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March & April 2020 Diary –

Time to sum up the last two months that I must say were filled with languages in a different way. As for everyone, the outbreak of Covid-19 followed by  the cancellation of public events which changed my schedule and plans completely. I’m fortunate to carry on teaching, adapting to online and on the positive side, actually having more time for my languages as a learner rather than a teacher. 

Chartered Institute of Linguists 2020 Conference

The last physical event I went to before the lockdown was Chartered Institute of Linguists 2020 conference. Organised in the splendid surroundings of the BMA House venue at the beginning of March. I spent two days at the conference, two days filled with a wide range of seminars, workshops and keynote speeches. And of course a great networking opportunity and meeting up with linguist friends. Although organised mainly with emphasis for translators and interpreters, I still benefited from the conference. It was interesting finding about challenges and opportunities for linguists nowadays, how to grow your language business, how to bring your language skills into your career or about the procurement of language services in the UK Police Forces.

Online Teaching

Coronavirus changed our world. It changed many aspects of our lives, definitely mine as a teacher. While before the virus outbreak online teaching accounted for only 30 percent of my teaching, I had to adapt to be fully present for my students online. My private 1-2-1 lessons as small groups moved easily to Skype and Zoom. Also the evening courses taught at the University of Chester continue online.  As much as I love online teaching which gives so many options in this digital era, I miss my classroom teaching. The biggest challenge is with spending the whole lesson in front of the computer, and in traditional settings, I am a very “mobile” teacher: always walking in the classroom, checking on my students, writing something on the whiteboard and standing most of the time. But I still enjoy my lessons, using various digital technologies which help me to replace traditional resources. 

German

    Since February I have dedicated  daily time to German. Sometimes it is just five minutes, on other days  more than an hour. The importance is to be consistent and do something everyday, even if it’s revising just one flashcard.  My main motivation was a trip planned to Germany this Summer, but in the current circumstances everything is on hold. Not my Deutsch though! I keep learning on my own and once a week I meet with a German tutor on Skype to practise conversation. I suffer and sweat putting sentences together making sure I keep German word order, but I am resolved to do it! I will tell you more about my learning in a separate post.

Practising Comprehension Skills

For years, the last two months are of the high activity  of watching foreign movies. Staying at home means more time for activities that I found difficult when having a hectic schedule.  At the beginning of March Chester International Film Festival  presented by Chester Film Society was hosted by Storyhouse. Among an interesting selection of movies I went to see Balloon, a German movie telling the  story of two families in East Germany, who put together a crazy plan to flee the DDR for the “West”.  I couldn’t miss another opportunity presented by Storyhouse, this time to enjoy Italian, La Dolce Vita by Fellini. Never seen it on a big screen, so decided to experience it in a cinema setting. In my “getting friendly again with German” plan, I also decided to do some passive learning by watching more movies at home . At my level, I need English subtitles to follow the story , but listening to the language and its sounds is very important in the learning process. One of the movies, also from the DDR era, was The Life of Others, presenting a gripping story about monitoring East Berlin residents by Stasi secret police.  And I’m really thankful for Deutsche Welle and its resources for learners. I love the series for learners, with exercises, grammar and vocab for each short episode.  Currently I’m watching Nicos Weg.  Regarding maintenance of my French and Spanish, I resolved to watch one French movie a week and the whole series of El Ministerio del Tiempo. Back in 2015 when I was preparing my Spanish DELE  I simply devoured the first two seasons, and I was highly disappointed when the third one wasn’t accessible for people outside Spain. Now rtve.es made it accessible  for everyone, so I just enjoy it,  not only for practising the language but also for learning about Spanish history. 

Reading Catch-Up

Another positive side of lockdown at home is more time for reading. Apart from catching up on various magazines, I caught up on interesting articles from The Linguist.  I alternate my language reading between Polish and French at the moment. I looked at my bookshelves and found many books in Polish I always planned to read, but never got around to it. They are mainly from the self-development area. For French reading I’m reaching for French classics. Back in Poland in my education time, I studied French literature for my BA and decided that for my retirement years  I would  come back to all those French books I didn’t get a chance to read!  It looks like I have a chance to start my plan earlier! 

New Dumbells For a Language Enthusiast

Finally, I would have never thought that I would use my dictionaries for non-language related …… Exercise is a big part of my life and with gym closure,  I had to be creative about my workouts and use what I have at home. My big traditional paper dictionaries that used to sit on shelves as I mainly use online – dictionaries now serve me well as dumbells!

Although I meet most of my students and language friends online, I ‘m missing my face to face events…Polish Meetups, The Language Café gathering in Storyhouse and many more that I was supposed to participate in. The Polyglot gathering which was supposed to be held in Poland this year, has been postponed to next year. Fortunately, the online gathering will still happen this year! Looking forward to this one! 

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07/05/2020

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