a comment. I’ll really appreciate it.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Ciao!