This module had two main aims – firstly, to help students learn how to edit their own written texts, and secondly, to try a bit of Czech to English translation.
Over the Office English course, I have collected quite a few written assignments submitted by the students and decided to run a lesson on editing. First of all, we discussed our favourite methods of editing. The students mentioned setting the text aside after it has been written for a day or two, although they also pointed out jokingly that because they’re so busy, it is easy to forget about the text and mark the task as done on their to-do list, without actually sending it.
Another strategy was to ask someone else to read it – commonly the teachers from the English department. Funnily, the student said, it always seems to take at least fifteen minutes to reach a consensus among five people for one simple sentence. I told them that our discussions on Facebook can have up to a hundred of comments about simple issues, too.
So this discussion provided a nice start to the lesson because everyone had already had some experience with editing their work. We then looked at types of mistakes (I simplified the list a little) to look at when editing one’s work: grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure. The students identified the type of mistake in five sentences that I had made up and corrected the mistakes.
The next task was more realistic as I had made some interesting choices. When preparing for the lesson, I pondered giving them the full submitted assignments with highlighted areas and asking the students to correct the mistake. In the end, I decided to simplify the process and for each of the type of mistake, I found several examples in their own writing. Naturally, the sentences were a lot more complex than in the made-up examples, but because they knew what type of mistake was involved, it wasn’t too difficult. Students worked individually and then in pairs before we checked in the whole class and talked about some possible options. Among the mistakes was incorrect word order: O-S-V – as in: “The documents we will send to you”; which is a very typical error resulting from the fact that in Czech, the object can be in the initial position because it gets declined and thus is easily identified as an object. Czech learners need to be constantly reminded of this. Another type of mistake is comma splice, which isn’t regarded as a mistake in Czech, so again, not easy to spot. And finally articles, because we don’t have them, so they are a constant source of frustration for everyone.
In the second part of the lesson we focused on translation. I actually didn’t do much here as the students had to do all the work. My role was to prepare the texts, which was not easy. It took me a while to find a Czech website with a good English version. Eventually, I asked my former co-worker, a translator, for help, and he suggested using the Prague ZOO website. This turned out to be a perfect solution and I found two articles – a longer one which I laid out in two columns and deleted parts of the English. The students then had to suggest ways of translating the missing parts. Have a go yourselves:
Dnes odpoledne se v Zoo Praha uskutečnil seminář k problematice ilegálního lovu tažných ptáků ve Středomoří, a to zejména v některých zemích EU. Spolu s dalšími hosty se jej zúčastnil poslanec Evropského parlamentu a místopředseda Výboru pro životní prostředí EP RNDr. Pavel Poc.
Středomoří – včetně zemí EU, jako jsou Itálie nebo Řecko – zůstává pro tažné ptáky smrtící zónou. Podle šetření, jehož výsledky zveřejnila v roce 2015 organizace Birdlife International, je tam každoročně zabito 25 000 000 volně žijících ptáků, z velké části nelegálně. Z těchto 25 000 000 ptáků, z nichž většina by hnízdila na evropském kontinentu a tedy i u nás, je 20 200 000 pěvců, dále přibližně 1 800 000 vodních ptáků, 700 000 holubů a hrdliček a 100 000 dravců.
„Jedním z důležitých úkolů zoologických zahrad je ochrana biodiverzity,“ uvedl ředitel Zoo Praha Miroslav Bobek. „Ve jménu ochrany ohrožených druhů vyzýváme obyvatele vzdálených zemí, aby nekáceli lesy a nelovili zvířata, a tím spíš nemůžeme přehlížet, že přímo uvnitř Evropské unie dochází k bezprecedentním masakrům tažných ptáků. Zcela bychom ztratili důvěryhodnost.“
Dnešní seminář navázal na iniciativu Zoo Praha, jejíž ředitel Miroslav Bobek vyzval české europoslance, aby ve věci nelegálního lovu ptáků začali jednat. Na tuto výzvu zareagovalo několik europoslanců, zejména RNDr. Pavel Poc, který v této věci interpeloval Evropskou komisi a po neuspokojivé odpovědi následně na jednání Výboru pro ochranu přírody EP i komisaře pro životní prostředí Karmenu Vellu.
Zoo Praha rovněž vyzvala Evropskou asociaci zoologických zahrad a akvárií (EAZA), aby se k této aktivitě iniciativě připojila.
This afternoon, a seminar was held at Prague Zoo _________________ the illegal hunting of migratory birds in the Mediterranean, particularly with regards to certain EU countries. Among the guests that took part were RNDr. Pavel Poc, __________________________________
The Mediterranean – including the EU countries, such as Italy and Greece – remains __________ for migratory birds. According to a survey ___________ by Birdlife International, 25,000,000 wild birds are killed here annually, mostly illegally. Of these 25 million birds, most of which would nest on the European continent, and thus in our country too, there are 20,200,000 songbirds, more than 1,800,000 water fowl, 700,000 pigeons and doves, and 100,000 birds of prey.
“One of the important tasks of zoos is to protect biodiversity,” ____________________________
____________________. “In the name of protecting endangered species, ____________ ____________________not to cut down their forests and not to hunt their animals, so if we overlook the fact that there is an unprecedented massacre of migratory birds right here inside the European Union, we will lose all credibility.”
Today’s seminar ties in with Prague Zoo’s initiative, when its director Miroslav Bobek called on Czech MEPs to __________ illegal bird hunting. Several MEPs _________________, in particular RNDr. Pavel Poc, who lobbied the European Commission in this matter. Following an unsatisfactory response, he subsequently went on to address the EP’s Nature Conservation Committee and Karmenu Vella the EU’s Environment Commissioner.
Prague Zoo likewise invited the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) ______________________________
I mostly focused on vocabulary of universal interest, such as the names of people’s roles, etc; and not on the zoological vocabulary.
Finally, in the last task, I asked the students to try translating this short text on their own:
Ředitel Zoo Praha Miroslav Bobek a státní tajemník Tsengel Tsegmid dnes podepsali memorandum o ochraně ohrožených druhů živočichů v Mongolsku. Aktivity Zoo Praha, které se v Mongolsku dosud soustřeďovaly na návrat a ochranu koně Převalského, se i díky tomuto memorandu rozšíří také na další kopytníky.
Podpis Memoranda proběhl u příležitosti návštěvy delegace z Mongolska na Ministerstvu průmyslu a obchodu ČR.
And the English version is here, although I didn’t hand it out till after the class: https://www.zoopraha.cz/en/about-zoo/news/11185-prague-zoo-signed-a-memorandum-of-cooperation-with-the-ministry-of-environment-of-mongolia
I let the students work on their own and use whatever tools they needed, but not the Google Translator. We then talked about the different suggestions and compared them with the original, and it was the end of the lesson.
My feeling from it is a bit mixed. It was a great and an engaging class. However, it was just that one lesson. For someone to really improve their writing, they really have to start writing, translating and editing their work on a daily basis. A single lesson may help a little, but it won’t result in much improvement. Nevertheless, I am a positive person and think that doing at least a little is better than doing nothing, and the fact that the students know they successfully wrote an email, a report, and translated a text, can be a good confidence boost.
Next week’s class is cancelled, so I’ll be back with the series on May 23. Thanks for reading!