Language Advising by Kamil Patrick Ivan

This issue focuses on help and cooperation. An individual may help distant refugees escaping their country to come to a strange land. That is all well and good, and please keep doing so, but do not forget we may help each other as well.

Our Department runs an elective course called Language Advising, taught by Světlana Hanušová and Tomáš Andrášik. The course is offered to students of the Department of English Language and Literature and to students of Primary Teacher Education (PTE). But wait… Primary teachers? Really?

Students of English language help their PTE colleagues to improve their English so that they can pass their B2 level exam. It is vital to say we do not teach, we advise. We encourage others to discover their learning style, give handy tips for faster responses, show websites where grammar can be practised; in short, we help othersacquire the language.

There are two meetings in the semester, each of which takes six hours. The lecturers explain how learner autonomy works, what is vital and what should be avoided. Advisors learn to use materials for setting goals, identify learning styles, try different approaches to advisees in the very first seminar, and we also reflect on our own learning. Advisors are also encouraged to empathise with their learners so that they can see how important learning is. They are told that even though their English may be superior to the advisee’s, they should not feel superior to them.

Between the two sessions, there are regular meetings with the advisee, usually once a week. It is the advisee who brings the problem to be solved. It may be How can I learn so many words? or even something even deeper, such as I cannot speak English as fast as I’d like. In both cases, it is important to find out as much as you can and prompt the advisee on what they can do. Not what they should – an advisor gives options and is neither a commander nor a superior.

The second advisors’ meeting takes place in December, several weeks after the first. Advisors hand in their reflective diary and give a creative presentation of their advising experience. Their advisee writes a reflective diary as well, since reflection is regarded as an extremely useful instrument in promoting progress.

The course is an outstanding example of how students can cooperate with each other. It is a chance to make maximum use of your English and your qualities as a teacher, albeit this time as an advisor.

You can find Language Advising in the IS as AJB_JAPO. This course is worth threecredits.