Monthly Archives: May, 2014

Get out of town!

Prague is a seriously beautiful city.  And this is coming from a non-city person.

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But if you are going to live here it is worth spending some time out of the city.  Here are some places I can recommend from personal experience:

Karlštejn Castle

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Just a short 40 minute train ride southwest from Prague will bring you to this lovely village and castle.  The train ride itself is worth it as it runs along the Berounka river and through other small villages.  You can catch the train either from Prague Main Station (Hlavni Nadrazi) or from Smichovske Nadrazi in Prague 5.  The train runs about every 30 minutes but check schedules on Jizdnirady.cz.

Český ráj  (Bohemian Paradise)

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Another lovely area not far from Prague is Český ráj.  Easily reached in a couple of hours by train, start your hike in Malá Skála where you can also find some nice cafes and restaurants.  The hike through the cliffs, rocks and forests is lovely and you can happily spend the day there.

Průhonice

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Even closer to Prague, mere minutes from Opatov metro station, you will find the village of Průhonice and Průhonice Park.  If you are looking for a quick escape from the city this area will satisfy you.  The park is very green and has a diverse collection of flowers.  There is a very modest entry fee of 50Kc.

Getting out…..

If you aren’t sure where to go or how to get there, consider joining a group.  Meetup.com has many groups including Foreigners in Prague United who organize hiking trips in various beautiful places.  The group sizes are manageable and you will get to meet people from all over the world as well as some locals.

Have fun out there!

 

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Reflections on teaching, one year down the road.

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Whew!  It’s hard to be believe I’ve been here over a year already!  Time flies.

2014 has been challenging.  My accident in January kind of side-tracked me but I am back on track, more or less.  Over the last four days I had a chance to teach a high intensity English/presentation skills workshop and it was a chance to reflect on how far I’ve come since May of 2013.

The good stuff….

In the last year I have met fantastic students.  Some genuinely interesting and motivated people have sat across from me.

I’ve gotten to see inside many companies in Prague and see how they operate.  There are such a variety of places to teach and that part is never boring.

My skills have improved exponentially.  What would have terrified me a year ago is commonplace now, no stress at all!  It’s a nice feeling.

I’ve seen Prague through the seasons, cold and wet, hot and humid and everything in between.  We’ve had storms that sneak up in the middle of afternoon and dump centimetres of hail on my window ledge.

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What has changed dramatically from the start is my balance between private students and school students and I hope to continue to add more private students as time goes by.

And the challenges…

Cancellations are, in my opinion, the biggest challenge to face a teacher.  People get sick. People go on vacation.  People are busy.  There are weeks where it feels like you didn’t teach anyone at all.

Communication with schools is my second most challenging issue.  Often you will be contacted last minute to take a class and only after scrambling to try to accommodate will you find out that, in the end, it was cancelled.

Maybe the less obvious challenge is keeping things fresh.  I have conversation students that I’ve been teaching for a year – that is 50+ classes of conversation and it can take an effort to come up with new ideas.

Recommendations for new teachers?

Recycle.  Recycle.  Recycle.  Try to take classes of similar levels and goals so that you can use material many times, even if you have to adjust it slightly it saves time over creating new material.

Back to backs are your friend!  Push hard to find classes that fit together thus saving you transit time.  If you are about to accept a new class be sure to ask yourself what the opportunity cost is – what else could you fit in that time?

Relax.  Be yourself.  If you work for a school you will face observations, these are a good opportunity for feedback but be sure to separate technical feedback from stylistic feedback.  We are all individuals.

Have fun with it!